Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My first hitch hiking experience

Some time around December I was in Livingstone Zambia, and the group from my school was still traveling with me. I was getting pretty low on funds at the time, so when my friends decided to go rafting on the Zambezi river, I decided to stay behind, and plan an adventure of my own. I knew that since the group was going home soon, and I would be in Africa on my own, I should probably get use to traveling solo.
Livingstone is very close to the Botswana border, and when I asked for advice on how to get there cheap from the owner of our hostel, she told me that some people hitch hike, if they had more time than money. I thought that would be the ultimate adventure, all while getting me use to a new cheap way of getting around.
I headed out the next morning, finding my way to the highway that leads to the border. From there I just started walking, refusing touts from numerous taxi drivers or mini buses. I wasn't walking down the road waving down cars for too long, as within 20 minutes a little truck picked me up. I can't remember the guys name, but he said he was a Botswanian returning home after visiting relatives. He said it was very curious seeing a big white boy walking down a lonely highway in the middle of no where, waving down passing cars, and I'm sure it was.

I remember this event well, because of a few important factors. First off, it was my first time striking out completely on my own in a foreign country as remote and strange, and some would say hostile as Zambia. It was liberating almost to know that I had what it takes to just go out and do what most would never even consider, especially since I had many more months of similar adventures planned.

Another reason I felt this little adventure was worthy of mentioning, was because on the way to the border, along the long lonely highway, I got glimpses of my first African big game animals. The driver was kind enough to pull over for me to get pictures a few times, when a giant giraffe was hanging out on the side of the road, or herd of gazelles ran out in front of us. It is a pretty memorable moment, seeing these huge animals up close, in their natural environment, and not on t.v or in zoos.

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