During my South America trip, my main method of getting around the continent was hitchhiking.
Out of 300 days that I spent on this continent in total, 72 were days in which I did nothing else but hitchhiked. And with “hitchhiked” I mean actually standing on the side of the road and subjecting myself to scorns, horn blowing – and other people’s kindness. And people were kind to me, yes, they were.
In these 72 hitchhiking-only days across the continent, I was picked up 175 times. (I was actually hoping to reach 200, but got a few rides short.) I have been given drinks and sandwiches, bottles of water and whole lunches, in some odd cases even money, and very often, especially in Brazil, I have even been invited into other people’s homes to lunch with the driver’s whole family. Several times I was walking along the road or stopped to figure out how to cross an extremely difficult part of a highway when people pulled over for me without asking. Therefore I can say I have been truly lucky, during my trip, to meet some wonderful and kind-hearted people who have helped me reach my destinations. And I will always be thankful for it.
I was mainly getting the rides in the old fashioned way – with my thumb stuck out on the side of the road. Personally, I find it somehow intrusive to go and ask directly to drivers at the gas stations for a ride. I have done that too, of course, but I prefer when they themselves stop for me without me having to bother them.
I have been given lifts by fellow travellers, farmers, businessmen, policemen, scientists, teachers, doctors, paramedics, sales representatives, countless lorry drivers and many more – including an ex-convict and a man who used to be homeless.
I have written several short articles about all but two countries I have visited. The countries not listed here are Paraguay and Bolivia. Paraguay, because it was already covered in full in one of my previous posts, and Bolivia, because there I had only two rides and that is not enough to get a clear picture of the hitchhiking situation there.
In the posts below, I will tell you about all the good things others have done for me. I will, of course, tell you about other experiences too. For example, I will, for the very first time, reveal a very uncomfortable hitchhiking experience I had in Brazil. Not as unpleasant as getting robbed in Peru or almost drowned in my own tent in Argentina, but still.
Click on the images below to find out more about each country!