Back in July, I received an email that begun, “I was working from 9-5 a job I didn’t like that much but was comfortable enough I didn’t want to quit.” It was from a Romanian guy named Laurentiu who, like me, had been inspired by stories he has read on the internet. Throwing all caution to the wind and searching for adventure, he then announced that, “The big travel plan is [hitchhiking] around Europe in a 10.000 Km trip with a departure date but no return date in mind.” I love receiving these messages, I love hearing other people’s stories: it is what makes me want to do things myself.
In passing, I mentioned Hitch Gathering, a festival for hitchhikers that I had chanced upon the year before. As luck would have it, we made common friends through the crazy hitchhiking world and on the last day of September, he sent me this picture.
If you read about my cycle from the UK to Slovakia (or watched the video), you will realise that the bicycle in this picture, is my bicycle. It is the £30 bike I bought and cycled a thousand miles, the bike that I loved because it got me there, the bicycle that I got arrested on, the bicycle that I cycled bare foot because I broke my toe, the bicycle that I hated because it fell apart. It is the same bicycle that I put on my raft as I rafted the Danube. After getting arrested for the second time, I had left the bike at a friend’s house in Budapest and Laurentiu happened to have met the same friend. When he saw my bicycle, he recognised it.
As chance would have it, I was in Moldova when I got this email and we decided to meet up in Romania. I’m very glad that we did. I had a wonderful time being shown around Bucharest, exploring mountains, and staying in a small village.
After these great experiences, we then decided to hitchhike to a haunted forest and spend a few nights camping there.
Over Christmas, we just so happened to be in England at the same time, so we met up again there. By this time I had grown a horribly long beard which I have since shaved off.
The two of us flit about like untamed birds, never settling on anything. When will we meet again? I have no idea. As someone who moves about so much, I often do not see friends for months, normally years at a time. However, when I am lucky enough to be in the same place as a friend, it is always worth making the effort.
Sometimes, all it takes to stay in touch with someone (or to make a connection) is to take the minute or so required to send a message. Just a hello, where are you, how’s your pet rabbit. Even if that person doesn’t reply, I am very sure that they will be grateful. In a world where we can watch everybody’s lives through Facebook, wasting hours away, the comparative effort of contacting someone is miniscule. I hope you write and keep writing some more. Only then, can we [ you / they ] all meet again.