One Man and his Dog. And Surfboard.
Trip Start May 19, 2009
67Trip End Ongoing
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At least by now my interview process was fine tuned, if a little robotic. And brutal. Here's a rundown:
1. How old are you?
Sure, it's laden with generalisations, but anyone who doesn't remember Kylie Minogue in dungarees or Boy George when he was thin, and in Culture Club rather than the Community Service Club, is bound to make me feel old
2. Are you German?
It's difficult to ask this one outright, but, nine times out of ten, I'm contacted by Germans. I'd had the good, the bad, and the ugly, and, nine times out of ten, they'd been miserable, moaning bastards who made me feel like a bad tour guide. And they liked techno music. Which leads me nicely on to...
3. What sort of music do you like?
If the answer is dance, you can book yourself on the Greyhound.
4. Are you in any kind of coital relationship with your travel partner?
On the one side, there are couples that live in a bubble of bliss and remain oblivious to their fellow travellers. On the other, there are monumental bust ups. I can't decide which is worse.
Generally, I find it best to have these conversations over a pint, which also allows me to establish whether my potential travel partners are dandy or dud drunks
If they pass these tests, there's only one more question:
5. Do you own a headtorch?
Within the space of a few days I'd been contacted by an Australian who called himself Harry Houdini but had a picture of a middle aged Japanese man as his Facebook Profile Picture. Denied. There was then the Canadian girl who'd been travelling for six years and "could tell I was a smoker" on the phone. Denied. Of course, the Germans followed. Denied. Denied. Denied.
Then, there was Jimmy, a free spirited, Australian, pot smoking hippy who I liked the sound of. To start with, he wanted to bring a dog. No problem. Then, he wanted to bring a swag, and, oh... a surfboard. Denied.
Frankly, I was exhausted.
But then, there was Jessina: 23, Finnish, and a travel buddy who'd never been on a road trip before
It started on the internet, and progressed to the phone, and soon we found ourselves in a beautiful relationship on the open road. It was, at least, symbiotic: I introduced Jess to the joys of free camping on the highway; and I learnt more about reindeer, elk, saunas, living in darkness and, er, threesomes, than I might ever need to know.
She did, though, have to buy a headtorch. I guess not everyone's perfect.
Over the ensuing days, the skies cleared. The air grew heavy with the dampness of humidity. And, for the first time in a long time, I stowed away the Ugg boots, and, like a campsite Cinderella, pulled my well worn flip flops out of retirement and back onto my pasty feet.