Posts Tagged ‘Hitchhiking’

On a Dark, Desolate Road in Spain, This Happened to Me

January 21, 2019

The landscape looked like this, but the night sky was much darker.

After enjoying a month on the island of Ibiza in Spain, I traveled across the Mediterranean Sea to the eastern city of Valencia and then hitchhiked south along the coast to catch a boat and meet a friend in Tangiers. From there, we would travel across northern Morocco on his classic British Matchless motorcycle.

Hitchhiking in Europe was common when I was in my early twenties, and I met many people who graciously acted as if they were personal European hosts to foreigners.

Late afternoon, following a day of quick rides, a man treated me to my first experience of tapas, a Spanish appetizer, at a busy tapas bar.

After eating, I continued my journey as I put out my thumb for the next part of my journey, this time with a trucker.

Soon the sunny day turned to a gorgeous sunset, which turned to a dimly lit evening, and the vacation-spirited, coastal road turned inland. I missed the implications of that shift on the map.

During my 1 1/2 years in Europe and surrounding countries, I only ran into two potential problems while hitchhiking. The night after my transatlantic flight was the first potentially ugly episode. This was to become the second.

Although I couldn’t understand his Spanish while conversing, there was no problem in communication when he stopped at the side of the road.

I had a choice: sex or get out.

Of course, I got out. Then I saw where I was — desolate, surrounded by sand and what looked like a semi-arid desert with the outline of mountains in the distance, miles and miles away from anything or anybody.

I secretly opened my pocket knife, chipping off part of my tooth in the process.

Of course, I thought, he couldn’t possibly leave me here alone, so I went back into the truck’s cab.

Of course, he thought, this meant I agreed to have a romp with him.

Of course, I got out again. And he drove off and left me.

I was alone in the silent dark, in the middle of nothingness and nowhere, in the literal midst of no man’s land… and captivated by the still moment of exquisite Presence. Someone was watching out for me because I felt awe instead of fear.

Not too long after, I saw small lights undulating their way to me on the curvy road. In the several minutes that followed, I wondered how a speeding vehicle could see me in the dark and stop, and who was in the vehicle?

I decided to trust fate about the passengers — most people I met weren’t loonies like that trucker. Anyway, I didn’t have a lot of choices.

About how to highlight my physical existence, I remembered I had a matchbook with fewer than 20 matches in my backpack. As the lights drew closer, I lit one, single match, after another.

The driver stopped.

Much to my delight, the man spoke fluent English and was a perfect gentleman. He told me that all hotels in the port city would be booked by now. He dropped me off at a hotel in a nearby town where I could easily catch a ride the next morning in time for a boat.

Then he paid for my hotel room. No strings attached!

Actually, even though I never asked, countless people I met along the way gave me accommodations during my European trek. In addition to paying for several hotel rooms, twice I was given an apartment to myself for an entire month, once in Paris and another in Vienna, plus extended weeks at people’s homes. I believe they understood the travel adventure and wanted to help a young sojourner. All for free, asking nothing in return.

I can’t imagine how I would’ve spent the night in a port city with no vacancies and the endless time trying to figure out what to do if it weren’t for the incident with the trucker and the kind man who helped. Blessings are often in disguise.

I didn’t let fear persuade me to make a bad choice, and it worked out for the best.

Bullies, no matter what their position, don’t have to win unless we let them.


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King Jr.


Perhaps there’s a seemingly impossible situation where you feel stuck and don’t know what to do. Maybe it appears to be someone else’s fault.

Somehow you got yourself into it, and somehow you can get yourself out.

There’s always a way out. Trust yourself and listen to the voice within for guidance.

My mother frequently said, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

As you’re finding your way, look for the silver lining, too. It’s there. 

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