Hitchhiking from Madrid to Valencia
“Let’s hitchhike to Valencia!”, Dave tells me all excited.
“No way, you are crazy! Who in their right mind would stop to take us in Spain?”, I answered puzzled, driving myself into the pessimistic point of view used by the Spanish in this subject.
But then I gave it a thought and I asked myself, why not giving it a try?
At first it sounds easy, going on the road, putting your finger out, billboard in hand and wait until any kind soul pick you up. Nevertheless it wasn’t that way for we encountered several obstacles on our way.
First step to hitchhike: going to a petrol station
At 9.15 we arrive at the petrol station of Rivas, a town outside Madrid, on the way to A3, the highway that goes all the way to Valencia. We go there according to Hitchwiki a website that recommends the most suitable places to hitchike. We decide to stay right out of the petrol station, holding the billboard. Everyone will be able to see us here, we think.
Minutes vanished and people passed by and smiled like saying ‘I’m sorry I can’t take you’ or ‘I wish I could take you but I’m not going that far’ At least they smile, I would comfort myself, that’s enough.
Time kept on passing by and the sun ol no hacía justicia. We put on tones of sunscreen and drank litres of water to not die trying.
“I’m going to get to Valencia whatever the case may be!” Dave insisted and I thought to myself ‘poor him, he doesn’t get that we won’t get there by today…’
Sociological study around hitchhiking
Being for so long under these circumstances made me observe much more what happened around me. We were close to make a formal sociological study.
There were some who didn’t even look at us, I guess it was in order to avoid visual contact, afraid of being bewitched by us or of having to say no.
There were even the most extreme cases where they would go as far as they could from us and hit the pedal as fast as possible in order not to see our ‘beggar?’ faces.
There were also the ones who looked at us amazed and asking themselves what the hell we were doing there under the scorching sun. And last but not least there were ones who stopped and said with a smile on their faces, ‘I’m sorry I’m not going that far but good luck!’ Even tracks would blow the horn when passing by and some motorbikes offered themselves joking to take us to Valencia.
It was an adventure in its whole! Hours pass by and suddenly we see two blond girls coming in the petrol station, they come from the same path we had taken from the metro station. We observe them getting closer to each and every driver.
“Dave, I hope they are not hitchhiking!”
“Let’s figure it out, wait a minute.” He talks to them and comes back.
His face says it all: they are going to Valencia as well.
“No way! we’ve been here for two hours under the sun, this can’t be true!”
So we change the strategy, we go at the entrance of the petrol station, billboard in hand. This way whenever a car comes in they’ll surely see us.
After two hours and a bit I go to the bathroom for the first time and when I go out Dave tells me to ask a driver that is all by himself.
“Are you heading to Valencia?”
My face changes and I ask if he can please take us with him. “I’m sorry but I’m taking these girls already”, he answers.
How annoying! I was so mad at them! Disappointed, I come back and I say ‘I’m out of this, let’s go home’.
But we keep on trying. Hitchhiking has taught me a lot of things. This was one of them, if you really want to achieve something, go for it try once again and again even if they say no to you. It may happen that you will be sharing the path towards the fullfilment of your dreams with several people and it may also happen that they arrive first.
However, you shouldn’t give up!
We keep on asking one by one, driver by driver but either no one goes there or their cars are full. At last we find a man that says he would love to take us but he’s only going to a village in Cuenca.
Ok, that would do! we’ll see what to do there!
After three hours and something of waiting (at 12.57 specifically) we get on the first car. He’s a nice man whose first thing to say is that I’m not from Madrid that I must be either Canarian or Latinoamerican with that accent of mine. Well, I’m very used to it even I’m starting to like the fact that people can’t guess where I come from, it adds some mystery.
Since the very beginning we have interesting conversations with him about society, how the world works, the injustices and how hard we need to work in order to achieve what we want in life.
I always tell my son ‘throw the darts to the bullseye, to the same objectives, some will go out but the important thing is to keep on trying to hit the target’
Jesus also adds, ‘I’ve been hurt several times in my life but that doesn’t mean I should be mean to others, that’s why I picked you up, we should trust each other’.
Then we got into politics about which I’m not into talking to strangers but it was interesting anyway. We caughted up a bit of the way so we were profoundly grateful to him. He left us in Villarubio (Cuenca), a village to which a lot of Valencians go for lunch. ‘I think you’ll be lucky here’ he said and off he went.
First stop, Villarubio (Cuenca)
We ask the valet, we become friends, we tell him about our adventure and he says he’ll help us to get someone who can take us to Valencia. Jesús is from the Dominican Republic, he’s been over seven years in Spain and has a lot of stories to share.
It’s really hot but at least we are in the shade. We see people getting in, having lunch and leaving but no ones goes to Valencia.
Well, we’ll keep on waiting, it’s ok. Locals tell us if we can’t make it until Valencia we can still stay here because there’s a festival at night with some Valencian fireworks.
Great, we can also change planes and stay here! At least fireworks are from Valencia.
At some point everyone in the restaurant knows where we want to go, waiters ask their customers for help and Jesús does his best to find someone to take us.
A guy from Ecuador says this wouldn’t happen in his home country for we would have been taken before. It’s very common to do it there, he adds.
Dave and Jesús also agree on the fact that it’s easier to hitchhike in Latin America even if it’s more dangerous than in Spain.
What an irony, isn’t it? And I asked myself, what happened to us, Spanish people? have we become more untrusting? wasn’t it common to do it 20 or 10 years ago?
Two hours pass by and a man comes to us and asks if we are going to Valencia. We nod with a wide grin and they offer to take us to Albacete (two hours far from Valencia).
Perfect! Emilio y Elena are a very nice couple that have travelled all over the world and whom we have interesting conversations with.
In less than an hour we stop by a petrol station and they continue their way.
We are only 189 kilometers away from Valencia! We go in the exit and it takes us literaly ten minutes to get in the next car, the one that would take us all the way to Valencia.
2nd stop: somewhere in Albacete
Fernando y Ángela are Colombians and came all the way from Lisbon on holidays. The driver said to Dave, I’m taking you only because you are Venezuelan!
We didn’t have the chance of talking to them so much because the vallenato (typical Colombian music) invaded every space in the car. It was fun.
In an hour or so we were in the centre of Valencia. It’s 18.49, we made it!
We go to have a cup of coffee and decide to go to Cullera and spend the night there.
We go for a walk around Valencia, as beautiful as the last time I saw it and we have the best horchata (Valencian typical nut milk drink) I’ve ever had in one of the most famous horchaterías in town, Santa Catalina.
It tasted like heaven, now we really were back on track.
3rd stop, Cullera
We take the train that takes us to Cullera in 35 minutes. We go and buy some food and ask someone how to get to the beach.
The guard from the train station says it’s far away and that we would have to take a bus.
Suddenly a girl comes to us and asks ‘are you going to the beach?, I’m waiting for my boyfriend, we’ll take you there’! You may have to wait a bit though.
Don’t worry, we’ve been waiting the whole day.
Nacho and Pilar show us the best beaches in town and recommend which is the best one to sleep.
It’s fun how at the end of the trip we didn’t even have to ask to be taken, they came to us!
We eat on the beach, sand between our fingers and the full moon as a witness. The day couldn’t have finished in a better way.
We start walking and looking for a nice place to sleep. We swim, water is incredibly good and we go to bed soon, tremendously tired.
In the morning we wake up with these views:
It’s Sunday, we have breakfast and we pick up our sleeping bags and go back to the train station. After walking for an hour or so (we never thought it was so far away) we finally reached the station and took the train to Valencia.
We go all the way until the end of Avinguda del Cid, an area that according to the instructions on Hitchwiki is the best area to hitchhike in Valencia. We walked for an hour and a half to the recommended spot, thinking (again) that it’d be closer.
We look at the place for a while and say ‘no, it’s impossible to hitchhike here ‘. There are a lot of cars going to the A3 but they pass by really fast. Sometimes they stop in a traffic light for a second but that’s not enough.
We keep on walking, we have to find another spot! We find a petrol station on the way to Madrid. I desperately go under a ficus shade to rest and drink water.
This petrol station is far more quiet and it’s 2 PM. We ask some drivers without being lucky. One of the workers says it will be a bit hard and that we may get hitched from 4 PM on.
I see myself taking a bus but Dave insists and goes out of the petrol station, once again, billboard in hand.
Around 3 pm a car stops by, it’s a young couple. Dave tells me to come and I think to myself ‘they will just go some kms far’ But they were going to Madrid!
Romina, a girl from the Canary Islands and Nicolas, from New Zealand. They met in Irak while working for an NGO that helps refugees from the Kurdistan to integrate into society.
He’s on holidays in Spain and they are having a tour before he goes back to Irak again.
Nicolas tells us a bit about the situation in the country. He wants to go there so badly because his job fullfills him, it’s his life.
He says he’s not able to explain why. ‘One needs to be in the country to fully understand the situation’.
But I do understand him, I can see it in his eyes when he talks about the children he teaches. ‘For most of them we are their only family’, he says with a smile on his face.
It may sound stupid but I’m happy there.
Not at all, I think it’s very brave of you, I answer. If you are happy that’s the most important thing.
In some hours we arrive in Madrid, with a new adventure on our back, an adventure that at the beginning seemed difficult but that we finally achieved by being persistent and patient, like everything else in life.
One simply needs to have the goal in mind and go for it!
So, next time someone tells you something is impossible, show them it’s not!
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