The First Police Car
Two policemen came out of the car. Although it was raining and cloudy, one of them was still in sunglasses. They looked sufficiently intimidating.
Police: What are you guys doing?
We: We are trying to hitchhike to Leiden.
Police: it’s dangerous here! Do you know? You could get hit!
We: We thought it was a good spot.
Police: It was! That’s why we changed things around here and now nobody stops here!
Police: Seriously, you could get yourself killed by the traffic.
Police: Come inside the car! We will drive you to the nearest gas station.
The perk of hitchhiking a police car was that …… They would check your ID!
They looked at our IDs.
Police: So you are from China and you from Bulgaria. That’s very far from each other.
I: But we both came to the Netherlands.
Police: Are you married?
I (to Vicky): Eh… are we?
Vicky: No. Actually it’s our first day traveling together.
The police laughed.
Soon we arrived at the gas station.
Police: OK, here you can at least get covered from the rain and it’s easier to hitchhike here as you can ask people.
We thanked them and got out of the car.
Police: Good luck guys! (to me) Take care of the lady!
Off they went.
There was one car in the gas station. We went to ask and he said ‘Sure! I don’t go all the way to Leiden but I can drop you at the next gas station.’
The journey finally started and once started, it went on like magic.
Vicky was a perfect hitchhiking partner, smart, modest and at the same time adventurous, a rare combination of qualities. If I changed my name to Pedia, our team could be called ‘Vickypedia’. Or I could change my name to ‘Hitch’, then the team would be called ‘Hitchvichy’. Both sounded pretty good.
When the driver dropped us at another gas station, the moment we stepped out of his vehicle and thanked him, we saw a red haired woman about 5 meters from us. We immediately went up and asked: ‘Could we……’
Before we could finish our sentence she said with a smile: ‘Yes!’ Then we all laughed.
It took us about 3 seconds to get this ride.
The logic behind this lightening speed was that she saw we got out of the car of another driver, who was obviously still alive, so we were not serial killers. 😀
She was a hairdresser. Now she was driving home from work. We had caught the right time, with many people going home from work.
When we were dropped in another gas station, after 5 seconds a young mother with a 4 weeks old baby took us. The baby did not cry when he saw me. I was impressed and believed that I did not look like a serial killer anymore. It was a relief. The mother was just visiting her parents, to show them her baby for the first time. Same as Vicky, she also studied in Maastricht University.
‘So…… people who studied in Maastricht University are all very nice.’ I concluded.
Yes, I was the king of cheesy comments… I knew it.
The Second Police Car
When she dropped us at another gas station, the rain was already in full swing. We waited for quite a while but could not find anybody going to Leiden.
So, for the first time on that day after starting the hitch, we finally got stuck. For 15 minutes, we asked every driver who stopped in the gas station. There was one grumpy middle-aged man who said he had to pick up a friend so he could not take us. He had such a tired and serious face.
However, minutes later, when he finished fuel charging, he waved to us: ‘Come on inside.’
We got into the car. That was how we met Alex, the police chief of one of the major cities of the Netherlands. Here I am using a fake name and I promised not to mention the name of the city where he was the police chief. He was on his way to an appointment with his girlfriend who lived in the Hague (Den Haag in Dutch). He did not want to take us in the first place because he was afraid to be late for the appointment.
From his stern face and his speed of doing things, I could really see that he was a police.
Alex: what you guys did is a good way to hitchhike, , asking around so people could have a first impression of you.
We: Yes! and we are sociable people so we get better chances when we talk with people. Have you hitchhiked yourself?
Alex: Yes, a lot. I hitchhiked in New Zealand, in the States and in many other countries.
We: WOWO! How come you do not have a Dutch accent?
Alex: I worked in many different countries before becoming the chief of police in my city. I worked in the States, in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. When I was in New Zealand, I hitchhiked with my girlfriend. It was so cool.
We: Totally agree! New Zealand might be the most popular country for hitchhiking and it’s so safe there.
Alex: Safe? It’s surely much safer than most other countries. As a police, I know clearly that they also have their problems.
Within a few minutes I could already discern that he was an intelligent and decisive person, well traveled and well versed about world geography. Although already in his 40’s, he was still full of energy.
Alex: I agree with what you said, hitchhiking is a great way of meeting people. If you take the train from Maastricht to Leiden, you probably will not meet anybody. You will just stay with yourself the whole trip. If you hitchhike, you meet interesting people. I pick up hitchhikers all the time. Sometimes I feel talkative but sometimes not. Either way I always meet great people. Just days ago, I picked up these two guys in France and drove them all the way from France to the Netherlands. Sometimes after work, I would drive my car with my police uniform to bus stops and tell people there: ‘Hi, are you waiting for the bus? If you want, I can take you to where you want to go.’ It sounds a bit weird, but as I have my police uniform, they would trust me. I do it especially when it’s raining.
I changed my judgement. This was not just a cool driver but an EXTRA cool police chief. I would never imagine something like that happening in the States or any other country. Don’t you just LOVE the NETHERLANDS?
We: Do you still travel nowadays?
Alex: Yes, I ride motorcycles these days. Last time I rode my motorcycle all the way to Kazakhstan. I am thinking about riding all the way to China. You have any tips?
I: Yes! Make sure you go to Iran. It is the pearl of the whole Eurasian route. I hitchhiked from the Netherlands to China. The country which impressed me the most was IRAN.
Alex: I thought about it also. Heard many good stories about Iran from hitchhikers. However, it would be difficult to take my own motorcycle there.
I: En…… In that case, you can put your motorcycle somewhere in Turkey. Since you are a police chief, I am sure you can find some connections there. Then from Turkey you can go there with a motorcycle of Turkish license board.
Alex: Sounds like a good idea.
I: Also, if you want to enter China, make sure you do it from the Uygur province. it’s not possible to enter China via the Tibetan province without a tour guide.
All this time, he was cool and calm. The rain gradually stopped and we approached Leiden. I told him that he could drop us somewhere near Leiden so he did not need to get into the city as he was almost late for the appointment. However, he said he knew what he was doing and drove us into the city, directly in front of the door of where my friends Erik and Cesar lived.
Returning to the Netherlands after traveling around the world, I finally started appreciating how open-minded and cool the Dutch people were.
So……. how to hitchhike 3 police cars in one day and get a ride within 3 seconds? Eh…… the number one thing you can do is to get a cute female hitchhiking partner. 😀
To be continued