I missed my flight from London to Cologne (…for the 2nd time) and felt a strong urge to take it by land so I stepped out of the airport and began my hitchhike to Cologne.
I walked up to the first car I saw and told the driver about my current spite for airplanes and my plan to head south. My first step was to get to France via the English Channel.
My first lift was with Logan, 28 and English of African descent. He was a Nike sponsored track and field athlete until he suffered an injury. He has been working his current engineering job since graduation which he was tired of. He used his story of how the terrible work hours caused his missus to leave him and used it as fuel to have the company send him to school, no strings attached.
The trip ended smoothly at a lorry stop and I found my next lift to the ferry docks in less than 15 minutes with Mr. Middle-aged and balding.
Mr. Middle-aged and balding is divorced and has a fondness for the English language. He has been picking up “me cupa tea” at the lorry for over 15 years and insisted that the people there knew him, inferring he was a trust-worthy person. He believed I wouldn’t learn my lesson from missing my flights because there have been no consequences to my actions. So I asked him, how would I learn my lesson? He asked me a good question. Why did this happen?
Mr. Middle-aged and balding went the extra 15 kilometres from his destination to the ferry docks. He felt good about this deed and said that a smile was the only reward he needed before insisting again that I wouldn’t learn my lesson and drove off.
Rather than buying a passenger ticket for the ferry, I bought a bus ticket to Brussels for the same price… however, it was a bus that would zoom by me half an hour later. I was able to get onto the next bus from the same company going to Paris, to take me on the ferry in hopes that I would catch it there.
I ended up in Paris and argued my way into a ticket to Cologne which would leave in the morning. I was hoping to stay at the station but was accepting and expecting to wander and sleep very little that night if I could not. As some people were getting kicked out of the station, I used some magic (pity) and ended up in the driver’s lounge for the night:
7am rolled by and I was on the bus to Brussels where I would have a 5 hour stop-over. My time there consisted of meeting a friend for training, seeing the infamous peeing boy statue and eating chocolate and waffles. Loved it.
I arrived in Cologne late in the evening and could no longer get the keys to my friend’s apartment. I was faced with either sleeping at the airport or crashing with someone lived an hour away. I felt I was 80% to my breaking point. What was supposed to be a few weeks of quiet time after a month of intense social interactions was turning into just a stop-over before my next journey. I chose to meet with my host because… sleep. I arrived at his place while he and his homies were making an order off the dark net. We had some good chats, went to sleep and in the morning, Super Smash Brothers Meleed it before finally acquiring the keys to the apartment, for some moments of solitude.
why did I do this?
Why did I take what turned out to be a 54 hour journey rather than the 1 hour flight that I could afford? Stubbornness. Frugality. The curiosity to know how I would act in this unknown situation. Something that stuck with me early on in my training was that if there are two paths, always take the difficult one. But why? During a late night conversation with Thomas before my sleep at the Parisian bus station, I came to a conclusion. It makes life more simple for the future. I do have to note, my title quote is quite arrogant. I might be pretty average at dealing with shitty conditions of uncharted conditions like famine. I would prefer to have thought of being more tolerant of shitty conditions by comparing it with the softer Mandy of the past.
Until next time,