It was supposed to be still winter and it was, at least in the morning.
I was standing on the roadside, with the flow of cars beside me like a furious river. “One, I need only ONE car to get out of Istanbul and head north.”
I had a sign with me, with “Edirne” written on it and I had been becoming more and more impatient. I started cursing and F words to whatever was responsible for this bad luck.
Now looking back, I find that we hitchhikers are a species that get so easily spoiled. After having enjoyed smooth hitchhiking for one week in the Asian part of Turkey I got so used to “cars stopped in 10 minutes” situations. At that moment, after holding my signs in vain for 20 minutes I started first to fidget, second to doubt if anything went wrong, either my hairstyle or my sense of direction and eventually to question the very existence of the road itself.
“I did hitchhike with a lady from Los Angeles for one week through Turkey and it went on really well, didn’t I?” I asked myself.
The cars were still flowing like Tigris river, with me standing by it like non-existent.
“And yesterday I stayed in a Chechen-Turkish friend’s place in Istanbul, didn’t I?” I questioned myself again.
I walked on and on until I reached a fork on the road, where I was sure all those cars in front of me were heading north.
I tried with the sign, without the sign, with smile and without smile, but none worked.
It was soon not morning anymore and I had to take off my coat because of the annoying sunshine. I doubted even whether it was really winter right then.
Suddenly a car stopped in front of me, but about 50 meters away. I threw all my doubts and curses away and ran to it, only to find the driver in this little pickup truck busy talking on the phone, with the passenger seat occupied by some boxes and bottles. He obviously did not stop for me. However, I waited until his hot talk was finished and I signed to him if he could carry me further. He said something with a serious face and shrugged but in the end he opened the door and let me in. Yes, now the boxes and bottles were on my laps. The pickup truck stopped after about 2km and only then did I realize what the driver was saying with his shrug — “but I am not going far, only a couple kilometers.”
Back on the roadside again was I. Believe it or not, if you hitchhike a lot, you will soon find that there are many ways to change your luck in a subtle and scientifically inexplicable way. I believed that although the first ride was just 2km, it had “opened the day” and soon better luck would ensue. Imagine in a bar, you had a bottle of beer with you, although you were not in the mood of drinking, once you opened the cap and sipped even just a few drops, your thirst would soon come.
Soon I saw an old black car moving very slowly along the road. Two possibilities, either the driver was drunk or the car was too shabby. It moved so slowly that I could run up to it with my big backpack and knock on the window while the car was “running”.
At the driver’s seat was a face perhaps as old, if not older than the car itself. This old Turkish man looked at me with all the due surprises, curiosity and confusion until he saw my sign of “Edirne”. Then he opened the door with a smile. Then the car started to roar at an amazing speed of about 30 km/h. WOWO! Amazing! 😛 😀
— So, he was going to Edirne?!
— I thought so!
……until after about half an hour the engine, which sounded as ancient as the Ottoman Empire came to a stop. Right, he arrived! He smiled to me and started to call his children and wife who were in the house just beside the road. I realized that I still had a long way to go and politely refused his invitation.
While waiting (again), I calmed down and started to pray to the God of Traveling and the Goddess of Hitchhiking.
The charm of hitchhiking lies in the fact that it was unpredictable. For trains or buses have schedules, with time approaching you know that your transport is getting gradually nearer, but with hitchhiking, you never know when the right vehicle will come. This second there is nothing but perhaps the next second a lovely truck will suddenly stop for you. You will be constantly suspended, constantly expecting and then constantly disappointed, until when you have learned to let go and give the control to the ROAD. Then you shall be able to enjoy every minute of it, enjoy (instead of suffer from) the suspense and relish life as it is.
There are three types of people who would pick up hitchhikers, the kind ones, the cool ones and the evil ones. I had met many of the first two types but never any of the third yet……
Suddenly another old black car stopped and I went up, hearing the resounding hippop from the front. Before I said anything, a Turkish guy with short beard and a pair of cool sunglasses opened the backdoor and laughed:”Hi my friend, get in!”
Right! These 3 young Turkish guys were of the second type. There was a party going on inside the car and I happened to be crushing it.
Off the car roared and we started all the jumping, shouting, screaming and filming. At a certain point one of the guys started to teach me some Turkish words and then called his friend and let me speak to this confused friend on the phone with these words. I have forgotten what exactly these words meant but I do remember the expressions on the faces of these three guys, priceless. We laughed like there would be no end of this journey and this party.
When the end actually came and the sun had reached its top, I was somewhere near Edirne.