“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles” – Tim Cahill To understand how travel means to touch lives, to travel with the purpose of meeting locals, read about an encounter Joao from Learn To Travel Team had when hitchhiking to the airport to start his journey to South America.
A start on the right foot – Journey to The Airport
We are a team of 12, and on this day we only had a ride for 8 to the airport. 4 of us decided to hitchhike. Our day started with some light rain, and we were left off at the Circle K in Lillehammer. After a cold, shy start we weren’t being fortunate. Most of the people who went to the airport had their cars full while others lived nearby. I was confident that people would avoid us, as we carried huge backpacks and insecure faces asking for a favour. The opposite happened: people were interested in helping and genuinely sad for not being able to give us a ride. some even went out of their way to get us a driver by asking in nearby shops. Even if no luck for a journey, this was a good chance to have conversations with these people and a lift of positive spirit.
Eventually, the first group of 2: Istvan and Krisztina got picked up, and me and Nora ran to the middle of the road to wave them goodbye. Surprisingly the car came back to the gas station and honked. “Get in! We can all go,” said István. This news was fantastic so we pushed our bags in the trunk; where a pair of skies was stretching from the back all the way to the front seat. The driver took a selfie with us, sent it to Lisa and off we went!
Our hitchhike to the airport
From strangers to acquaintances
Well, at that point we didn’t have the faintest idea of who Lisa was, but I soon came to find out. Our driver was in a desperate state of excitement, smiling, laughing and checking his phone often. After some chit-chat, the initial excitement calmed down. The people in the back started to chat in Hungarian, and I went into a more private conversation with the driver.
It didn’t take long to figure out that that restlessness he was feeling was a consequence of something: Our driver lived in Lillehammer and his girlfriend, Lisa, lived in Oslo. They had had a fight, and our driver was upset that Lisa just told him very solidly that something happened with her and another person. She didn’t care to explain, abruptly hanging up the call which is when he had decided to drive himself to Oslo in a desperate attempt to be able to reach her. “I need to get my other phone back.” was the excuse he was telling himself.
I felt very sympathetic. Situations like this where communication, the basis of any relationship, is cut down intentionally by a loved one can be very revolting. I felt his restlessness as if it was my own. Something in his story struck a nerve within me with its odd familiarity. I could read between the lines of his dialogue that he was angry. That conversation he planned on having with her was not going to have any positive outcome. I saw him as an honest man with honest feelings. Clearly, this woman was caring more for her personal interests above their relationship.
Asking the right questions – Travel means to touch lives
This conversation stretched for about two hours, as we were analysing, very rationally, what it all meant. I felt like I couldn’t help more since I didn’t know either of them, so I did my best to guide his thoughts and feelings to be organised and settled. After a profound observation of himself, he went quiet, and I respected his silence.
Almost in Oslo, he left the highway into Gardermoen airport’s direction. “I’m taking you there.” – He said. We, of course, said that he already had done enough for us, but he proceeded to explain. “I don’t need my phone. That’s just a bad excuse. I was going to Oslo to barge into her house and cause a fight that wouldn’t bring any of us any good. That would humiliate me as a man and deepen the feeling that I am worth nothing to her. I don’t want to be this person, i want to travel and look out for myself. I believe things happen for a reason. The reason I picked you up was so you would prevent me from doing something I would regret. I will take you to the airport and enjoy the rainy ride back to Lillehammer”.
I couldn’t leave him without a hug. A heartfelt embrace of two random strangers left me feeling like I was readier than ever, to go.
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