Published: December 5th 2005December 5th 2005
OK, well, it's official. I am a bit crazy. I have a bit of a screw loose. There is something different about my brain that makes me do strange things occasionally. Strange things like HITCHHIKING 1000 ks from BARCELONA TO GRANADA!! :S
I know I mentioned it previously, but at the time I thought that, yeah, yeah this was just another one of Charlie's hair-brained ideas that will never come to fruition- but no, on Saturday morning I found myself leaving the hostel in Barcelona and jumping on a random south-bound train to the outskirts of Barcelona where I then asked a perplexed looking local the direction south and began to walk... and walk... and walk...
In the insufficient amount of research I did, I found many articles written by experienced travellers telling of how impossible it is to hitchhike in Spain and many locals telling me I was 'loco!'- but for some reason I knew better than all of them! I've hitchhiked before! It's easy! ...in SPAIN! ...on the WEEKEND!!... in WINTER!!!
Spanish people don´t give lifts. Only eccentric old Swiss grey nomads and crazy German pornstars give lifts.
I walked 30k's from the edge of Barcelona- more than halfway to Tarragona- before two Columbianos stopped to pick me up. Butchering the little Español I know I managed to ask them how far they were going and deduced that they were only going as far as Tarragona... Bummer.
They did, however drop me at a much better hitching spot where I sat with my cardboard sign marked 'GRANADA o VALENCIA por favor!' for only about 15 minutes before Haldemann, the 63 year old Swiss nomad picked me up.
He didn't speak much English, so using bits of German, Español and English I found out that he was headed to Morocco! He said (i think) that he could take me 'quite far'... or something (he also said 'Ya Ya! Das is gut!' and 'Scheisse!' quite a bit- he taught me the German word for 'arsehole', but I've forgotten it... ;)
We had stilted conversation for most of the afternoon and it turned out that he helps random strangers quite a bit- but only for a cup of coffee! We then stopped at a cruddy little (big) tourist destination called Calpé for the night where he cooked me dinner of 'weisswurst mit nüdel und kartoffelsalat', shouted me a beer at a local beachside bar and told me I could sleep on the floor of his caravan! I felt like I was in some bizarre scene from "About Schmidt"! Bless him!* (*I'm not religeous, but this is actually the only term I can think of for a situation like this! :)
In the morning I bought him his coffee and he took me another few hundred k's down the track before stopping for a siesta and suggesting that I look for another lift if I want to get there quicker. So I thanked him profusely for all of his help, wandered over to the service station to change my cardboard sign and then, (as I do) slashed a great big hole in myself!
OK, if there is one lesson I hope I've learned from this, it's to CHILL THE *puta madre* OUT! (and yeah, I can just about feel the breeze from the shaking of Ash and Alaya's and everybody else's heads! :P) In the vein of figs, fences and breaking my wrist, this was an accident of purely preventable stupidity. I'd started to chop my sign in half, because I no longer needed the bit that said "Valencia" but instead of cutting it carefully, I hacked away at it like a maniac until I found that my (very good! ...and very sharp!) pocket knife had somehow embedded itself comfortably within my leg!
Bleeding everwhere, I piled myself into the servo and, soiling their nice floor, used a combination of Spanish curses and nonsense from Alaya's phrase book to enquire if they had any medical gear. The guy answered me in English (:P) and ran off to get me a bandage and some antiseptic. After doing a McGyver-style first-aid job on myself, I hopped back over to Haldemann and enquired as to whether he would mind becoming an ambulance service. Shaking his head and smiling and telling me in German how much of an idiot I am, he let me hop in and took me 11k's down to track to the hospital in some obscure and unsung hamlet where he left me (probably thankfully!) to fend for myself.
Nobody at the hospital spoke English, however they seemed to speak the language of blood and gore, because on seeing my wound they chucked me straight onto a guerny and whacked three stitches in me! WITHOUT ANAESTHETIC!! OW! (Thankfully though, they didn't charge me anything, and didn't even want to get my insurance details!)
After that I hobbled the 8 or 9ks to the motorway and, feeling utterly alone in the Sierra Nevada sunset, considered the possibility of sleeping in an abandoned shed, or abandoned culvert...
That's when Sven, the crazy German came in. I found a P stop and saw this rock-star looking dude with a black caravan, so using my Pigeon Español again I asked him if he was headed for Granada. He said 'si!' and promptly gave me a lift. He seemed like a friendly guy (although he spoke even less English than the last guy- and not very good Spanish either) but after about an hour, he said that he was going to crash for the night and continue in the morning, so we stopped at another P stop and piled out the back to his caravan... which was covered wall-to-wall in porn! Not feeling entirely comfortable with staying in his caravan full of porn, I gestured to him that it was still early and that I would continue hitchhiking to Granada. Seeminly oblivious to my discomfort, he conveyed that it was freezing outside (which it was) and that I probably wouldn't get another lift tonight- so he offered to drive me the rest of the way.
It was a moment of pure now, as I figured that if I did try to get to Granada I'd probably freeze and my leg would fall off, so I just hopped back in his ute and played my ukulele hoping that he wasn't a psycho rapist or something. Eventually we arrived in Granada, and he dropped me at the Bus Station- innocence intact! :)
After taking a bus into town and enquiring where the Oasis Hostel was, I eventually crashed through the front door here and wheezed a sigh of relief!
My hair-brained mission was complete!
Now, I think I will stay here a week or so and then take the bus back to Barcelona! :P I'm going to the hospital today (as instructed... I think) to get my dressing changed and checked out, and I'll be hobbling around for a few days yet. I get the stitches out in 10 days- just before I leave, so when I get back to Scotland I should be fine...( providing I don't do something even more stupid)
So there ya go, faithful reader! Possibly the craziest thing I've ever done, and I'm still alive! Woohoo!
Now to check out Granada...