Translation for 140 languages by ALS
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowline.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail.
Explore. Dream. Discover
---Mark Twain


Going my way?

I've only tried it once before; and that was out of sheer desperation. In Mexico City, of all places! I gave it another shot the other day because, after all, I'm in Europe and the European take on it is very much different than in America. It's an accepted and commonplace practice. So when in Europe...hitch-hike.
If skuzzy-looking cannabis activists can get picked up, then surely I can
This time it wasn't desperation as much as economic experimentation: Try hitch-hiking, I convinced myself. Everyone else does and gets on just fine. I read about it on've met guys and girls who swear by I finally said, Why not? Why exhaust my little funds paying for bus and train tickets and organized carpooling when I could have that much more money to spend on myself? Shoot, if skuzzy-looking cannabis activists can get picked up, then surely I can be trusted to be given a ride. How hard can this be!

I found the demarcated liftplaats in Amsterdam, held up my sign - BERLIN (with a a little bear drawn on for good measure) - and waited. Clean-cut, showered, and travelling light (I discarded and 'donated' nearly half my luggage to the hostel the previous night) I was hopeful and in place at 11am. Ten minutes later three white girls came by. Two were heading to Osnabruck and the one with the guitar, Berlin. Five minutes later three white girls, rucksacks, guitar and all were riding to Germany -- in the same vehicle. Oooooookay. After twenty-five minutes of nothing the hitch-hiking guide suggests one head to the nearby gas station around the bend, reasoning drivers would be easier to talk to and, thus, less resistant to picking up strangers. Another twenty some minutes dragged by. Nope, no luck there either. Running out of patience and time - I figured to use the remaining minutes on the 1hour metro card to get back to the hostel - I headed back to the liftplaats for one last try. There I saw an itty-bitty little two-seater giving a lift to a typical-looking backpacker and his typically overstuffed rucksack -- with the original passenger squeezing in the back to make room. And with that all optimism went with the wind.

Thankfully I managed to get a discounted bed in the hostel and comfortably regrouped for another day. To infer my skin color negatively effected my chances of scoring a lift may not be empirical data but, then again, I'm not an empirical scientist. I'm the oft overlooked traveller: a black man. Real world is my laboratory. And that's what this website is all about. 
Or As the old rhyme melodically chimes: If you're white, you're all right. If you're yellow, you're mellow. If you're red, go on ahead. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, get back.  

PS: I didn't get a ride in Mexico City either.

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