This guest post is by lone hitchhiker, Akilina Scovell, who like me, had a torrid time in Istanbul. Despite her experiences being far worse than mine, she managed to overcome them and rise up to have the experience of a lifetime which still continues today. She is a perfect example to anyone who is struggling to overcome difficulties by showing that anything is possible. I am grateful for her sharing her story and wish her the best of look with her future adventures.
Over to Akiliana…
I have had the “travel bug” all of my life, but it wasn’t until I was 23 that I really got the ride of my life! I poured my soul into leaving the States; I was determined to get out no matter what, for whatever reason, I do not know.
I was in situation after situation that left me broke and on the street. I knew that this would keep me from ever traveling; I would never have money put aside at this rate, so I decided to become an Au Pair in Istanbul, Turkey, a place I had wanted to go for the past ten years. I knew that becoming an Au Pair would be my only chance of going to see another culture, and before I knew it, I found a family who was willing to buy me my ticket to Istanbul.
It didn’t turn out as planned, but what happened in Istanbul has given me quite an adventure to tell! The family that had me flown to Istanbul ended up being a father who just needed a woman’s company, as a cover for helping his kids with English…kids that didn’t live with him, and only came over once the whole time I was there. I turned down his subtle advances and let it be known I was displeased with the situation. He then allowed me to find another family, only giving me seven days to find another place to go.
I found a family that seemed great, but still, I got a twitch that something wasn’t right, and I turned out to be correct. Next thing I knew, my passport was taken from me, there were cameras throughout the home, and I was being yelled at and degraded constantly, even slapped. I was not allowed to step foot out of the home, unless one of the parents were with me, and I wasn’t paid… I was no longer free.
I escaped one day and went to the Turkish police, after much convincing by a sweet Turkish University student whose father owned the restaurant I ran to. The police took me to the American consulate, where more interesting things occurred over the course of 12 hours. Before I knew it, I was on the streets in Istanbul, no passport, no Turkish language skills (I wasn’t allowed to learn any), no money, and no-where to go. This was the ultimate test!
I was taken in by a sweet Turkish couple who had amazing children. I was treated amazingly, but I knew I must find work as soon as possible; this was a family who could not afford another mouth to feed. I began my work search on CouchSurfing of all places. Soon, I had a job offer in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, my favourite part, working at a hostel. This was how I was introduced into hostel work, work that pushed me to travel anywhere I pleased, knowing there would always be another place to go.
After my Turkish visa expired, I spent a month in Bucharest, Romania at another hostel. By then, I had realised that train travel was sucking my money dry. I got the idea of hitchhiking, knowing the risks, but having no other choice.
I began my hitchhiking journey in Belgrade, Serbia. This was when I learned that although I had no money, I could still see Europe, and decided to take advantage of what adventure might lay ahead of me. I hitched all the way to Rome, Italy, up to Germany, and when I became tired, settled at a hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia for a six week reprieve, doing volunteer work.
As my Schengen visa draws to an end, I am heading out to hitch hike Western Europe on my way to the UK. Maybe there I may end up with a ticket back home to Alaska, who knows? But the great question is: Do I really want this adventure to end?
Akilina Scovell is a hitchhiker/hostel worker who braves the road alone. She is currently just beginning her travels, having only hitchhiked through 13 countries, although she plans to head out to several more in the future. Akilina is currently working on a project to inform the world of the kindness of strangers, rather than the dangers, and hopes to share her stories with all who will listen. Depending on complete strangers to get around Europe, with no money in her pockets, she is determined to one day return the favour to others whom she may come upon in the future who are in need. You can follow Akilina’s journeys by visiting www.akilinastravels.wordpress.com or www.akilinastravels.blogspot.com, or by following her on her FaceBook group, Akilina’s Travels.