I will never forget Daryn, the guy who picked me up as I walked the road beside Loch Ness and gave me a ride all the way back to Inverness. I hadn’t been a person who really had hitchhiked before. It takes a lot of trust to hitch a ride, and it takes a lot of trust to give a ride. So far, I’ve been really lucky with the people who have chosen to help me out.
Right now, I have a car. And, as I was driving from Warth to Innsbruck, I passed through a town called Ruette. As I was following the directions of my pushy GPS, I noticed a woman with a backpack standing on the side of the road with her thumb extended. So, I pulled over and asked her where she was headed. She said Innsbruck, so I told her to hop in.
And that is how I met Noemie.
Here is the first thing she told me.
“I’m heading for the Black Sea.”
Now, I was a little surprised at this because that’s quite a journey.
Noemie is 23 years old and is from a little place in the country outside of Paris. But she’s been traveling for the past five years.
At her young age, she’s been to Scotland, England, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, and all across Europe. Her primary mode of transportation is hitchhiking. She also is big into couchsurfing.
By the way, when she was listing the places that she’s been, she said, “I haven’t been to many places.”
She loves Russia. Out of everywhere she had been, that was the place that she spoke about the most.
“It;’s amazing. The people are so friendly there. Everyone should go!”
She’s even been to Murmansk in Russia, which is near the arctic circle.
She grew up on a goat farm. She told me about how she used to wander through the countryside with her labrador, Prune, which she affectionately called Prunette.
“I won’t eat goat because I grew up with them, but the best meat I ever ate was reindeer in Russia.”
She said that she’s also had horses, which apparently is not uncommon in France or in Russia.
Noemie is full of stories about her adventures and the people she’s met. She told me that she only had one bad couchsurfing experience and that more often than not she’s met friendly and generous people all over the world.
I enjoyed our drive from Ruette to Innsbruck, so I suggested that we continue on to Vienna together. She stayed the night with someone she met through CS, while I stayed in hostel. She’s already got a host lined up for Vienna. In Salzburg, we stayed in the same hostel.
I asked her how long she plans to keep going like this. She said that she would like to keep traveling for at least five more years. Her goal now is to spend some time in Georgia, where she can work on her Russian. Then she’ll travel through China. She plans to fly back to France from Vietnam.
She knows that she will be able to get a high paying job in Switzerland if she is reasonably fluent in English, French, and Russian. (That’s how she funds her trips. She’ll work for a few months or half a year and save.)
I’ve been traveling since mid January, and I’m 43. This young woman is the real deal when it comes to traversing the globe.
I’m glad that I offered her a ride and got to know her a little. Her fearless faith in people is really an amazing thing.
Until my next post, keep looking to the heavens and seeking your own star.