Finally we are putting fingers to keys to write this very important post. Our year of drifting presented us with daily opportunities to encounter folk from all walks of life, whose kindness restored our faith in humanity. We can be led to believe it is a dangerous, scary world out there but our experience begs to differ. A little trust and openness with a smidgen of caution can reveal an eye-opening wonder – there’s a lot of goodness out there, and there are plenty of people practicing it. This is our humble “Thank You” to everyone, everywhere on our travels who helped us in any and every way.
Our first shout-out goes to our wonderful hitchhelpers, those folk who sized us up in a split second as they were driving by and stopped to share their vehicle with us. As I have stated in my hitchhiking post, where would we be without them? Well, not very far really! We were lucky enough to be picked up by a wide array of hitchhelpers – truck-drivers, families, women alone, men alone, the police (in El Salvador), surfer dudes and some pups along for the ride with their people. We have graciously been given permission by many of these kind folk to include their photos and names in this tribute post.
To all you truck-drivers who helped us put some miles behind us, obviously we will not be jeopardising your jobs by posting any photos of any of you. If you ever come across our wee blog, please know how grateful we are to all of you for sharing your rig/cab with us. Thank you also for being o.k. with us (typically Jerry) falling asleep on your beds.
The Anniversary Crashers – Us!
After spending a relaxing week with Jerry’s family in Pennsylvania, it was time for us to hit the road again. As we hitchhiked from Hubbard, OH we were promptly picked up by Jeff and Ronda who drove us 473 miles to Champaign, IL. Not only did we chat all the way like old friends, they also let us crash their anniversary dinner! Yes, these extremely kind folk took us out to dinner to celebrate their anniversary. We are still in contact with Jeff and Ronda. We also want to say a massive “Thank You” to Ronda for being our very first follower on our wee blog here, we are honoured.
The Who’s Who Gallery
Simmons picked us up in Weatherford, Texas and took us to Midland/Odessa, Texas. He kindly bought us drinks and snacks when we stopped for petrol. He was a geo-analyst, taking rock samples for oil exploration (it is Texas) on his way to a job with a long, lonely drive ahead of him until we showed up and chatted his ear off. To this day we still need to try “Wolf Brand Chili” (his favourite)!
Darrell rescued us from dangerously blistering temperatures in Eloy, Arizona and drove us 400 miles to El Cahon, San Diego. This was to be our final hitched lift South before we crossed the border into Mexico and we couldn’t have hoped for a better grand finale! This was like a lift with an old friend that we hadn’t seen in years, as we gabbed for over 400 miles. Last we heard from Darrell he still had our “San Diego” sign hanging in his house that we were holding up as we hitched, and left in his car after we said our good-byes. Thanks Darrell!
Beth & Adam
We’ve known Beth and Adam (and Pico) for many a year. We had no idea we would end up in San Diego (the unfolding mystery of hitchhiking), hence Beth and Adam got the surprise phone call announcing our imminent arrival in town! They very kindly put us up for the night in their lovely apartment, took us out to dinner, let us do laundry and took us to the trolley for the border the following morning. Thank you for being such good, sweet friends. We’re about to hit the road again here soon; you might want to start screening your calls!!!!!!!
Wendy, Spencer, Lee & Bolt
Even though Jerry had vowed not to hitchhike in Mexico, it didn’t take long to twist his rubber arm. Wendy, Spencer, Lee and Bolt came to our aid in Santo Tomás, Baja California Norte, Mexico. We piled into their truck and ended up staying in their beach hut in Colonet. We cooked dinner together, played “Cranium” and listened to the band “Explosions in the Sky”. Next morning Lee made us breakfast and took us off-roading to “Cuatros Casas” as they scoped out potential surfing spots. These are the serendipitous moments and opportunities you cannot plan when you travel. We are so lucky and grateful to have crossed paths with these guys. Hopefully we will be seeing them again soon.
Carlos, we do not have a picture of you, but it just wouldn’t be right to leave you out of this important post. Unfortunately your car mirror is going to have to suffice as a gravatar for you. You were a wonderful hitchhiker host, we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our long day of travel with you. You took us from San Quintín to Mulegé, through the arid stretches of the Baja Peninsula. A night of beers, tacos and karaoke with you was just one more reason for us to realise travel is a many splendid thing. We will see you again in Mérida some day, our friend!
Lydia was our lift from Mulegé to Playa Santispac Baja California Sur; she also happens to be the care-taker of the beach – Playa Santispac, where we camped for a few days. It was also here that we met John, an expat from the States who now lives in this little slice of paradise. John was kind enough to let us borrow a tandem kayak so we could enjoy the crystal clear waters of Bahía Concepción.
We had the pleasure of meeting Enrique on the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlán. Enrique is Mexico’s self professed biggest “Air Supply” fan. He was on his way to one of their concerts in Mazatlán. We hung out with him on the crossing and really enjoyed his company. Now, whenever we hear an “Air Supply” song, we are immediately reminded of him, leaving us to look at each other and smile and say “Enrique”!
Alex (Senior) & Alex (Junior)
From Tepic we decided to take a day trip to Laguna Santa Maria del Oro. Again we found ourselves hitching and again we were picked up by a lovely family. Alex senior, Alex junior and AnnaLee (not in the picture) not only took us to the lake but they drove us around it as well. As we drove we learnt some Spanish from them. They also invited us to lunch and offered us a lift back to Tepic, which we declined, opting to relax at the lake with our sandwiches instead. We are most grateful for their guided tour.
Raoul, Asaf & Leo
These guys are a very special bunch. They whisked us along the Michoacán coastline in Mexico, having picked us up at the stunning, isolated beach at Maruata and drove us to Caleta de Campos. This was a drive that will stay with us forever; for the scenery, the company and their choice of tunes. There couldn’t have been a more perfect soundtrack as we sped along the mad, windy (twisty), but beautiful Michoacán coast. There is one song in particular – “Los Caminos de la Vida”, by Vicentico, that will forever transport us back to this exact moment in time driving with Asaf, Raoul and Leo. This tune has become our signature song of our year on the road. Thank you guys!
Andy & Cheryl
We became friends with Cheryl and Andy in Zacatecas, where we were staying at the same hostel. We quickly realised we all had a lot in common, not least of which is our love for travelling through Mexico. In fact, we are all about to hit the road to Mexico here again this year and are hoping to meet up at some point along the way. We had a great night out at “Cantina 15 Letras” in Zacatecas, thanks for the beers Andy and Cheryl. We’ll get together again this year and catch up over some drinks, which are our treat this time! Can’t wait to see you both!
Manuel was our hitchhelper from Huisache, Mexico to Ciudad del Maiz, Mexico. He is a carpentry teacher who very patiently put up with us practicing our Spanish with him and answered a lot of questions we had about fruit and plants in Mexico. He even offered to bring us some tuna (cactus fruit) to try. Thank you Manuel and every other native Spanish speaker whose ears were subjected to our brutal Tarzan Spanish and whose patience with us knew no bounds.
Our chance meeting with Samuel is one of our favourite stories from the road. Samuel got chatting with us as we all watched a “Día de los Muertos” parade in Tapachula, Mexico. Before we knew it we had made arrangements to meet up the following evening for dinner. We shared pizza and exchanged stories of our various homelands. Samuel taught us some Spanish and we in turn assisted him with his already excellent English. Samuel very kindly bought us dinner that night. We plan on returning to Tapachula on our new adventure so that this time we may treat Samuel to dinner, and to catch up with our friend who took a chance on striking up a conversation with this couple of Drifters. Samuel, your kindness will never be forgotten by us.
We first met Doris on Thanksgiving back in 2011 on our first trip to Honduras. Doris was a stranger that we met on a crowded bus whose sweet nature left a lasting impression on us, so much so that we returned exactly 2 years later to the town of Copán Ruinas just to find Doris! On that initial bus journey Doris shared what food she had with us and taught us little bits of Spanish, even though she has next to no English and we have next no Spanish. It is truly amazing how language does not have to be a barrier if we all just try to communicate, however possible with each other. We have shared 2 Thanksgivings with Doris and even though this is an American holiday, our time spent with Doris epitomizes the true essence of this holiday. Doris holds a very special place in our hearts and we hope to see her again some day.
Lalo, José Luis & Gladys
As a hitchhiker, all lifts are great and all lifts are different. This one was both, and then some! We had stood waiting for a bus with Gladys and ended up hitchhiking with her due to the lack of buses. Gladys very kindly gave us each an amulet to protect us on our travels, even though she was the unfortunate victim of a robbery herself the week prior at her college. In no time at all we got a lift with 4 kind strangers who were celebrating the end of a long work week. They even stopped and bought us our own 6 pack of beer, crisps and a bottle of “Valentina” hot sauce for Jerry because he had mentioned his love for it in his limited Spanish.
So we lay in the back of a pick up truck drinking and every now and then our hitchhelpers would stop to replenish their own cups and reassure us everything was o.k. Are you kidding, of course everything was o.k! We rolled into Fresnillo, Mexico looking at a perfectly beautiful double rainbow, now drinking “Johnnie Walker Black” and “Red Bull” in the bed of the pick up truck. We also pretty much rolled out of the bed of that same truck. These guys were incredibly kind, even trying to give us some pesos as we said our good-byes. We declined the pesos but will never forget the amazing afternoon we had hitchhiking from San Tiburcio to Fresnillo with them.
Oscar & Doug
Doug and Oscar were our saviours in so many ways. They were actually our second lift after we crossed the border at Ojinaga, Mexico into Presidio, Texas. We tried hitching for over 2 hours with no shade; someone actually stopped to let us know it was 109° F out! Not only was it great to get into an air conditioned vehicle, it was also great to get a lift with 2 hitchhiker hosts who were hilarious. They had the best sense of humour and also provided us with lots of trivia of our surroundings as we drove.
When we got to their destination – Alpine, Texas they very kindly took us out for some beers to a couple of cool bars, “the Eskimo Hut” and “Harry’s Tinaja”. We had a fantastic evening hanging out with the two of them. At the end of the night, Doug’s generosity went even further and he put these two Drifters up in a motel for the night. Aside from all of their kindness – the lift, the beers, the motel, they provided us with something so much more, a kind of emotional support. We did not want to leave Mexico or our amazing year on the road; we were wrangling with “re-entry” and culture shock. Doug and Oscar cushioned the blow of “re-entry” for us. We can never Thank the two of you enough for everything but most importantly, we “Thank You” for being our “welcome wagon” as we returned stateside.
Brady found us attempting to hitch out of a construction zone around our on-ramp in Abilene Texas. He was driving a truck, along with a custom-made trailer designed by his Dad. As we drove and got to know each other he told us of his dreams of joining the financial sector and an impending interview which could make his dreams a reality. We are happy to say he is now following his dreams, having landed the job. Thanks for taking us to Fort Worth, Texas Brady!
Strangers No More!
If we have forgotten to mention anyone or accidentally omitted anyone, it is not intentional. In reality this would be an epic if I mentioned every sweet gesture expressed to us in our travels. The show of kindness and generosity we received was remarkable and it really is something that will stay with us forever.
These daily chance encounters where complete strangers have taken time out of their own lives to assist us really did restore our faith in humanity. These are the moments no guide book or online research can provide. In truth, as travellers and as humans, we just have to trust in each other (with a modicum of caution) and allow ourselves to be open to chance. After all, we are all strangers at some point.
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