Friendhopping – Part I : Eastwards

The holidays are nearing and it seems that there is some hitchhiking in store for me. In memory of my past trips, I decided to work through my old travellers’ blogs, take the mistakes out, change the names where necessary and post them here piece by piece, on Wednesdays. I’m starting with the final trip I took so far, written just after I finished my studies. The series contains a storyline about love and friendship. It has six parts. This is part one.

July 18th 2011
They say that it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. But they’re wrong. Love is not lost. It changes shape. I’m writing this in the first train I took during this trip. Coming from a welcoming house, headed to a nice festival where I’ll meet my girlfriend today. I am in motion, liberated from my responsibilities. Except for one. Making up my mind.

It is not even two days ago that I left home with pain in my heart, accompanied till the bus stop by A., who I waved goodbye before I walked towards the highway. Drumstick gone. Forgot it at home? No, it’s lying on the road, a short way back. Start again. My second, long-awaited hitch hike took me north instead of east. A road trip with a Czech man brought me to Hamburg. The U-bahn gave me an escape from the crowded city. Ausmuhle. On to the first place to sleep.

But lying alone in a tent on a place you don’t know is not easy. I had forgotten how every little sound can pulse a shot of suspicious adrenaline through my veins, pushing me back up to a higher level of being awake. The only way to check the area is by leaving the tent. I’m not going to do that… Even though I know that there is no event thinkable worth to be afraid for, I have to sleeplessly admit to myself that I am not used to this lifestyle anymore. But with the deepening of the night sounds fade and al that stands between me and sleep is the cold, steadily creeping into my bones.

I leave early. The highway is close and I reach Berlin before noon. It takes a bit more time to get to the highway to Dresden. But I do. The sun is hot, so I sit down in the shade to take out my map. A blond, small but strongly built guy leaves the shop. Sunglasses and a goatee, a red t-shirt and short pants with gym shoes. I show him the CZ sign.
“Ceska Lipa.”
I have no clue what he said, so I give him the map. He points at a spot in the north-west of Czech Republic.
“Gut” I say, and I point to myself and to him trying to facially express a question mark.
Chill, he’ll take me. He seems to think I am funny.
He takes of his shoes and puts them at the side of the door to my seat, then points at my shoes, then at the same spot where he just put his. Okay, he wants me to take off my shoes in the truck. I take off my shoes and put them there. Then I walk away, because he leaves in twenty minutes. He tries to let me know that I can put my shoes back on outside if I want to. A pleasant laughter follows when I don’t.

The truck is big and white. It says magic above the window on the front.
“Magic” I say
“Magic, ja”.
The inner compartment is black. There is a not entirely burnt incense on the desk in front of me. In front of him a picture of the Joker by Heath Ledger. It reminds me of a playing card I once found in the desert in Peru.

Zirzy speaks a few words of German and he has a Czech-German dictionary in the truck. It helps on some occasions. A wave of the hand in the air to express an “oh what the hell…?” also does the trick. I find that the hardest thing to express without words is: “ I understand what you mean” . But then again, what the hell?
Zirzies truck is provided with food and beer. He can not drink, but I can, so he gives me the first Czech beers of my trip. He notices I am tired, so he tells me to sleep. I do. The road takes us from the highway into the forests of his homeland. Incredible seas of pine colour well with the clear blue sky.
“Mutter?” I ask.
He turns his head away and looks at me with a light out of the corner of his eye.
“Ja, mutter.” A smile with his answer.

Leaving Zirzies truck is just like when we met. We don’t understand what the other is saying, but there is a strangely familiar feeling that it is good this way. Yet the joy of meeting makes place for a sadness of departure. He was cool. But well. The journey goes on.

Half of the beer he gave me for the road spreads over the street. For a moment I feel ungrateful. But I hope the earth likes it in my place. I tell her “Hi” from Zirzy.
Packed, I walk to the other side of the village in about half an hour. I look at the sun and see that instead of six on Zirzies clock, it should be nine by now. Damn. Okay, well, I’ll never reach Brno tonight. Let’s just try to get a bit further and set camp. It’s a nice place here anyway. While I just stand there, holding up my Praha/Brno sign, I think about the laws of hitchhiking. A car stops faster than I’d hoped.
“Dobre vecer”
The driver starts talking to me in Czech. He seems energized, because he doesn’t stop. I have no clue what he’s saying. I try to tell him in Czech that I don’t speak Czech, but I don’t speak Czech, so I fail. I try it in English. Works better than I’d hoped.
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise that you don’t speak Czech.”
I get in the car.
“You’re fucking lucky, we’re going to Brno”
Our three-hour trip is filled with conversation. I will enjoy the warm safety of a very friendly hearted and beautiful couple tonight.


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