Hi all. Here are what comes from the top of my head when I think about putting some stuff on my user page.
- Because it’s free! (both gratis and libre)
- Walking and cycling are okay, but when it comes to travelling long distance (read “longer than you can walk or cycle in a day”), hitching is the only serious method of transportation that results in (almost) no carbon emission, on part of the hitchhiker at least.
- People travelling on other means of transport generally only see the best-most beautiful-most central parts of the cities. Hitchhikers, on the other hand, experience both these and also the residential areas, outermost suburbs, and slums. While all locals the ‘others’ meet are usually limited to hotel or restaurant employees, hitchers also get more in touch with local culture and way of life. This is important at having a complete and real image of any given city/region –seeing the ‘big picture’.
- And because there is something mystical about hitching: You don’t know who will give you a lift and why s/he’s there at that moment: Fate? A web tightly weaved?
First hitchhiking trip
I have a hitching memory that I want to share with the Hitchwiki community. Although it wasn’t strictly the first –and last- time I hitched, all the former and later travels I did by thumbing were on a straight line, from, say, A to B, within the range of a couple hundred kilometres at most, and thus they cannot be considered trips really, but only as a means of transportartion.
On an early evening in April 2008, during my this first ‘real’ hitching trip, I was in Anamur, a town in the very south of Turkey, on the coast of Mediterranean Sea. It was about the midway of my entire trip. Wandering around to have a glance at this remote town -only accessible by the curviest roads I have ever seen from both sides and surrounded by mountains, mountains, and again mountains on three sides and the sea on the other-, and to have something cheap to eat, I came across a newspaper stand. Running a quick eye over the newspapers, a headline caught my attention: “Hitchhiker murdered”. Being literally penniless –I had only 1.25 YTL in my pocket, which at that time was roughly equal to € 0.70/US$ 1.00-, and totally relying on credit card for food, I just didn’t buy the paper –I didn’t really want to buy it anyway since it was destined to ‘transform’ into trash in a matter of minutes. My conscience just doesn’t let me to toss any piece of paper into a garbage can instead of a recycling bin, which are desperately rare –or totally absent- in small towns in Turkey. Anyway, since I wanted to keep moving towards west, and I didn’t want to thumb in pitch dark, I felt I had to be quick and didn’t read the article completely on the spot either. It was after returning home a few days later when I learned the total extent of the event. Although I had all those thousands of kilometres forth and back because of a humanitarian cause (to join in a demonstration held in another town in southern Turkey against forced sedentarization of a nomadic tribe inhabiting mountains and high meadows of the region), throughout my trip I had looked for something else to dedicate my trip – well, a little non-seriously (My inspiration to look for something to dedicate my trip was a guy whom I had recently read about. He had in late 90s rowed 1000+ miles from Istanbul to Dalyan in the southern Aegean coast of Turkey and dedicated his voyage to endangered Caretta caretta turtles) However, once at home, the moment I read about Pippa’s story, I –seriously this time - silently dedicated my trip to her goal - a dedication which now is public. Every time her photo comes to my mind, I dream of her as she’s watching over and protecting all the hitchhikers standing beside any road on the face of the planet. Hope that’s the case ;-)
And now the funny part: I was one day late for the demonstration I was after, although the magazine which reported the protest earlier in the month said I was there on the right day. But my heart was –and still is- with the Sarıkeçili anyway, the last ones to keep the tradition of thousands of years, and who, despite the hardships caused by the government, managed to carry out their spring and autumn migrations in 2008.
Thanks for reading till this point. Apologies if it has been pointlessly long.
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