Am I really going to do this?! I asked myself. I hadn’t hitchhiked since age 18 when I spent a summer at Chateau Lake Louise in Canada. Few of us who worked there had cars, and there was no public transportation to the nearest town Banff. I remember three of us (safety in numbers?) once piled into a car that was being carried on a transport truck. After arriving safely, we didn’t give much thought to possible dangers.
Now, decades later, I am leaving the Val de Drome, in France, where I spent two lovely weeks taking care of an outdoor cat – quite the easy assignment – appreciating the beauty of this valley, the friendliness of the village locals, and inhabiting a sweet “cabine” where I worked on my coaching business. There was no bus down to the train station and the locals had assured me it was safe to hitchhike in their valley.
On the day of departure I placed my luggage neatly by the roadside in the center of the village, reminding myself what to do: “Okay, this is for real – stick out your thumb!”
A young couple smiled at me on their walk back from the bakery, commenting that it was a nice morning for a “faire du stop” down to the station. I was pleased to pick up a new French phrase to describe my activity of the moment. Now I just want a nice driver to pick me up!
Five cars went by without a glance. The sixth one stopped. An older resident who was going part way down the valley. I thanked him and declined his offer. I was feeling encouraged!
In the next batch of cars there were drivers who smiled at me, gesturing regrets that they didn’t have room, or were only going to the village market. They were followed by a number of drivers who didn’t encourage my venture in any way.
At this point my confidence was dropping. I actually considered calling a cab. I was tempted to give up. Yikes. I then realized this situation is like creating my new business – some have interest and others don’t – my job was to have faith in myself and keep connecting with those who do!
In the very moment I almost lost my nerve, a kind gentleman stopped and said he would be happy to take me right to the train station. We had a great conversation about life in the beautiful valley.
So in leaving Val de Drome I can attest – J’ai vraiment fais du stop!
A few weeks later, the Brits voted to Brexit. I flew to the U.K. soon after that shocking decision. After checking into tiny Rotterdam airport early I boarded an almost empty flight. Imagine my surprise to arrive in Manchester and discover that my suitcase had gone missing!
When I commented to the luggage handler that it seems odd to lose luggage on a flight with only 12 people, he muttered sideways to his colleague “12 people – that’s a record!” Anything to do with separating from the EU? I was left to wonder. The bag found me later.
From Manchester I took a train to Edinburgh. Scotland was the home of my maternal great-grandparents, and I was excited to finally visit.
For dinner I ordered haggis, made from sheep stomach, the food of my ancestors. For years I had wondered what haggis tasted like. My conclusion? Not bad, not remarkable, and one experience will do it for me!
When it came to breakfast, I saw the “full Scottish breakfast” advertised at a cafe in Inverness. A couple next to me ordered this popular breakfast. I definitely was not tempted, though curious about what the “Stornaway black pudding” could be. They supplied the answer – sheep lung. No thanks. Later I learned the northern Irish call this breakfast the “ulcer fry.”
I’m happy that I met interesting locals in Scotland. They are free to eat whatever they want, as I am…a scrambled egg and toast with orange juice.
And glad that my ancestors would not likely have eaten ulcer fry breakfasts; otherwise I might not be here to write about it!