Having hitched thousands of kilometers up and down Europe back in the day through 20 countries, this lift was just an addition to the series…however, as many things in this country, it has proved to be a very ‘exotic’ experience.
For starters, never tell anyone in Canada you are planning to hitchhike; they are likely to buy you a bus ticket. Do not try to convince them that hitching is a joyful activity, as they will ask you: ‘and what do your parents think of it’? I didn’t even attempt to explain what my folks really think about anything, and following a few stories about killed and vanished hitchhikers I eventually gave up and agreed to get a ride with a truck of local company, heading down to Vancouver. I have realised why hitchers are becoming an endangered species. Lack of trust between people leads to both – hitchers being afraid to hitch and drivers beings afraid to offer a lift.
So, I faced the disappointment of getting downtown Vancouver in one go, without the adventure of standing in the freezing cold being splashed on by trucks. I missed the adrenaline associated with the uncertainty of when, with whom, and how you will arrive or not …and of course – the most interesting part about hitchhiking are the stories. Naturally, spending days on the road with strangers, sharing stories becomes almost a central part of any ride…something that offers almost an instant insight into the countries I have visited.
This ride in the goose truck, full of frozen chicken, was no different. Listening to Tina’s (the driver) stories, I have realised how unique this country is. There are stories about bears, salmon, coyotes and moose. There are stories about creeks, snow, ice fishing, waterfalls and avalanches. There is the story about the bear, whose den got flooded and is now wondering around villages waiting for spring to come. But there are also stories about ordinary Canadians, their habits, their children and the way they go about their daily lives. Stories about alcohol and drugs, high up in the mountains, stories about aboriginals, animals, work, music, culture, food and water. I have learned about the fear and joy of these people living up in the mountains …more than I possibly could from any other source. And I thought…if hitchhiking and ride sharing dies…these stories of the road and of people will die too…While waving goodbye to Tina I wished people were just a little less scared of each other.