Over the last few days I keep seeing hitch-hikers.
It’s like when you buy a red umbrella, the first
you’ve ever seen in your life, and then everyday
for the next week you see them everywhere. Or
when you think you might be pregnant and then
everywhere you look you see women waddling by with
a huge tummy and that excited expectant look!
So, everywhere I look I keep seeing hitch-hikers,
I know it?s the height of summer and everyone is
travelling but it has stirred in me something
I look at the young, handsome, bright-eyed and
bushy-tailed travelers and I can’t help but feel a
warm, mushy, longing feeling, actually this is the
mild description. This evening as I drove to a
meeting in the dusk, I felt an intense longing to
be that young and handsome again, to be care-free
with a backpack on my back and my thumb out
waiting for the ride that will take me wherever I
decide to go at that very moment!
Lucy and I arrived at the station in Sienna just
in time to catch the train to Venice. We were
very excited, even though we had been travelling
for several weeks Venice was the place that we had
been aiming for, for quite some time. And the
film festival was just about to start. The train
ran through the night and we arrived in Venice
station at some ungodly hour. It was too late to
find a hostel and too early to start touring so we
looked around the station until we found a waiting
room that we might be lucky enough to catch a few
undisturbed hours of sleep. There was one such
room that was strangely empty; we walked in,
grabbed a row of chairs each and both of us curled
over our backpacks and fell fast asleep.
Several hours later I awoke to the sound of a man
clearing his throat. I opened my eyes and had to
double-take. The man sitting across from me (the
throat clearer) winked at me. He was tall and
blonde, probably in his seventies and wearing a
huge cowboy hat; his suit was bright purple with a
pink stripey shirt and I noticed his hands were
perfectly manicured. The woman sitting next to
him wore a mink coat from head to foot and I
suspected that she wore not much underneath it.
She was in her thirties I reckoned and her hand
that draped over the gentleman?s purple sleeve was
dripping in diamonds and shocking red nails. She
looked bored and stifled a yawn. I looked around
the waiting room to see others in similar garb.
“Luce, Luce wake-up”. I shook her a bit more
violently than I had intended, she nearly fell of
“What is it? Where are we”, she asked.
“I dunno”, I whispered, “just check out these people”.
We smiled and quietly grabbed our things and
walked towards the exit. There we found the red
carpet and realized that we had stumbled into the
waiting room of the Orient Express. It was about
to leave on its latest adventure.
We were not invited to join them. However, we did
manage to get a few hours of much needed sleep!
For me, travelling with a backpack, an eye for
adventure and an ear for a story is what life is
all about. You get to meet unexpected people,
hear amazing tales and experience things you never
dreamed of. Every sandwich becomes a feast, every
friendly gesture fills you with gratitude and a
sense of safety and well-being. The beauty of
what awaits you stuns you into silence, joy and
appreciation. It’s always better than you
But it doesn’t just have to be when you’re young
and travelling the world with a backpack. These
sights and sounds, people and stories, gestures of
good will and friendship are all around us.
Usually we’re too busy to notice, our schedule
doesn’t allow us the time to sit in a town square
and watch the people. Our kids are too demanding
to let us just drink another cup of coffee and
chat with a stranger.
But who’s to say we can’t just stop and do it anyway.
So, this week, I have decided to do just that.
Imagine that I’m on the road again, that I don’t
have to drive someone somewhere, pick up this and
that and make the deadline. This week I will have
my virtual backpack there and ready so that I can
notice the beauty all around me and take that
extra moment to be thankful for my blessings. Why
don’t you try it too!