Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hitching in Northern Argentina

You never know what you're going to get with hitchhiking. Normally it will be a good story. This past experience was the longest trip yet for me, as it lasted more than one day and had me sleeping inside the semi truck on top of hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. More than 6 pallets of packages for me to sleep on, covered by the canvas tarp. Definitely a first for me. I normally couch surf, and this was similar in that it was provided by a stranger turned friend, and yet oh so different in that there was no couch. That had been replaced by the aforementioned toilet paper.

I'd been trying to travel from Córdoba Argentina to the northern city of Salta. After waiting just 12 minutes by the highway on ramp,  I was offered a ride north to Tucuman, some 8 hours north and a good option to go a long distance,even though it was a few hours shy of Salta. Ramon was the truck driver who picked me up for company along the long drive. Nice guy at a similar age who talked fast in Castellano Spanish with a tricky accent. I had to focus hard and attempt to use the Spanish I learned in high school to keep up with the conversation. Beer and movies were the highlights of the conversation. Pretty much when your hitching with a trucker who loves Rambo, you know you've hit the jackpot.

The journey took about the same time as a bus would've as trucks are limited to only 80km/hr and Ramon stuck by it. Each time we passed through a new province there was a police checkpoint. And only 1 time did Ramon get made to pay a bribe. Still lots of corruption in this country and the police are on top of it.

Turns out hitching with truckers doesn't leave you in the center of town. Not the best options for places to stay and the highway area was pretty shady. So I had the option to sleep on top of the merchandise,  which was the safer and more entertaining option by far.

In the morning, after the trucks were unloaded,  I scored a ride north with an awesome 70 year old man. More comfortable and a lot faster than the truck. We made good time and I got an inside look at how some argentinans are biased against people of darker skin and from the north. Me looking like a foreigner defintely helped me get the ride. 

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