1) If there was one thing that frustrated us the most during the long periods of standing in a lay by, waiting for someone to stop for us; the gestures and expressions of the drivers that drove passed consistently confused us and it was only after many hours of seeing these signals and trying to interpret them that we think we eventually figured out what most of them mean.
The shrug: “I simply can’t be arsed to pick you up, I have no valid excuse and feel slightly guilty about not helping you. Perhaps also you are in a particularly crap place with nowhere suitable for me to pull over.”
The finger wag: “I would never pick you up because I wrongly believe that hitchhiking is illegal, or that you look like serial killing rapists.”
Pointing in another direction: “I’m not going the way you want.”
Palm upward, pinching all four fingers against thumb: “I have a full car already.”
Look of traumatic disbelief: “I’m a miserable old bag that finds what you’re doing to be stupid and inappropriate. Young people out enjoying the world; honestly, they should be living a tedious life like I have done!”
Thumbs out: “I’m a dick taking the piss out of you and even if I did stop for you, which I absolutely won’t, you would be incapable of tolerating my company anyway.”
Complete ignorance: “I am most likely driving a BMW or similarly prestigious car and you are beneath me. I wouldn’t make eye contact or stop for you even to avoid running you over... well, maybe, but only because you would get blood on my bonnet and I’ve only just had it buffed with hot wax. You look like a poor person and mean less than nothing to me, just like speed limits and red traffic lights.”
2) When it is time for you to cross the English Channel or the Gibraltar Strait, remember: all of the staff aboard the ferry hate you. If you’re wearing your LCD Hitch T-shirt, they will be contemptuous of you the very second they lay eyes on you. Think about it. Every year, about a thousand of you cretins cross their path and far too many hitchers before you have asked for free tickets, tried to blag other free stuff, been unaware of proper procedures, asked for favours such as announcing over the PA that you need a lift from a passenger (like we did) and they are not cool with any of it and the excuse "But it's for charity!" just doesn't fly. They have a menial, easy job and they want to avoid making it any more taxing for themselves at all costs and won’t mind being incredibly derisive or rude to you.
3) You may have considered using internet cafés along your trip. What you probably won’t have considered is that in France, Spain and Morocco, they use a ridiculous alternative keyboard with the AZERTY layout instead of the QWERTY layout that you are used to. Basically, just assume that if you need to send a message to someone, it will take three times as long to type it, because you need to keep searching for a missing letter, or get confused about why the exclamation mark has a key all to itself, but the widely used full stop requires you to jab “shift” and “semicolon” together and the “@” symbol requires “shift”, “alt” and “0” all together, or some such shit.
4) Another horrible thing you may not be prepared for. In spite of the fact France is a wealthy, westernised, first world country; their toilet facilities are not. All three of the foreign countries you’ll be hitching through will require you to squat over a hole in the ground in a way that feels humiliating even though no one is watching. At least in France and Spain they have toilet paper. In Morocco, you need to either bring your own, or use your hand like the locals. Most hotels and hostels will still have the good ol’ westernised “throne toilets”, though. Another pointer in Morocco involves mandatory tipping of someone standing at the entrance to the loos. If you leave the toilet at a fast pace and don’t make eye contact with them, you’ll probably get away with not paying, but if they do corner you, only give to someone that actually looks like a cleaner, because I was convinced half of the “toilet attendants” I saw were probably just some guy that realised it was a good way to make money for nothing.
|Nat and I enjoying some "free" mint tea.|
The most common scam you may encounter: If anyone implies that you’ll be shunned in certain parts of the country unless you are wearing traditional Moroccan clothing, you should be instantly sceptical. You can get away with wearing the same clothing you do in England, with perhaps the exception of a bikini, in all but the most rural, conservative areas. Even then, just wear longer, baggier clothing and you’ll be fine. If you do plan on buying some Moroccan clothes anyway, buy them from a shop, not these con artists who will try and charge huge amounts from you. Remember that even the highest quality Moroccan robes should cost you no more than 200 Dirham.
6) Lastly, when you get to Morocco, you may have left little time for yourself to enjoy the place. We saved some time and money by using night coaches to travel between the cities we wanted to see, instead of travelling during the day and paying to sleep in hostels. Just remember that none of the coaches have toilets on board, so be sure to go before you leave to avoid embarrassing situations. You should also bear in mind, the duration of the excursions that you may want to go on when you get to Marrakesh, particularly the trips into the desert, which usually are at least two full days due to the driving time to get you out there and back. Trips to see the waterfalls and valleys in the Atlas Mountains take one full day.
So there we have it. Armed with this knowledge, your Hitch should be less frustrating than ours. I wish all future hitchers the absolute best of luck. Also I wanted to mention, thanks to the donations of £5 from Mr Isaac Ray and £32 from Baa, Sharda, Dilip and Aan of the Davé family, while I was off on my Hitch, I've now raised a tremendous £555.37 for Link Community Development. I'd like to thank you guys for your generosity. Anyone that would still like to donate to this very worthy cause can still click here to do so.