March 6, 2022
By Marthe Baalbergen and Elisa Peset Martin
Feat. The brave Hitchhikers
Mid february some of our iti-members went on a hitchhike weekend to Luxembourg-City. On the way there, they stood on the side of the road with either their thumb in the air or with a piece of cardboard with a destination written on it. They were picked up by different people from different places, so we asked the pairs what their favorite ride was.
Unfortunately, the 18th, the day everyone hitchhiked to Luxemburg, was the day storm Eunice tormented The Netherlands. The hitchhikers had to stand in the wind and in the rain while waiting for their next ride. Luckily these bad conditions sometimes made drivers feel sorry for the hitchhikers and pick them up. This was the case for Anne and Joey.
‘My favorite ride was two girls and a guy that felt sorry for us and picked us from a gas station somewhere in the Netherlands.’
‘They discussed among themselves that even though it is still covid and they are already 3 people, they will still take us to Brussels with them. They introduced themselves and told us about their friendship. They also showed their interest in who we are. All the way we were joking about them killing us in different ways but we never felt unsafe in their presence because they radiated friendliness and kindness.’
‘We were "opgepropt" for two hours in the backseats of the car, just talking and listening to different kinds of music.’
Of course the storm also resulted in people not wanting to pick up the hitchhikers because they wanted to get home as quickly as possible which did not help some of the hitchhikers’ moods and motivations. Yet, just like they say love comes when you least expect it, a good ride also comes when you least expect it. This was the case for Jaap and Orestis who’s hope for a next ride was slowly decreasing while standing next to a deserted bridge close to the Belgian border at around 20:00. Luckily, they got picked up by woman who became their favorite ride.
‘[O]ur unexpected co-traveler pushed her car’s brakes abruptly in front of us. She removed her two children-backseats and made as much space as possible in her tiny-sized Peugeot.’
After having had to wait at a deserted bridge, the woman who picked them up left them at a much better place:
‘A couple of family calls later and after having crossed Liege we were left waiting at the most ideal pick-up destination between us and Luxembourg. She asked us regarding our weekend plans and when our turn came to return the question just before hopping off, she replied: “My husband went for skiing and left me back with my job and two children, I don’t have any nice weekend plans!” before disappearing as quickly as she had appeared.’
Ben and Bente got a lift from a Tunisian man that drove them for a very long distance while telling them interesting stories about his life:
‘He was so cool. He had traveled to tons of countries, spoke lots of languages. He traveled with his two kids to like 13 countries and also across the sahara.’
It is such a fun thing to get to know people from various places with various experiences and stories. But it can also be nice to find someone from your home country while being abroad. This was the case for Kim and Jennifer who found a Dutch car.
‘We saw a yellow license plate pull into the gas station, excited to finally be able to talk in a language we knew again, we went to ask them for a ride.’
It took some convincing for the drivers, but in the end it turned out to be a very fun ride:
‘They were a little hesitant, not because they did not want hitch-hikers, but because they were a little scared that the cars might fall apart. However, they were going to Luxembourg and we would love to have our last ride.
They explained that one of their cars did not have seatbelts (this was NOT illegal due to the fact that the car was build before seatbelts were mandatory) and the other was driving without suspension. But well, beggars cannot be choosers (that is not true you always have a choice), so we got in.
Did karaoke with Disney songs, cheered on the car called 'shitbox', raced the other cars up a hill (probably bad plan) and generally had just an amazing time.’
As I explained, when hitchhiking you meet various people, some might be very fun, others might give you a ride with an awkward silence. But overall, Pippilotta and Marieke’s driver might be the most interesting of all:
‘We got a ride from a lady who was very concerned with our well-being because we were ‘young girls who shouldn’t do something like this’ then she proceeded to tell us about her son who was in prison for kidnapping someone. However she didn’t believe it was really kidnapping because he only put them in his trunk and locked them in his basement for 2 days. Very fun ride overall, learned a lot.’
Luckily, Marieke and Pippilotta, as well as the other hitchhikers, got to the youth hostel save and sound! Kidnapper’s mom or not, all the drivers gave our hitchhikers interesting rides and great new memories.
The next day everybody had a free day to do whatever they wanted in Luxembourg-City. Some went to museums, others discovered the city and at night some went out. Traveling back to Leiden was done differently by everyone, some took a train but others decided they liked hitchhiking that much that they wanted to do it on their way back as well.
After all, it was a great weekend!
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