One of the basic forms of transportation when I was in Africa was hitchhiking. Cheap, relatively easy, and everybody did it - it wasn't just us young white foreigners doing it. It is the reality that we were more likely to get a ride than the local Africans, but really everyone did it relatively successfully. Most of the time it was free, but on one long ride we needed to pay some money.
I was thinking last night about several memorable hitchhiking experiences, and wanted to share a few. Two quickly turned to six or seven, so I'll need to spread this post over several days. I'll do the short stories first, since I'm doing this at work and really do have a quite a bit of work to do.
The first memorable experience was when my boyfriend, let's call him Pat, and I went away for the weekend to Great Zimbabwe. It was our first long trip on a weekend and we were a little nervous about timing, since we did have a teaching job to do during the week. We may have taken the bus down to be safe, but hitchhiked back. In any event, a flatbed truck picked us and other people up. I just remember the great feeling of speeding along the road in the open flatbed - a bit nervous about falling off, but mostly just really enjoying the experience. I did take a photo of Pat at one point and it really shows the exhilaration (or was it just the wind? :-) )
99.9 percent of the time I hitchhiked with Pat. One day however, I didn't. I had ridden my bicycle out to visit other volunteers at a nearby village - at least an hour bike ride. On the way back my tire started going flat and biking became harder and harder. So, I decided to try hitchhiking WITH my bike. Just for the hell of it. And someone picked me up! Amazing. And I didn't get raped. Double amazing. It was an incredibly stupid, daring thing to do, but I love the fact that I am able to say I hitchhiked with a bicycle.
The last short story comes at the end of a long trip through Zimbabwe and Botswana on one of our month long holidays. Pat and I were beat, and really so looking forward to getting back 'home' to Zimbabwe, because it was a lovely place at the time with wonderful people. We had camped at a campground and I had had a migrane, so again, we were just wiped. We stood on the side of the road for a while and noone stopped. We were kind of despairing when a Mercedes pulled up driven by a white guy, boom boom from music coming through the windows and he offered us a ride through the rest of Botswana into mid Zimbabwe. He was like an angel from heaven. It's also memorable because I was a little nervous getting into the car since the song that was playing was some Fleetwood Mac song that just had a really sexy beat - dont' know which song - and I was to sit on the front seat with the guy. But everything turned out ok, and again, we sat in luxury most of the way home.
I must say I really like hitchhiking.