First journal entry
A forward: this trip involved 7 of us. by charity regulations, no group could be larger than 3 people, and all women had to be accompanied by a male. thus, the 3 groups were myself and David, the second group being Bas and Giuseppe, the third group being composed by Aks, Greg and Leah (the only woman in our extended group of 7). I believe that this trip marked everyone involved, one way or another. within 5 days we travelled through half of the UK, the entirety of France and Spain, not to mention areas of Morocco itself. We all met some ingenious characters, and suffered through the woes thrown our way. As said, this is only the journal of one of the groups.
Hitch Hike to Morocco: Journal
Day 1: Leamington Spa to Portsmouth (13/03/05, Sunday)
All started well. We were dropped off by Antony at the service station on the highway (M40) outside of Leamington. Dave and I look around at our future prospects of potential drivers, which, to be honest, is not exactly inspiring. We picked up a bottle of water and headed out to the station exit with our trusty sign. Nothing happens, cars keep driving by, people won’t pick us up… what is to be expected? Although, we did have a cheeseburger thrown at us by some chavs… what was even more remarkable was the fact that they stopped 20 meters away, enticing us, bribing us, but there is no fucking way that we’d take the ride. Besides, how can 2 hitch-hikers possibly fit into a Fiat Punto crammed with 5 chavs?
In any case, after about 20 minutes of first starting this journey, a mini, green and sparkling, gave us a lift. Jim was his name (not the car) and his vehicle was a soft haven of GPS, franz Ferdinand, conversations regarding NGO’s and the “need” for a university education, and £200. £100 for myself and £100 for Dave. That brought me up to £240 raised for LINK. Safe.
Jim dropped us off at a service station outside of Oxford (which we would come to know very well) and there we waited, full of unbridled enthusiasm at the pot luck of our first hitch (paradoxically it was also Jim’s first time to give a lift to hitch-hikers). We waited 10 minutes before another guardian angel descended from the heavens to aid us in this journey. An angel with no name, an old BMW 3 series and imbued with the personality of a peacock, vain and proud. He turned out to be an optometrist who quizzed us on our beliefs of the world, young as we are, and I fear came to the conclusion that we had no ambition (at least in my case, Dave did medicine which garners a favourable impression on our dear Mr. Peacock). An old cunt of a fool he was. To top things off, he was the main cause for my first arrest.
Mr. Peacock apparently dropped us off near the junction to the M25 where we waited in vain for about 25 minutes. We prematurely decided, ultimately quixotically, to trek the 800 metres to the M25 junction and get rides from there. 5 minutes into the walk, a car sided up behind us so quietly I nearly soiled myself when I realised there was a car right behind us on the motorway. I am pretty sure I did crap myself when I saw who came out of the car; a police officer, shouting at us as a teacher would to a student. He chided and then laughed when we told him our tale though. On the record, we would be “arrested” so as to be able to be taxied back to a safer junction. En route to this new destination, after giving our details, they picked up another pedestrian on the motor way. This guy was seriously fucked; reeking of booze, dilated pupils, not at all in his senses, and ultimately only a menace to himself (but then again who of us are entirely in our senses? I suppose the police would like to have us think that they are, protecting society from the likes of us. But then again, the police have their own problems…).
The police, being the sanest elements of society, dropped us off at a junction outside slough. Slough of all places. Dropped us off at the crappiest roundabout in all of England’s green and pleasant land. We wait for the police to leave (who have dropped a couple of rungs on the ladder of my esteem), smoke a cigarette, and wait. There was a golf course nearby, and for some reason I found it appealing to go in an explore. But the prospect of entering a golf course with all our worldly possessions as well as the idea of being hassled by men wearing the worst bastardization of a tartan possible gets the better of us. Besides, we needed to get to Portsmouth.
Beelzebub’s ring road was worthy of Dante. We wrote a sign asking for Portsmouth, crossed the ring road, and waited, which is no easy feat considering the amount of chavs that mocked, jeered and generally pissed us off. We were told by a kind Hippie who was travelling with his 2 daughters, as well as by a dodgy character who was checking us out that our general direction was wrong. So we cross the ring road again. And wait. We are then told by some characters that we should head for Slough or Reading, because all cars going off the on-ramp are heading for London. We finally get a lift from Raja, a taxi driver from Birmingham who was in Slough to attend his uncle’s funeral. He had seen us trying to hitch out of that very real purgatory from when we had first arrived there, an hour and a half before. Raja kindly takes us back to the Oxford service station where the good old Mr. Peacock had first picked us up, causing us to waste a good 3 hours in backtrackings and idleness. Along the way Raja gave us his number and asked for a small gift from Morocco to be sent to him. That number was quickly lost.
Back in Oxford. KFC was extra greasy, exactly how the Sunday driver families like it. I also discovered that the Eastern European Union was greatly represented by the many tribes of trucker companies standing down for the night in Oxford. All were negligent in listening to our qualms and appeals for help. Neither were the company bus drivers ferrying sleeping passengers throughout Europe. In the end we decided to send the hitch to hell and took a bus into Oxford. From Oxford we took a train to Reading, Basingstoke, Southampton and finally Portsmouth. To kill time I discovered the wonders of the clié, especially it’s bookworm game.
Greg, Aks, Leah and Dave on the Ferry
We finally arrive in Portsmouth, scram to the ferry and somehow obtain tickets at a far cheaper price than the other 2 groups, with 5 minutes to spare though. We meet up with Aks, Bas, Giuseppe, Greg and Leah for a few glasses of wine and general merry-making. It was impossible to sleep on that ferry though. I tried sleeping on the sofas, on the reclining chairs, on the floor (where my jaw and sinuses vibrated worse than a rattlesnake on heat), finally getting about an hour’s worth of kip on the sofas in the reception hall.
End of day 1.