I’m not an experienced hitchhiker. Before this current trip, I’ve only hitchhiked once: from San Francisco to Mount Rushmore. It was because I had one week of holidays and nothing better to do, so I wanted to try hitchhiking. Plus hitching through half of the United States sounded fun, I too wanted to be a Sal Paradise or a Dean Moriarty, to be one of those “mad” ones, “the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” Read Kerouac’s On the Road, folks.
Then one day I arrived at the border of Mexico, with almost no experience in hitchhiking. Only with a “mad” heart. And a thumb. That’s all you need if you want to hitchhike, I guess.
Of course, people told me stuff. Stuff like “You’re crazy to hitchhike!” or “No way in Mexico!” or “I heard in the news that blablabla”. There’s a famous website among hitchhikers called Hitchwiki. In their Mexico page there’s even a funny story:
The driver asked me to drive and once I was behind the wheel informed me that the van was full of Colombia’s finest. I nearly shat myself, but the experience turned out to be quite interesting, as we were forced to make several detours to avoid police checkpoints, taking me through beautiful and remote parts of the Oaxacan mountains I otherwise never would have discovered. Be careful not to get set up. A very, very, rare occurrence, but one that can happen.
All those warnings and stories actually even made me want to hitchhike more.
And the hitchhiking starts!
So I started sticking my thumb out. I’ll remember Jimmy, the first guy who gave me a ride, that was in Baja California. And thus the adventure began!
And five months later, it ended in Cancún, on the other side of Mexico. The benevolence of Mexican people made this crossing pretty easy. Sticking out my thumb on the side of the road was generally enough, 20 minutes or so of waiting and someone would pick me up. Sometimes I preferred talking directly to people filling their gas in gas stations, especially if they were truck drivers; this worked better generally, an initial contact helps a lot.
And when Mexicans help you, they help you well. I mean, very well. How many times did they invite me to eat something during a pause, or gave me food and drinks in the car! A couple of times, the people who lifted me even proposed to host me for one or two nights! Which of course I more than happily accepted. Other times, the guy would just call his cousin who was going the same way I was, to tell him to wait for me and give me a ride. Lovely country.
And several times you get the privilege to live a day beside your driver. I got pick up once by a milkman. So instead of going directly to the city I wanted in 1 hour, he said he would go by villages and sell his milk. I followed him, and we made it in 3 hours, but I got to see 5 or 6 wonderful villages I would never have visited otherwise, and saw how his everyday life was! Another time, I got a lift from a postman. He was going to the next city, and I was going further, but there are always other postman vans transporting mail to further cities. So at that city, I helped carrying some huge bag of mails from one car to the other, chatted with all the postmen, and hopped on the second car!
Other times, a pickup truck will give you a lift. In this case, you don’t get to talk with the driver. Instead, you hop on behind, make yourself comfortable and kiss the wind!
Bad hitchhiking experiences
But happy stories won’t interest you. Scary ones might though. I’m sure you want to know if anything bad ever happened to me in Mexico while hitchhiking.
Bad news for you, I’m still free and alive today, so nothing really bad ever happened. But I did have some experiences that were somewhat hmmm… funny, more than scary, I should say.
It was a hot afternoon. The truck driver took me in his truck, we were driving a good 80km/h South, talking and laughing. He suddenly says: “Hey listen, I’m a little tired now, ’ve been driving for a couple of hours now. Do you mind if I go and take a cup of coffee at the next stop?” Of course I didn’t mind, and we both drank a nice café con leche at a cafeteria a little further down the road.
We went back to the truck, then he added: “Hey listen, I’m still extremely tired. Do you mind if I smoke a little bit?” Ok… Maybe… “Marijuana?” I asked, of course it wasn’t going to be a cigarette I thought. “No.” And he took out a tiny little plastic Ziploc-like bag with some white powder in it. “Cristal,” he says calmly. Which means meth in Spanish.
Now here’s an interesting “practical information” paragraph on how to smoke meth with household objects. Take a light bulb, cut off its electric foot contact (the bottom part) with a knife. Turn the light bulb upside down, pour some meth and put a straw in it. Wrap the hole of the bulb with aluminum foil around the straw, so that no air can come out apart from the straw. Heat the light bulb up from beneath with a lighter. Smoke. Heat up. Smoke. Heat up. Smoke. Put some more meth. Repeat until you’re jumping all around the place.
The guy smoked for like 45 minutes. I thought he might be vitalized enough to start driving. And he was. 100km/h, overtaking some little cars with his trailer truck. It was a nice ride, altogether.
Then I slowly learned that all truck drivers in Mexico take drugs. All of them. And by drugs I don’t mean marijuana. So I got used to it, and it didn’t bother me so much anymore.
Another time, I went into another truck. I started talking with the 40-year-old driver, asking him all those superficial little-talk questions. I asked him: “Where’s your wife?” “I don’t have a wife.” “Oh. How about your novia (girlfriend)?” “I don’t have any novia either.” He might be gay, I thought.
And when he asked for my name, and I answered Amaury, he added: “Ohhh Amaury guapo (handsome)!” Ok, he was gay.
It didn’t bother me of course. But then he said something strange: “Ayyy me duelen los huevos! Y me duele la verga también!” Literally, “My balls hurt. And my dick hurts too.”
No answer from me. After several minutes of silence, he told me that it was illegal for him to have passengers in his truck, and there might be policemen on the road, so it was better if I didn’t sit in the front seat of the truck, but instead hid myself on the bed just behind (yes, there’s a bed in truck cabins).
So I executed, it was a fair point. When suddenly he added: “And it’s hot back there. So you can take of your clothes and your pants if you want.” Ok… “Thank you amigo, but I think I’m fine!
We continued talking for a while, me trying to choose the most not-sexual topics I could think of. Then I ran out of ideas. So silence it was. I was sitting on the bed, my two legs stretched in front of me. And suddenly the driver, still driving, started to caress my knee.
Then my thigh.
“Stop it,” I said while pulling off my legs, a little bit annoyed. More silence.
After another few minutes, he said: “Hmmm I’m a little bit tired (are all truck drivers tired or what?), I’m going to sleep a little while, in that bed. But stay there too, there’s space for two.” No need to explain to you that it wasn’t a queen size bed in that truck cabin. That was his move. So I simply said: “Listen amigo, you can rest, just pull the truck over, I’ll go out and find another ride, and then you rest as long as you want.” So then he stopped, disappointed I guess, and I found another ride some time later.
A couple of times I even got lifted by self-proclaimed drug dealers. Whatever. All they did was telling me spots to buy cheap and good quality mota (weed) near the place they left me.
As you see, these ain’t bad experiences, I wasn’t scared for my life or anything at any point. And the road stories and all the strangers I met make these incidents so miserable and insignificant. That’s why I’ll continue to hitchhike, because there’s no better way to travel.
Don’t forget to comment about my stories, or if you have any funny hitchhiking experiences you can share them here too!