I would say Iceland is the country of so many things: water, volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, changing and unpredictable weather, skyr (something creamy very similar to yoghurt), vikings…and also a paradise for hitchhikers.
I can’t hold it anymore, I need to share it: literally, it will take you 15 minutes maximum to be picked up by a car. Literally. No more than 15 minutes of waiting. And that’s a lot. On average, it will take you between 2 and 5 minutes. Sometimes you don’t even need to show your thumb up, cars will stop and ask you if you need something because you are standing in the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes it is so little time of waiting that you would like to wait for a little bit longer just to enjoy the views, feel the paved ground under your feet and smellvthe adventure of being alone and without many possessions, just you and your bag. It kinda makes you feel a little bit vulnerable, sometimes you totally depend on others to “survive”. And here in Iceland it is like this most of the times. You get a lift but then the car drops you off in a very isolated place, where the nearest town or “building” (farm, guesthouse…) can be 20km away. It is when you look around you, to the horizon, and you see nothing, just nature, nature and more nature.
When I used to hitchhike around Europe I did it mainly in the gas stations, where I could talk to people, they could see me properly and they had more time to think and react, but here in Iceland this doesn’t work, or at least when you are far from the capital, instead you need to widely open to the goodness of others and trust people and life a lot to be picked up. I haven’t hitchhiked all around the island, only in my area, the west part, and around the capital, Reykjavik, which is 180 km to the south. The first time I did it was in a rainy day and I was wearing a waterproof jacket and jeans, but I was all wet. I thought it would be difficult because I was standing in a roundabout near the capital and maybe there people don’t care that much and they didn’t want their car to be wet, but it wasn’t like that at all. I think the rain helped me to be picked up because peple felt sorry for me and my friend standing out there under the rain, or at least is what most of them told us once in their cars. A lot of local people have picked me up, but also people from different nationalities that are travelling around the country. Maybe it is because of this that they are so open and look so alive! The excitement of travelling with a friend or alone and drive through desertic roads, turn around that curve and see one girl smiling and standing out there with her thumb up.
Picking up a hitchhiker can make your trip more interesting, it can be the sparkle of that ride in a place like this. More or less the same conversations with each driver, more or less superficial, but the rides are not long enough to go deeper. Sometimes I wish the rides were so much longer because of the amazing people they are, but I guess I don’t have time to go far enough. Also, it helps you to practice the art of letting go: someone stops the car just to pick you up, without knowing you, without asking for anything in return, they do it just because they want and are not afraid, we all share some words, ask each other questions, share the same feelings and thoughts about tavelling around Iceland and get off. The car stops, I get off and the car leaves. And I know I won’t see that person anymore, even though I shared 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes with them in such an intimate place like a car, talking and getting to know each other. And maybe in one day it can happen 2, 3, 4 or 5 times. And afterwards, I wish I had asked that person for the facebook or something. But it is always too late, and I guess it has to be like this. However, I do not always have to let that person go so easily, sometimes the conversation in the car gets to the point of giving and receiving and that driver that picked me up needs a place to sleep the next day, so how easy it sounds when I offer him a roof and a meal in the guesthouse I am working. And how well that night goes! We can only smile at how crazy is life when you are open to it and how many things it has to give us. How many amazing people we can meet on our way, or in the middle of the road! It is so easy to connect with people when both of you are open and feel so alive and share a lot of things that you have in common! People that come to Iceland have some sensitiveness and spirit that makes it very different from other countries of the world.
I have been in 25-30 cars so far in this month and a half in the country and a lot of different experiences have happened. Couples, American Happy campers, a group of ladies from a yoga retreat, solo drivers, locals, farm workers, travellers from different parts of thw world, people that has moved to Iceland to start a new life, a bunch of crazy stories behind of them! The energy that I feel when I get on in every car is different every time and it is interesting trying to adapt to that atmosphere. Sometimes I don’t even know the relationship between the two people of the car, and I start to figure it out in my head while I get to know each other more and more. It is like an opportunity to share the present moment with someone, not caring about their past, nor about the future, just now. Different stories all the time, but I get more or less the same impression from the people concerning the country: they look so calm, so open, so chill, so peaceful, so confident. And I feel so grateful for all of them, they have made my “short free time-trips” possible! Just want to get further and further…And make the net bigger. The net that proves that we are all connected. The net that proves that good people is all around.