My wife and
After such an extended period of time so close together, we both agreed each deserved a couple of weeks on their own. I decided that hanging out with my friend Fuji at his annual
I’d joined him and his friends in Sweden both Summers before — the first time in 2016, after a 13km walk from the nearest train station, and the second time by bicycle, during my latest cycle tour last Summer.
What would be my dramatic arrival this time?
Circumstances favored hitchhiking — they decided to rent a cabin in Estonian countryside, some 1,300km away from my current abode in L’viv, Ukraine but not requiring any ferry crossings —
Still apprehensive about leaving
The prospect of leaving was no doubt exciting, as it is always the case — i was going to visit a friend i love spending time with, and somewhere i’d never been to before and had been curious about since putting it on my map a couple of years before. I would also be traveling solo for the first time in a while, calling all the shots, and having nobody else but the crazy people inside my head to argue with about my decisions!
On the other hand, those four months hitchhiking with my wife throughout Europe and Brazil left me feeling worn down by the process. I consider myself an introvert, and the amount of socializing hitchhiking demanded from me was something
I was also apprehensive about the unknown — i felt i could deal with it much better when i was cycle touring, which gives me a little more flexibility with regards to what and how much to carry, as well as where to go in order to address my problems along the way.
Despite having a place to stay in Estonia,
It might have been easy to find hosts along my way in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia through hospitality networks such as Couchsurfing or Trustroots. But having such a goal for the day was one of the greatest sources of social stress during my honeymoon with my wife — more often than not, that required us to hitchhike nonstop to a late arrival at our host’s, followed by an early departure next day in the morning, for yet another whole day hitchhiking, thus reiterating the vicious cycle.
I don’t wanna travel like that
No — if
With a little bit of creativity and not so many concessions at all,
I have so much confidence in this minimalistic setup that
Indeed, having a complete camping/cooking set, and not having a pre-determined goal for the day did make the process a lot easier to accept.
I didn’t linger, but nevertheless took my time eating my meals and snacking —
With some drivers, the language barrier didn’t allow for the conversation to go very deep, even though
One driver picked me up because his wife saw me when she drove by and called him on the phone, “your car is empty, take him.” Another guy gave me a ride because that’s what he always does, even if it’s for just another 10 Km.
Filip, who had already traveled and explored some of the World in other ways, had always wanted to hitchhike — he has now just returned from his first hitchhiking trip, with a friend from Athens, Greece back to their homes in Lublin, Poland. I was the first hitchhiker he ever picked up — to inspire and help someone to take their last step to do something they had already wanted to is the core of what i’m pursuing with Not Mad Yet!
Special thanks to Agnieszka, Andrzej, and Marcin, who turned back to pick me up!
These three jolly paramedics were returning, full of energy, from a course they were ministering at the border — they gave me not only a ride but also about a liter of beer, traditional Polish food, an emergency blanket, and a tube of fast carbs — the last two have become part of my hitchhiking kit.
My first creep!
Pro-tip: beware rides that feel too eagerly offered — especially when you’re tired!
I’ve taken more than 200 rides across over 17,000 Km in 17 countries in this life, and
After several hours trying to unsuccessfully hitchhike northward from Białystok, about 5 Km of walking, and climbing over a fence with my heavy backpack, i found myself very tired somewhere, where my prospects of finding a ride seemed no better. It was close to dawn, and i was debating whether i should simply call it a day and start looking for a place to get water and set camp, thus postponing the problem of finding a ride out of there to the day after, when a car pulled over on the opposite side of the road and asked me where i was going.
I said, “to Estonia.” The driver then told me he was going to Augustów, which was in my desired direction — although i thought that was a bit strange, i hopped in — maybe that was simply the first opportunity for him to take a u-turn? He did indeed turn back north towards Augustów — after swinging by a gas station to fill up his tank and buy a pack of condoms!
You must now be wondering how the hell i know he’d bought condoms — i first thought that bright purple box he took out of his pocket and placed on the dashboard, clearly wanting me to witness the event, was bubble gum — i was a tad sleepy and even considered asking him for some. He then started telling me about the prostitutes along the road, and asking me if i like sex — “excuse me?” — “sex” — “wait, what, why do you want to know!?” — “you don’t like sex?” His impertinence was accompanied by suggestive gestures, which at one point included picking up the box of condoms and shaking it at me — no need for bubble gum, i’m wide awake now!
The language barrier made it difficult to parse his exact intentions, but none of the possibilities in my model stood out as better than the others — how to deal with this?
I referred to the women hitchhiking solo
I eventually judged his advances as in fact far more naïve and socially inept than ill-intentioned. While my first few indirect dismissals in broken Ukrainian/Polish/Russian didn’t seem to have a lingering effect, he did stop after
Although he told me he lives in Augustów, which was another few kilometers further down the road, he pulled back towards where we’d come from — presumably looking for a prostitute to satisfy his needs, which he might be unable to negotiate otherwise?
Honestly, i feel a bit sorry for the guy.
Truck drivers are my favorite
People often ask me about them — in Brazil, we grow up exposed to a fair amount of prejudice towards truck drivers. I’d started shifting that perspective while cycle touring already, when
I’ve only had to find a place to set up my hammock in two of the four nights
Where else did i sleep?
The other two nights i slept on my hammock — once wild camping in Tallinn somewhere i learned next morning seems to be a place where drug addicts hang out, and the other time on the backyard of Grzegorz and his uncle, whose name i didn’t write and now escapes me:
In particular, i was positively surprised to find out that something
And how was Estonia?
Oh, yeah, right — that’s where i was going! I almost forgot :p
We probably hear as much about the Baltic states growing up in Brazil as people growing up in Europe hear about the Guianas. As far as Estonia itself goes,
Walking with my friend and his dog Zelda, i got to see a bit of the Estonian countryside, where there’s more intense and reckless traffic than
Other than that, playing it by ear was the way to go — drinking beer, cooking, watching the world cup, playing board games, sauna, sharing online videos from the quintessential to the awe-inspiring, climbing trees, busking, helping my friends with my driving skills, watching a rehearsal of my friend Fuji’s visual spa, attending a performance of Omeulmad 2 (in which his partner worked as a producer), riding a bicycle in Tallinn, hiding a geocache, taking photos, writing on my journal, recording 20+ minutes of video logs, picking up trash from my campsite in Tallinn — that was quite enough 🙂
With the exception of finishing reading a book, which took me an extra few days after coming back,
Everybody should know what they travel for — for someone who essentially lives on the road, traveling might as well mean having a place to relax in peace 🙂
After what could be construed as roughly two uninterrupted years on the road since
Three other articles of a more tutorial nature are also coming out as a result of those couple of weeks on the road to Estonia and back — one describing my minimalist hitchhiking (and tree-climbing) kit, another one sharing my approach to finding a ride, and a third one contrasting the process to cycle touring
There is also still a lot to be processed from my previous projects —
Vacation: hitchhiking, solo travel;
Eastern Europe, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine