Let me take you on a journey. It’s a dark wet night, you know the sort, one where the world clearly wants to rain but can’t quite work it out. All is damp as my friends and I finally arrive in Portsmouth; we have reached the south coast a vital component of our overall aim, to head down. Already prepared we have our signs: Sud, as France and Spain stand between ourselves and, the final target, Morocco. There’s a plane booked from Marrakesh to home in a fortnight, and we have no intention of missing it. So as we pull in to the harbour and thank our driver, we look out over the channel apprehensively. The three of us are carrying all that we’ll need on our backs: we have a tent, some sleeping bags, clothes, and food. One of us has very average French, although we can all manage an accent, and we have little to no Spanish; although I, thankfully, do posses a passable knowledge of map reading, I can just about say where Africa is. So… off we go onto our ferry, next stop France and then wherever the willing driver takes us. The only condition of our journey being that we don’t intend to pay for it; this is, in short, a hitch-hike to Morocco.
Following a damp cold crossing we arrive in stunning Normandy, my first time there. The weather isn’t the only change France offers, and we encounter more delight and sheer pleasantness than we could imagine in miserable Portsmouth. We have however made our first mistake, a potentially costly one; we didn’t get a lift off the ferry. The plan was to relax for the first ferry hour then start talking to other passengers in an attempt to coax someone into driving us a decent way through France. We didn’t quite get around to this. Instead we relaxed on the boat, took photos like giddy school girls on their first exchange, had a couple drinks and a long nap. We overslept and as a result became the last to leave the ferry. Darn, no chance of an easy lift. Nevertheless we had made it across our first sea, we have some distance to go but there’s clearly no way back now… well there is but it wouldn’t fulfil the obligations of South.
As term gains some momentum I’d recommend applying for a charity-travelling event, I won’t recommend any specific societies but I will say most new experiences are worth a shot. I’ve done a few of these kind of events and I can really say if you want cheap memorable travels then you can’t go wrong; and it certainly doesn’t hurt that your holiday is in the service of a good cause. When myself, and company, hitch-hiked to Morocco none of us had ever done such a thing before, and only two of us had ever been to Africa before. I’d certainly never dreamed of travelling in such an makeshift way. When we woke up every morning the plan was essentially mutable, for example, following our first landing we ended up setting up a big top with our adopted French parents near their derelict farm. Long story. Soon enough we were sleeping on a rooftop in Marrakesh and exploring the Atlas Mountains.
I’d be the first to say jumping in a car with a vague idea of destination and a lack of communication is somewhat uncomfortable. In fact I think I have said so. The excitement is very welcome though as it captures the notion of expedition. In a world almost fully discovered, where not knowing where you are going is rare, you get to feel like an explorer. It’s this mix of trepidation and enthusiasm that makes a trip worthwhile. If a journey feels comfortable and homely are you really going anywhere? Ok in a physical sense yes… but you know what I mean, it’s good to leave your comfort zone at home. Having said this I doubt I could ever have hitch-hiked solo, but good friends just amplified the fun. I can wholeheartedly recommend you grab some pals and raise some money (the charity bit) and personally fund an exceedingly cheap expedition.