bit by bit

I consider asking people for a ride to London on the ferry, knowing that getting a ride in Dover itself might be tough but I’m just too tired. I find a little bench in a corner, lie down and try to sleep. When I wander off the ferry I walk over a bus lane and immediately a cop yells at me. This time two days ago I was still in a place where such safety concerns weren’t even an issue. I’ll have to readjust.

Dover is wedged between the cliffs and the sea. It’s just a few streets deep and there’s one main street leading to the motorway and it’s filled with trucks, cars and every other vehicle getting off the ferry. I try to find a good place for cars to stop but it’s getting late and I’m still tired. Also, because the town is fairly tightly packed, I don’t immediately see a good place to camp. Figuring I’ve not seen a bed or shower in the last three days and I’ve just spotted a hostel on the map I decide to fork out some cash in exchange for a roof over my bed.

I start off the next day full of hope. London is only an hour or two away, so it really should not be a problem. Ideally I’d get a straight ride there but it’s still difficult to find a place where cars can stop, and I’ve been waiting for about an hour before the first guy offers me a lift. He’s only going as far as the next town, but I’ve hitchhiked out of there once before so I figure it’s good enough. However two hours later I’m still at the place where he dropped me off, so I walk to a smaller road which, on the map, I’ve seen leading to a petrol station by the highway.

There it doesn’t take long to get a ride, but it also doesn’t take long for black smoke to start billowing out of the car’s exhaust right on the highway. The two friends driving call another friend of theirs to tow us to the next town where again I’m stuck for several hours. This time there really isn’t a good place for cars to stop. But finally someone offers to take me to a service station several dozen kilometers up the road.

I’m still there when the sun sets. I’m considering finding a place to sleep in the bushes, but I decide to wait by the road a little while longer. I’m pretty angry and frustrated. These last two days have definitely been among my worst hitchhiking experiences progress wise, but then again stuff like this happens. And I should know that nothing is guaranteed in this way of travel. By nine o’clock I’ve been on the road for 11 hours for a 60-kilometer journey. But thankfully two women finally stop and offer to drop me off at an underground station in London. They’re driving pretty recklessly and the driver occasionally takes sips from a can which I think has alcohol in it and I’m not sure whether I feel more nervous or relieved.