Hitching from Helsinki

Trip Start Jul 19, 2010
Trip End Aug 10, 2010

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Where I stayed
service station

Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Sunday, August 15, 2010

The funny thing was that I didn't really care or even mind about the wallet that much. I knew that I wouldn’t need money once I arrived and now would be in for the authentic experience all the way. I also knew that I could not be in better company. Becky and Rifkah were well used to living without money. Being in their hands suddenly made me feel quite stupid for any condescending thoughts I had had at Oslo airport when they were thinking about eating other people’s left-overs and other ways to get food. I had lent them a bit of money and now I was very glad for this.

With no bargaining power in the decision about how we would travel, hitchhiking four hundred kilometers it was going to be. We took a bus and tram to the outskirts of Helsinki and set ourselves up on the number four road north. Four hours later we were in the same spot! Any suggestion about buses or trains was met with a stern negative response. 'We have to think positive to attract what we need’ said Becky. I sat by the bags with Poppy who just played intently with her video game when suddenly they came running over. ‘Grab your bags!’ said Becky, ‘We’ve got a lift!’

It was a clapped out old red estate that smelt like someone had been smoking the dust which oozed from the seats. The driver - a slightly scruffy looking long haired guy in his 20’s - spoke hardly any English but it soon became apparent that he could not take us very far. We had already decided not to take lifts for a short distance as it would then be harder to hitch from the motorway. ‘Why are we in this car?’ I asked ‘we could be stranded for hours!’ ‘It was getting too stagnant before’ replied Becky, ‘I felt like this would get our energies flowing’. Its amazingly difficult to argue against this kind of logic so I just kept quiet. Our driver pulled over in a lay by where we got out.

There were a few trucks pulled up and some gypsies were huddled around a fire. Becky and Rifkah stared chatting with one of the men and Rifkah’s Portuguese came into its own. We took his advice and started to head for motorway just before the entrance to the lay by. Raquel started to have a go at me - ‘you’ve got to keep your wits about you with gypsies’ she said as we walked away ‘What did I do wrong?’ I asked. ‘You took out your camera.’

I took the bags to a nearby tree whilst the girls waved for a lift. It was 10 or 11pm and the sun was finally beginning to set.  Eventually a police van pulled up. It was illegal to hitch from the motorway. Were things about to get worse? A lot of pensive talking went on between the policemen - the girls were actually asking them for a lift! They waved me over. Somehow they had convinced the policemen to take us to the next service station.

A few hours after touching down we were seeing the back of a Finnish police van.  Perhaps there was something in this hitchhiking malarkey after all. We were seeing things a paying tourist would not dream of. But could we be sure these policemen were not corrupt or something? (Never mind the gypsies) We would find out soon enough.
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