When did you get the idea of hitchhiking around the world?
Even when I was a little kid of 8 or 9 years I’d be looking at maps and telling my parents it was my dream to see the world some day. Of course, nobody believed me, until I was 17 and started hitchhiking around Europe.
How do you find the people giving you rides?
I usually approach people in gas stations, tell them what I’m doing and ask them for a ride. That way I get to pick the people, which reduces the risk of running into unpleasant situations. I’ve had people hiding coke in their trunk or rushing along at 240km/hour, so you want to double-check whose car you’re getting into.
What was your (least) favorite country so far?
That’s hard to say, because I’ve experienced so many extraordinary things. But if I had to pick a favorite country I think it would be Brazil or Peru. In the USA my transportation system worked the worst—people were afraid to pick me up, or they were just caught up in selfishness: “I have to go now, and I don’t care whether this guy is still standing there tomorrow.” That was kind of sobering.
Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?
No. Although I’ve encountered some pretty dangerous situations: In Colombia I had to cross guerilla-infested “red zones,” and in Africa I had to go to jail for a night because I had entered a port without proper authorization.
What do you think is the biggest sacrifice you’re making?
Actually, I don’t really feel like I’m sacrificing anything. But of course I miss my family and friends, but that was a choice I made consciously, and I chose adventure over convenience.
One last question: Why?
I find my trip very rewarding: I get to exercise myself in patience (after all, I still have to be friendly after 100 people have refused me a ride), tolerance, diplomacy and resourcefulness, I get a much more positive outlook on life, and I’ve learned to adapt to virtually any situation. These are experiences no one can ever take from me.