About how we hitchhiked to a wedding (+VIDEO)
Are you familiar with the term ‘wedding-crashing’, which describes attending a wedding celebration without an invitation? I’m wondering if there is anything called ‘wedding-hitching‘, which is arriving at a wedding by solely using your thumb? Well, if there isn’t such a term yet, we should definitely coin one as this is what we have recently (and successfully) undertaken…
The decision to embark on such a trip wasn’t an easy one as there were many disadvantages that spoke against it. The lazy voice at the back of our heads kept bugging us to take a coach, which would have been a much easier option, but in spite of having to hitchhike out of London (which is a massive city, surrounded by motorways) with a suit and a huge and heavy wedding gift, we decided to take on the challenge. We are adventurous like that! ;)
First leg – hitchhiking out of suburban, middle-class London
As you may know, the first lift is usually the most difficult one and it wasn’t different in this case. We had to hitchhike out of the suburbs of London, where everybody drives, has a house and raises their kids. So, as you can imagine, a hitchhiker isn’t the most regular sight in these parts.
Our aim was to get on the M25 – the huge orbital motorway that goes around London. If you wanted to drive round the second biggest ring road in the world, it would take you around 3h!
So we figured we needed a good sign that would draw people’s attention.
Before our first lift many cars had passed, some people read the sign and smiled, and some just brushed us off completely. We had to wait for about an hour before the first car stopped. It was a crane truck packed full of men at work who were going to Dover, so it was of no help to us, but it gave us some courage and we knew that more people were soon to stop.
Our first lift was a young guy called Laurie who was driving a van full of furniture which he was about to sell and embark on an one-way trip through South – East Asia. Hope he’s on his way now!
Laurie dropped us off at a service station on the M25 from where we were soon picked up by an Iraqi truck driver called Nouzad.
Second leg – in a truck with an Iraqi truck driver
Nouzad was a lovely guy even if slightly weird. The first thing he asked us to do, after we got in the lorry, was to show him our ID cards! It was the first time we’d ever been asked to show an ID in a car, but there you go… We didn’t really have anything on us apart from our Spanish gym cards but it seemed to be enough for him.
He took us a long way, so we had a long time to chat. ‘I have been living in England for 20 years’, he said, ‘so I’m like a local here, you know. My parents and my sister moved to the UK when I was a child and I went to school here. Back in Iraq we lived in a village where everyone speaks Kurdish and Turkish, and I can speak Arabic too.‘
When we asked him about the current humanitarian crisis in Iraq, he said that ‘from what my family and friends back home have told me, people are running away, whole villages are… They go and sit in the mountains but they have no water there, so many people will never return… And there is nowhere else to go. When they go down the mountain they get shot. Everyone is running away from ISIS.‘
Then he gave us some delicious date-filled home-made cookies and as we were going passed a caravan, Nouzad expressed his very strong feelings against them. ‘I don’t get why people buy them. They cost around 40,000 quid and then you have to run them and find a camping spot with electricity. Just go to a bloody hotel and pay 40 quid a night, that’s much cheaper! If I was a president I would just ban them altogether, bloody things. You don’t need them!’
And by the time we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. Nouzad dropped us of on the slip road to Bath from where we got our last lift.
Third leg – meeting a Brit who lives in Nairobi
Our last and shortest lift was with a guy called Tim who was on his holidays visiting his family and friends back home. ‘I work for the EU and live in Nairobi, Kenya. This kind of luxurious car is not what I drive in my every day life, as you can imagine’. When we asked him about life in Nairobi he said it was pretty developed and there were shopping centres popping up like mushrooms after rain.
When we’d arrived in Bath we had about an hour to look around before our friend came to pick us up. It’s a lovely little town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so we highly recommend a visit if you ever have the chance.
written by: Ania