Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Journey to England Part VI

Holy shit part six?! Pretty soon I'll be at part seven, and then 


And beyond!

So where were we? More hitchhiking! Yes, at this point the novelty had worn off. It was no longer a case of "we'll get there when we get there, and it'll be an adventure either way!" No, it was more like "why won't these fucking assholes just give us a ride?" As it turned out, most of the people that picked us up weren't that cool so the act of hitching was no longer an end in and of itself, it was merely the means to an end, and one that consistently took way longer than we expected.

So, to Sterling Scotland! The first guy came after a little over an hour, and he only took us a few miles to the highway. Perfect! At this rate, we'll make it to Sterling by approximately never. It's funny how when things don't go your way you start extrapolating the horrors in your mind, so after that first ride took awhile I was considering what we would do in case we never made it to Sterling, or worse yet, if the entire country of England all decided to stop picking up hitchhikers forever. Then we'd have to walk all the way back to London, and I wasn't ready for that.

Lucky for us, the next guy came after about ten minutes. We immediately stopped hating everything, and came to an understanding with the world. It didn't take much good fortune for us to feel like a million bucks. So we chatted with this next guy a bit, and the only thing I remember was looking at the hillsides and noticing a trend. SHEEP.

There's one in there somewhere.

I asked him why there were so many damn sheep everywhere you looked and he said "we haven't actually got all that many, it's just England's so small, we have to put them everywhere." Interesting fact, when I think back on these rides, I remember myself riding in the front right side, even though this was England, and that's impossible unless you're driving. Hmm.

He dropped us at a service station, and we took a breather for some food. And we saw this fat little bird. 

"My wife left me."

At this point we started doing what we'd done at the previous service station: guilting people into giving us rides. We looked at our map and figured we'd ask people if they were headed towards Glasgow. The first guy I asked said "no, I'm only going up to Carlisle, but I can take you that far." Carlisle was about fifty miles closer. VICTORY DANCE! 

This guy was pretty interesting. He was driving to Carlisle to pick up a guitar. It was a better idea than having it shipped, lest it break in transit. Then multiple companies involved in the process would all blame each other and he'd be fucked. After our little lesson in economics, we learned that this guy had been falsely accused of cocaine smuggling, which he only found out after inquiring about the status of his visa after over two years of waiting. He needed his visa to go see his son in the US, but since he apparently had a similar name to someone involved with the drug trade, he was red flagged, and never allowed back in the states. To clear this up he would have to jump through bureaucratic hoops for probably the rest of his life, so he just settled on waiting for his son to visit him instead. Here's hoping that happens some day!

So there we were in Carlisle, about five miles from the border of Scotland. At an earlier point we had decided the border was a good goal for day one of hitching, and we had a couple hours of daylight, so we were in good shapel! 

Yay! Not long now!

The excitement over almost reaching our goal wore off pretty quickly, because we weren't at a service station, couldn't do the guilt trip thing, and were once again stuck. After a good forty five minutes we said "fuck it, maybe people will pick us up if we dance." So we both started to riverdance ridiculously. No exaggeration, about five seconds later, another trucker pulled over. One of the top five best moments of my life.

This guy was out of his mind. His accent was so thick we could barely understand him. He asked us where we were from in between puffs on a spliff. We told him, and he mentioned his friend in Texas, to whom he mails hash in exchange for coke. 

Seems like a fair trade.

Out of curiosity, we asked him how he gets gets away with mailing drugs. Apparently you have to do it in small amounts underneath cd jewel cases. Future drug entrepreneurs take note. It occurred to me how strange it was to meet an actual cocaine smuggler so shortly after meeting a falsely accused cocaine smuggler. 

We crossed the border into Scotland, and he dropped us near a completely empty train station. 


We checked the schedule to see if it might just make more sense to do that instead of hitching. Well, it wasn't going to come for a long ass time, and cost money, so we took our chances on the road again. We didn't seem to be near any sort of main road, so we just walked through some smaller roads for a mile or so then glanced up and saw a "speed limit 70" sign. Whoops! We were on the highway somehow, and it's illegal to hitchhike on the highway. We checked our map, realized where we were and noticed a service station a couple miles away. We walked back a ways to this guy that had parked his delivery truck on the side of the road and asked him if he'd take us there. He seemed sympathetic, but was on the job and didn't want to get in trouble. He told us we should just walk, and if we get stopped say "Sorry! Didn't know." Then he paused, clearly weighing some pros and cons, and said "ah fuck it, I'll chance it." Woohoo! It was nearly nightfall, but we were in a good place. It was getting too dark to hitch, so we decided to camp for the night. We hiked through the woods a little ways, and hopped a fence into some farmer's field. After hopping the fence I lost my balance a bit and had to put my hand down--into a big pile of shit and mud. Awesome. We pitched the tent at the end of some random field, out of sight from everything. Here's a picture of it.

Not much different than most fields really.

We hoped to not get woken up by an angry farmer, or worse, an angry animal. 


Overall, we were about halfway to Sterling, and were optimistic. Stay tuned. 

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