Flash-forwards to 2054: I squint down the road. Is that a car? They’re getting rarer and rarer. Most people have upgraded to anti-grav ships or jet-packs, these days. Yes, it’s a car. I lift my thumb a bit higher…
Marlene stares at me, wide eyed.
“You hitchhiked from Scotland?”
“Most of the way, yeah. All across Europe.”
“Aren’t you exhausted?”
“I could use a beer…”
I moved quickly, but only just quickly enough. I squatted in the humid toilet stall panting and thanking my good fortune to be in the railway station where public amenities are close by. I’d been lucky, but my confidence was shaken. India had been lulling me into a false sense of security. The game was on…
“Here’s the thing. Hitchhiking is… a complete shit show. Nothing ever goes to plan. Actually, scratch that, there is no plan. You set out, you keep moving and if you’re lucky you get somewhere, but hardly ever where you intended to be…”
“You want to see the Parthenon? I know the right way to do it; at the best cafe in the city!”
Maria is a very emphatic person. Greek-Australian. That’s emphasis x2…
Nicky waves his arms and yells something Bulgarian at the driver. The driver brakes. He doesn’t have a choice. Nicky is blocking the road. As soon as the van slows down, Nicky is at the side window, bellowing. The van accelerates and drives away down the motorway ramp…
Standing beside the road with a gun in my face is a bit of a Tintin moment… but not a good one. This is a moment from one of the darker, more political Tintin books, where the hero finds himself on the run behind the Iron Curtain…
“I ended up becoming friends with some sort of dodgy real estate gangster who worked next door. It’s a long story, but basically this guy took me 400 km to the next city, gave me a tour of all the sights, put me up in a luxury hotel…”
Luckily for me I’ve teamed up with a hitchhiking super star for my journey from Belgrade to Sofia. Also, I met a very cute stray doggie..!
I’ve only been in Serbia two hours and I’ve been threatened with arrest for having a conversation. I know I have a talent for getting myself into trouble but this is ridiculous…
“It was called Hungarian salami, but… Australian salami is not so good. We have all kinds of different ones but they all taste kind of the same.”
Pasti frowns and nods. “You must try some real Hungarian sausage…”
We sit in the park and have a picnic. I introduce her to my robots.
‘They look like smartphones to me’ Pia says.
‘They are robots’ I tell her. ‘They are very talented filmmakers and photographers…’