My First Quasi Hitchhiking Experience

Rio Claro Colombia

Rio Claro

I just got back from a trip to Rio Claro, a beautiful river in the middle of Bogotá and Medellín. We left Medellín at night to sleep in one of the nearby pueblos. Our first stop was San Antonio de Pereira, which had a surprisingly active nightlife. Apparently there was a festival going on that weekend (you can find a festival in Colombia every day of the year), so it was pretty packed. Unfortunately, the hotels were out of our budget, or sold by the hour (no thanks!), so we had to move on to the next one. We ended up in Marinilla, another typical Paisa pueblo. Though the hotels were affordable here, the nightlife was seriously lacking. The only bar open was playing slow, sad 60s music from Spain and Latin America. My friend pointed out the music was designed for drinking, which was evidenced by the patrons chugging local brews and singing along like it was a group karaoke performance. I thought the music was more for crying or killing yourself.

The next morning we drove to Rio Claro. I found a hotel at the edge of the nearest pueblo, Doradal. I spent a couple of days disconnected from the computer, staring at the rocks in the river and walking through nature. It’s something I hardly ever do, and even though there was a ton of people, it was nice for me to take the time out.

inch worm Rio Claro Colombia

an inch worm

I had been catching buses between the entrance to the river and the pueblo, a distance of about 20 kilometers or 12.5 miles. However, on Sunday, I sat outside waiting for half an hour for a bus, and none came. So I decided to start walking, thinking I could flag down a bus on the way. So I walked. And walked. For some strange reason, no bus would stop for me. Did my long skirt and backpack make me look homeless or something? A few trucks passed by honking their horns to offer me a ride, but I have yet to get rid of the warning that we hear in the US about hitchhiking – don’t do it or you will be murdered by a serial killer and left dead on the side of the road.

All in all, I walked for about 3½ hours. I went through a variety of emotions while walking. At first, I tried to stay hopeful. “I’m sure a bus is coming really soon!” I thought. Then, I was furious at the whole world. “Why the #@%* is this happening to me? Why won’t a stupid &*%^ bus stop for me?” Realizing this emotion would hardly serve me, I changed it to one of perseverance. There is nothing to do except take it one step at a time. “This is an interesting travel experience,” I told myself. “Use it as a walking meditation.” “How cool will I feel if I actually make it there, walking 20 kilometers in my flip flops?”

Rio Claro Colombia

watching the river flow

The sun had set, and it was hard to see in some places. I chastised myself for passing up all the trucks honking. Finally, a motorcyclist stopped without me signaling him. He asked me a couple of questions, and told me he would take me to Doradal. Woo hoo! Before I agreed, I did an internal review to see what his vibes were telling me, and decided he didn’t seem like much of a threat. After climbing on the back of the bike, I calculated how many steps it would take me to reach my knife and tried not to envision him turning down some weird back road. After a couple of minutes, we came into traffic. He took the opportunity to ask me if I would go home with him. NOT! I politely declined and climbed off the back of the bike. There was a bus passing between Medellín and Bogotá behind him. I gave the driver pleading puppy dog eyes to open the door as the motorcyclist told me he would still take me to my destination. I still decided to pass on the offer. Upon entering the bus, I charmed the driver with stories of how Colombia was my favorite country, and entertained him with my story of the perverted driver, and he agreed to drop me off a few minutes down the road, without charging me.

I have always been impressed by people who have the balls to hitchhike and always wanted to try it, but have always been way too scared. Even though my first experience was hardly amazing, I lived to tell the tale!

Side note: even after the inappropriate question was posed by the anonymous guy on the motorcycle, I hardly felt in danger. It seemed to be more of a lame-ass attempt to get me into bed as opposed to a prelude to murder.

Shout-outs to: My flip-flops. I paid $3 for them in January. They’ve walked me through 7 countries over 6 months and are still going strong (except when it rains). And to the angelic bus driver who opened the door for me – muchas gracias! Lastly, to the perve – thanks for giving me a story for my blog :)

  • Shawna

    Haha – nice entry. Be careful!!! I’ve also wondered how I can have the cheapest flip flops on the planet last months and miles and my most expensive shoes don’t hold up for crap!

  • I really enjoyed this post!

    Mainly because it’s always interesting for me to “get into the mind” of fellow travelers.

    It’s a much better read when the author tells us what they’re thinking and feeling, especially in situations like this!

    Hope to see more like this…..(not hitchhiking, though, come on gal you don’t want to temp fate too much!)

  • So how far did you actually walk that day? 16k, 17k??? In flip-flops you might just be the next GI Jane!!! Do you always travel alone in Colombia? Hats off to you if you do! I have hitchhiked in Ecuador, Malaysia (my article on it here: http://www.foggodyssey.com/2009/06/25/hitchhiking-in-malaysia/), Bali, Thailand and Colombia (which we did with a 5 month old baby, long story on that)… and all times i have tried to pay and they all refused. Love traveling for that aspect!

  • EEK! That is a long walk! I can’t imagine doing that in flip flops! Glad you made it out of your first hitch hiking experience alive.

  • Yeah me too! Next time I’ll have to choose more solid footwear :)