Five tacos for a Hallelujah, afterwards straight to bed. I sleep under a pigeon tree. I am covered in shit in the morning. Thanks you fuckers.
The first ride took some persuading. The truck driver didn’t really want to. His co-driver was standing at the taco shop with his mum. I bummed them for a cigarette. They added a croissant. They even asked the trucker once again if he wasn’t going to give me a lift and so he accepted. Mum continued feeding me with corn puree and meat stuffed leaves.
Two sloppy Mexican worker. They feed me egg-salad-sandwich. One of them likes me so much that he takes a picture of me and hugs me several times. A lot of love is in the air that day.
A very special encounter. A guy approaches me, looking as if he was headed to go bowling. Violet shirt and besides a pair of shoes nothing on him. I figure that he is from Honduras and tries to get into the US without a passport. To his brothers place, in Houston. How he was going to cross the border? Well, swimming of course. Tough shit. It seemed that it wasn’t the first time for him. He buys something to drink for me and our first driver. I have a bad conscience and give him my map in return. We have the same path in front of us but we separate soon since he has no papers and I don’t want to be stuck in a police check. Costs so much time.
I won’t see him again. Looks like he did catch a ride before me. Pity. I wanted to get to know him a little better. Good bye, illegal immigrant.
The next driver takes me until somewhere in the middle of nowhere, close to the highway towards the border. Midday sun was chilling in the sky. Hitchhiking was slow since Monterrey. I‘ve decided to play the being-miserable-card and started to walk along the highway in the sun’s heat. Cars and trucks rush past me. It’s very hot and I wonder if that was a good idea.
Grandma, grandpa and grandchild stop. Why I was alone out here in the heat and that they can’t leave me like that. I have to drink water and eat a sandwich.
Border. I have to pay 26$ to exit Mexico. What the hell? Here I find out that my 100 Dollars are gone, the one that I had packed for emergency. My driver lends me the money. I have no chance to give it back to him. But he doesn’t even want it back and continues straight after a “decent” check while I am stuck at the border for about 3 hours. The US administration takes its time.
Again they completely dismantle my backpack like in Panama and here they have a drug dog in addition. Luckily I had lost the small piece of hashish that I was carrying since Uruguay, saved for a special occasion. Would have been a birthday present. (It took me a month to find out I hadn’t lost it when I accidentally found it again. It was hidden so well, that neither me not the dogs nor the other personal searching my backpack had found it. Well done, Stefan!).
A Mexican who didn’t give me a ride but a melon instead. Now I have a ride to the city boundary of Laredo. He is a bus driver and offers me a hotel room, several times. It takes me a moment (as always) until I figure out, that he’s gay and wants to share that room for some dirty stuff (and that I wouldn’t have to pay). I decline. A friendly goodbye and I continue.
I’m on a gas station. Strange things happen in the USA. Firstly one of the security guards comes over. He looks like a Star Trek fan, rather fat and with glasses. He tells me that there is a homeless shelter in the city. Thanks for the hint. He was good spirited, trying to interpret reality within his range of memories and experiences.
One hour later. He is back, rather his colleague comes bringing him. His colleague was more like the Texas Cowboy guy. “Law and Order”, a tiny statue, disgruntled and with a formidable schnauzer for which I envied him. Obviously he didn’t like hitchhikers. We had one of the most epic conversation, one that you can really only have in ‘murica.
“Sir, you can´t ask all the people here. They will come and complain.”
“Well, did anyone complain so far?”
“No, but what you do is wrong.”
OK. Sure, end of conversation, no need for further discussion.
After I left the gas station I am in a hopeless position holding my honey melon. Amidst the darkness. A cargo train passes. Train Hopping? Well, wrong direction. But suddenly a pick-up stops. Mexican. What else. He can bring me 70 miles close to my goal and I am allowed to ride the loading platform. Others didn’t want to take me on the loading platform since we are going to pass a big immigration check and it is clearly forbidden to ride on the back of the pick-up. Well, millions of stars above me, pick-up … and I am so bad at saying no to an offered ride.
Immigration checkpoint. I try to play sleeping and hide, not working so well under the light of around 100 spotlights that beam down on me. Police approaches. “You are the rider?” “What?” “You are the rider?” “Yes, I am the hitchhiker!” Isn’t Ryder a candy bar?
Then, the one and most important question: “Are you US citizen?” Inside I was nearly rofling. That question is the opening to an amazing video about human rights. It’s about the these illegal checks and very amusing. The only right answer to that question is “I am not answering this question. Am I being detained?” but I wasn’t on confrontation course, handed them my passport and both were very friendly. In the beginning one of them was like “That is that guy” but in the end they figured they had mistake me for someone else. They congratulated me on my ride on the pick-up since usually nobody here stops for hitchhikers.
I slept next to a fence on the gas station that night. In the morning a car passed by and stopped: “Are you homeless?” the driver asked, sounding like Marge Simpson. I had to laugh. “No, I´m just hitchhiking.” “Oh, I bought you breakfast.” Okay…
First ride, nice guy. Finally able to talk in English. I am offered more food but I already had a McDonald’s breakfast.
A talkative woman gives me a ride. She says that her husband asks her to not take hitchhikers. “But I hitchhiked in the seventies myself, back and forth through all the country and somebody has to stop for you.” Classic. We befriend us on Facebook.
Standing besides the street, in my hand a bottle. A car stops and gives me a sign with a bag. “Here, I bought some water for you. It’s too hot outside.” Wow. That’s America. Food and drinks on mass, more than I can consume. If I could come with the car? No, sorry.
Well, I got two bottles of water now that I don’t need.
Gas station. A friendly and pretty woman in her thirties with two kids. In the beginning she didn’t want to give me a ride but I had a feeling so I just stood there tactically leaning back. They filled up gas and I went back to my position. Shortly before they started they beckoned me to the car. She said: “And then I saw that you are carrying a watermelon. And I thought, you can’t be dangerous”. The spirit of the Mexican that wanted to give me a ride but had no space was with me. Thanks.
Last ride to Austin. A guy who earns his money with drug dealing, well suited. I see a homeless person with a nice base-cap and think aloud. ”I could use a hat.” My driver is instantly pushed. “Really? Man, come on, I’ll get you one!!” We drive to the next head shop and I am free to choose a base-cap. They all looked (sorry about that) like shit. Stoner hats. I don’t want to be seen with that on the street. But well, didn’t want to hurt his feelings either and took the least shitty one. At the cashier’s desk I was shocked. 48$. You really wanna buy me that? He was completely fine with it.
I had arrived to Austin, Texas. I hitchhiked from Germany to the USA.