Quite often people ask me a candid question: “Why won’t you take a train/bus/plane to get to your destination? Or arrange a trip somehow beforehand?”
Usually the 100% true answer is that I do not have money for the ticket, plus I really hate the humiliating security practices introduced in the civil aviation. But even if it’s not the case, there is one fundamental reason.
Hitch-hiking is about people and their stories, not kilometres.
No other way of travelling can arrange as magical relationships as the hitch-hiking does. The butterfly effect – you being on this very spot of the road at this very time; and the other person, who just happened to leave later than usual – and WHAM! The 2-hours-long friendship occurs. And sometimes lasts…
After waking up at 4:30, I have packed my camp, filled two enormous watertight bags with all gear I could not dispose otherwise and carried it 500 m to the nearest road. My sailing friend arrived in his combi wagon at 6:00 sharp and, with dizzying speed, brought me to the rest place at the national E39 road. Then I waited. Long time. And had my breakfast (salmon, mozzarella and orange juice – all of the finest quality, and freegan). And then waited a bit more.
The Per appeared, in his T4. Calmly (this is what I like in Norway) he repacked his personal effects from the front seat and invited me inside.
Per, Mette and the old family estate.
Nice, possibly a bit older than I, very stable, non-nonsense man. With the speed limits in Norway, we had a lot of time to cover all possible issues, including the fact that his family – since 16th century, I guess, was settled in Southern Norway. And, as we happened to pass nearby the place his family used to live, he invited me to pay a visit to his cousin. Very nice lady, in her ’70, appeared to be very straightforward and friendly. Not only she has good experience with Poles, who frequent the area she lives in, but we also discovered, that our ways of thinking seem to be really similar. We shall see each other again, for sure. And meanwhile, a fascinating correspondence develops.
Eric, and the island community
“My wife called me once,” said Eric, when we left the fuel station in his big pick-up Mitsubishi, “and told me to come, as she had found us a new home.”
It seemed like a start of another impulse shopping story. But what else can you do, hitch-hiking, than to exchange stories? Besides, I was freezing to death (A/C going full speed ahead) and my brain went a bit numb. But not for long.
Apparently, Eric’s wife happened to find a real treasure. Not only a nice, traditional Norwegian home, just a frog’s leap from the seashore. But also the location (location, location,) on an island, featuring really fine community. The island of S., inhabited by no more than 350 people, connected with the mainland just by ferry. Impressive enough to convince Eric to sell his property near Oslo and move there? No. The decision factor was the community there.
The whole community acts like a one cooperative, exchanging favours and helping each other. They keep certain rules, making life there calm, stress-free and sane. The most impressive thing on S. is the local pub. Five islanders pooled their money to buy an old boat. Anchored firmly, it serves as a local waterhole, selling drinks and food at cost needed to keep the show running. There are also musical events there, that developed certain reputation among musicians.
I could not learn more about the island, as our travel ended too early. But I am sure I will visit the place one day and bring you more stories from there.
Nina and the Green Revolution of Norway
Three hours passed, and my only advance was by foot. Carrying almost 50 kilograms of equipment and supplies, I was walking in stages along the Road 4 in the middle of Oslo. With the night coming fast, the situation looked hopeless.
The battered 4×4 Toyota stopped by me quite suddenly. A tiny lady, in a hat bigger than mine, said “I do not go the whole way to G., but I will take you out from Oslo. Here they do not like people sleeping outdoor.”
After usual introductions, we realised that we are really kindred spirits. For almost 40 years, Nina is deeply involved in alternative gardening, permaculture and education. She runs several projects in Oslo. In many other areas, our experiences were similar. As a seasoned hitch-hiker, she not only treated me with a diner, and show the public area I could stay overnight, but also invited me for the breakfast and shower in the morning.
Something tells me, that we shall be seeing each other rather sooner, than later. 🙂
It was just a few among people I met during last trip. Perhaps I will tell you about the rest – another day.
For now, hitch-hike if you can. But avoid Oslo. 😉