Finally came the most feared part of the whole trip: Spain.
Known for being so difficult in the art of offering rides and receiving people for free, I was willing to face that challenge.
Jean-marc, my host in Bayonne, took me to the roundabout where the cars were supposed to pass to take the road, and upon arriving I saw two more hitchhikers. Two Frenchmen, one with a funny hat and beard to do, and Simon from Clermont-Ferrand, who would go to the same direction as me.
One of the rules of the road says that you must wait for the success of those who arrived first to stretch your thumb. I waited a little apart so as not to disturb, as they might think we were together, but a few minutes later he approached and asked where I would go. Talk comes and goes, and we decide to try it together.
1 hour and nothing, the other French had already left, a couple arrived and got something in less than 5 minutes.
Was it the problem with us? I had even shaved. We changed the writing on the board, instead of Spain, we tried only the next town and so a young French father with his son took us a few kilometers ahead, until the next toll. A few moments later, a Colombian woman led us to the border, which we crossed on foot.
Welcome to Spain!
Already at the entrance we are approached by a police officer not very friendly, vociferating in Spanish that we could not do it there, we should try it further.
Incredible how my fluency in Portuñol helps me through these bands.
A short time passed until two Spaniards returning from a walk in the mountains stopped and guided us to San Sebastian. First ride with Spaniards!
As we had time and until the moment it was working well, we decided to know the coastal city, the den of many tourists and a beautiful architecture.
After this stop, it was time to continue the journey, because I had not gotten any accommodation at Couchsurfing in San Sebastian or Bilbao. I would probably have to put my tent in some wild bush.
An infinite wait and a certain repudiation in the Spaniards’ gaze as they watched us. Gentlemen and young people, no matter how old, the judgment was written on the retina of each of them. I felt angry, unwanted, like somebody dirty, a thug, and all I wanted was a good conversation, to follow in the same way of them and to offer a magnet or keychain of my city.
Nothing helped us, we were already considering an alternative plan. But camping in town is always tricky. What to do?
Hope was fading, until a car stopped and into it a smiling Pakistani. Unfortunately I do not remember his name, but I will never forget his goodness. Speaking Spanish, I discovered that he worked for a reform company and was returning to Bilbao, where he lived for 10 years. I asked where we could put our tent in a discrete way, but he did not know. The moment required a quick action. Stay in some village before, or try to move on?
Realizing our indecision, our new friend surprised and offered us shelter for the night. He lived with his cousins and two of them were traveling, so we could stay on their beds for tonight. Not only that, he wanted to prepare a dinner for his guests and forbade us to help, either by cutting the food or cleaning the dirt.
In the evening, Yasir, one of his cousins, took us to see the festival that moved the city: Semana Grande. With different tents, musical styles, drinks and commerce, the event agitated Bilbao for 7 days.
Not satisfied with all the goodness, they still offered us stay for more days, fruits from Yasir’s shop, coffee and sincere smiles, but the next day we needed to move on.
Long live Pakistan, I mean, long live Spain!