As volunteers we are not exactly rich people, but money is never an important point of reference in a volunteering life, finally we all like rice and onion for dinner and who need luxuries like a new pair of socks, you can always repair the old ones. Also that’s why the lack of financial resources never stops us from doing interesting things and enjoying our stay in a Romania as much as we can. Traveling is an important part of the experience, and for me traveling with small budget is a thing that I’m used to even in my not volunteering life, but right now it’s, let’s call it, more challenging. The simple answer to the difficult question of how to travel without money is: hitchhiking! And to be honest, hitchhiking is perfect when travelling for volunteers not only ´cause of the being for free part, this form of transport offers also other benefits.
First of all the fact that some strangers are deciding to stop their cars and invite you inside, just after looking at your face and the piece of paper with the name of the city (and to be honest sometimes they are really ridiculously far away, or for example in the other country), for few seconds can really make you believe in humanity, or at least it makes you believe that there are some other people like you, just curious or bored or crazy enough to decide that potential benefit from inviting the stranger to their car can be bigger than potential risks. Even if we don’t have the looks of the psychopathic killers… who knows, right?
The other positive part of it is the fact that hitchhiking abroad is probably the best existing possibility to practice languages. It’s not a mistake, not only one language, during our trips we had the possibility to have a conversations not only in Romanian or English but also in Spanish, Italian, French (even if our only reaction was: Je ne parle pas français) or Ukrainian, ´cause in the end, important part of this kind of trips is to find a way to communicate with yourbenefactor no matters how, even if a big part of your communication will be just smiles and gestures. And, at this point, we are getting to the biggest advantage of this kind of trips. When you finally find the car, and you discover the communication method with the car driver then you have really an amazing opportunity to get to know a lot about the country that you are in. The conversations about politics, interesting places in Romania or somewhere else, or just about how live is in Romania are not a rare thing, in the end what else can you do when you are locked with the stranger in such a small area? (Rita’s answer will be: sleep). So even if the conversation are not always cheerful or easy I always have the feeling that at least they are honest and that this is one of the best way to really get to know something about reality in the country.
I created this beautiful image of hitchhiking by skipping the few disadvantages like the fact that sometimes you are cold, or tired and the trip is completely unpredictable or even sometimes you are just not in the talking mood and still you need to keep the conversation going on. But really why to write about that if still the stories that we are telling later to the others are mostly the compilations of the best staff that happened. Finally we made it, we are in the place of our destination, we met some people, we got to know some things, sometimes we even got some food and we didn’t pay for that.
So … where are we going next people?