A night I will not soon forget....

Trip Start Mar 30, 2010
Trip End Dec 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
on the side of the highway

Flag of Germany  , Lower Saxony,
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When I was leaving Rotterdam, my next stop was to be with my nanny Ester and her daughther Katharina.  I had arranged a rideshare to get me to Bremen area which was close to where Este .  This was a little on the awkward side because the fellow I had made the arrangements with spoke only german.  Through several broken sms, and the help of google translate, I found the metro stop that I was supposed to meet him at.  For the life of me, I can't remember the mans name, but he was a nice enough fellow offering me coffee as we waited for another person that was going to be riding with us.  He was going to be traveling to Hamburg, but since Bremen was on the way,  I agreed to pay the whole amount he was asking for the full ride, so he had no problem dropping me off halfway.    With some hand gestures and a lot of acting, he understood where I wanted to go.....or so I thought.  To me, the funniest part, was that even though he could clearly see I didn't speak a word of German, he kept talking to me like I knew every word he said.  He said that he would drop me off at the Bremen airport, which I am assuming is close to the highway for convience for him.  I said that was perfect.  When I consulted with Ester, she suggested that I should be dropped off in a small suburb of Bremen called "Brinkum", maybe only 4 kms from town.  Becuase trying to explain this to the man was literally futile, he just handed me his GPS and told me to input my destination.  I typed in Brinkum and off we went.     I had estimated that it would have taken roughly 5 hours in the car.  So as we were coming up on the 5 hour mark, I sent Ester a sms telling her that I would be arriving shortly.  I could also see on the gps that the ETA was less than 30 mins.  We pulled off the autobahn, onto a snow covered small highway.  Just as we got off the highway, I saw a sign saying "Bremen 100kms".  I had some small gut feeling that something wasn't right, but what the hell did I know.  I was just going to Brinkum.  Since I had never been there before, I had no idea if we were where I was supposed to be.  Then sure enough...there was the sign....Brinkum.  The man pulled off the main road to drive through this extremely small town.  There wasn't even so much as a store, gas station....literally...nothing!  Just a small collection of houses.  After we got to the other side of town and realized that there was no where for me to stay, I told him to just leave me at the little factory parking lot on the edge of town.  I strictly remember talking with the other passenger who spoke english, a girl from Portugal and saying " I really hope there is just one Brinkum in Germany" as a joke.  It was about 8 pm, the sun was down, but the snow too was also coming down....quite hard as a matter of fact.  I lugged my big backpack out of the car and said my thank you's, and started to make my phone call to Ester.  It was great to hear her again.  I told her that I had arrived in Brinkum and that I was staring at a sign that said Leer 8 kms away.  Right away, I could hear a sense of confusion in her voice.  "NO NO NO, That's not the right place at all!"  I was dropped off on the side of the highway, over 100 kms from where I was supposed to be late in the evening.  Ahhhh shit.  Travel lesson 4376:  Always go with you gut feeling, if it doesn't feel right....it probably isnt!  I sent a quick sms to the man begging him to come back and pick me up.  I waited on the main corner hoping and praying he would come back.  5....10...15 mins went past.  This guy isn't coming back to get me.  And really...why would he.  He already had my 30 euro in his pocket, and I had just made him drive over 100 kms out of his way to put me in the wrong place.  No time to sit there and cry about it, if I did....I would freeze my ass off.   I saw some people outside the small factory like building, so Ester suggested I go and find a person and hand them the phone so that she could explain my situation and hopefully find some help.  Some older man was getting into his truck as he saw me approaching, I was trying to smile and look as friendly as possible.  I said hello and tried to hand him my phone, but he simply looked at me like I was a freak.  Why on earth are you handing me your phone he must have thought.  Finally he understood what I was trying to do and took it.  The only thing I got from the conversation between him and Ester was that I was Canadian.  He also seemed to laugh when the word Brinkum was mentioned.  Possibly because I was nowhere near my target destination.  He asked a couple of his co workers if anyone was heading in the direciton of Leer, and no one either was...or wanted too.  Now what?   It was 10 below zero, and the snow didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon.  Ester had told me to somehow get to Leer, where I would be able to take a train to meet here where she was.  I found a small bus shelter, and tried to read the schedule, but I couldn't tell if the times were when it was coming or going.  I decided to try and hitchike.  It worked in the middle of nowhere Zambia, so maybe it will work in Germany.  Well, now that I look back on things, it was a snowy dark night, some random guy standing on the side of the road, with a 4 foot backpack,  a big beard, wearing a green vest that looked like it could have been military issue, made me look like some kind of a terrorist.   Not helping my situation at the time was the fact that there was terrorist warnings through out Germany.  I must have looked just like some Al Queada freak.  Forget the hitchiking idea.  Ester told me it would take her over an hour in the horrible driving conditions to make it to Leer, so me and my great ideas.....decided lets just walk the 8 kms to Leer with this 27 kilo on my back in the snow.  I put some angry heavy music on my ipod trying to get fired up, made a few last minute sms' to friends to explain my crazy situation, and started walking down the side of the autobahn.    About 1.5 kms into my brilliant plan, my calves were on fire and burning from carrying all that weight, espcially through the snow.  However at this point, I felt like I had gone too far to turn back.  I only wish I could have just heard what people driving by were thinking as they saw me.  Finally I came to another small collection houses, where I saw an old man cleaning his driveway.  I looked at him and asked him which direction Leer was in, and he explained it in German, but I double checked what he meant by pointing in the general direction, and he simply nodded.  Atleast I was on track again.  But at this point, I had a new problem, my cellphone battery was dying fast in the cold.  When it rains...it pours.    Again, I didn't want to let this discourage me.  Then Ester sent me an sms saying that her phone too was running low on battery.  Then out of the blue, I got a phone call from some german accented man by the name of Dirk.  He was a friend of Esters who explained the whole situation to me and what I should do.  I found my way to an underpass of the highway.  He told me to tell him my location and he would call a cab to fetch me.  I looked around and saw a sign saying what I thought was the name of a town close by, with and arrow on it.  I messaged him back telling him, and I got a funny message back, because the word I messaged him, meant city centre.  But what city?!?!  I eventually found a road sign for a small cross road and Dirk ended up googling my exact location.  Jesus....I felt like I had a whole crew of people trying to help find me in the middle of germany lost.  Ester in her car, me on the ground, and Dirk at home on his computer.  After it was all sorted out, a taxi was sent to come and fetch me.  Dirk explained to me that I am going to tell the driver I need to go to the Hauptbahnhof, meaning train station in Leer.  I sat on the side of the road waiting for this taxi, just repeating this word over and over again trying to remember it.  Alas, the taxi driver showed up.  Thank god, my feet were frozen, I had been carrying the 27 kilo for over 3 hours, I was hungry, and just mentally drained from the whole experience.  Even after all my work trying to remember the german word for train station, the driver gets out of the cab and says in perfect english...."Are you the lost Canadian??"  I guess in some weird way, I was mediocrely famous.  I was just happy to be in the back of the warm car. The taxi driver and I spoke a bit as we made our way to the train station.   But as I thought this story couldn't get any weirder, the taxi driver answered his cell phone, turned around and passed me the phone.  "It's for you!" he said.  Who the hell is calling me on the taxi drivers cell phone.  Funny enough, it was Dirk making sure that I had safely made it.  What a crazy adventure, and I still had not even connected with Ester yet.  I got dropped off at the train station, where I ended up having to wait for a few more mins for her to arrive.      I stood on the main corner of the parking lot trying to make myself as visible as possible.  I didn't want any more confusion added to this evening.  That is when I heard..."matthew!" .  I turned around....and there was Ester!  I gave her a huge hug as I finally felt like this whole ordeal was over.  We ended up jogging back to her car, or should I say bus.  Waiting around the corner was a huge VW camper van.  I thought it was awsome.  This was when she informed me that we had roughly a 3 hour drive to get back to her place because of the snow.  I felt like an ass for making her have to drive soooo far out her way to come and get me, but in true Ester style, she simply smiled and said it was no big deal.  The car ride back to Ahausen, the little town where she and Katharina lived, was actually very pleasant as it gave us lots of time to chat and get all caught up.  Unfortunately though, by the time we made it home, Katharina had gone to bed.  I don't blame her either, I would have given up after waiting for 6 some odd hours.   But she was sweet enough to leave us a nice note.   Thank you Ester for being my saviour on the snowy German night, Dirk for being the coordinator on the ground with the computer, Katharina for your nice note and waiting dinner, and Mr. Random Taxi man.  It was a wild adventure just getting to the two girls.  But I would soon find out....It was worth every challenging moment.   More to come from Ahausen.......There is no pics to go along with this entry, as pictures were the last thing on my mind as this whole ordeal was going on.  Sorry about any writting mishaps as well, its 4 am in Australia as I write this......
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Paulette on

Still love reading all about your crazy adventures :)

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