Hitchhiking in the Time of Corona

Last week, when the Corona crisis really hit, I was on the island of Pico, part of the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic. There are only two bus routes, each going twice a day, which was not enough. So I had to hitchhike, which I was looking forward to. On small islands, hitchhiking is usually very common and easy.

And indeed, the first car picked me up after waiting for less than a minute. It continued like that. Usually, the second or third car stopped, and the drivers often took me exactly to where I wanted to go, even if it meant a detour for them. “Oh, that’s included in the service,” several of them said, taking pride in the hospitality of the people on the Azores.

But then, the impact of the virus reached even the far-away archipelago. From day to day, it became harder. I had to wait longer and now, most cars were driving past, some drivers shaking their head sadly. Of course it din’t help that I look foreign to the Azores, so people associated me with the threat of the virus, both coming from the mainland. I guess it would have been much worse if I looked Asian.

Eventually, someone did always stop, even if I had to wait for 30 minutes. On the last day, it was really tough. My first ride was in a truck, where the cabin was so wide that I didn’t get close to the driver. The other helpful person was Nuno, the supervisor of a cleaning company. Thus, my last hitchhiking in the time of Corona was in a van full of disinfectants, face masks and paper towels.

I am curious to hear from other hitchhikers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s becoming much harder, if not impossible these days. But my experience on Pico also showed me one possibility that will always remain: When I wanted to cross the island from south to north, from Lajes to São Roque, an old couple in a pick-up truck stopped and, true to the name of their vehicle, picked me up, providing me with a scenic and fun ride.

I loved it! And yes, the guy was really going that fast.

Andreas Moser Pico hitchhiking pick-up (1)Andreas Moser Pico hitchhiking pick-up (2)

Somehow, this always seems to happen on islands. Hitherto, my only ride in the back of a pick-up truck was on Easter Island:

So, if you have a pick-up truck, please stop for hitchhikers!

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Azores, Health, Portugal, Travel, Video Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Hitchhiking in the Time of Corona

  1. Wow! What a beautiful place. And the weather looks like it was perfect! Thank you for sharing the video. I could almost feel the wind.

    • It was so chilly at times, I wanted to put on a sweater, but I needed one hand to film and the other one to desperately hold onto the car, or I would have fallen out.
      But it was great fun indeed!

  2. Pingback: Per Anhalter durch die Corona-Krise | Der reisende Reporter

  3. João Barros says:

    That’s the most genuine and local way to travel in the Azores. 🙂🐄

  4. Please travel responsibly and don’t hitchike if not strictly necessary. You’re not only putting your own health at risk but also the health of others!

    • If you really must travel and you don’t have your own vehicle then hitchhiking is actually the safest option.

    • Deng Deng says:

      Well, a lot of Italian has their own private car (solo or two is normal), yet they traveled around Europe and bring virus together. what says you.

    • Obviously, the best is not to travel at all. I said that when it is really necessary, it is the best to hitchhike. Imagine those Italians not driving their own cars but flying or taking busses. And another time: best is not to travel at all.
      I got stuck in a foreign country too and even though my country offers me to come home, I prefer to stay because it is still not *essential* travel.

    • I am doing the same as Dániel, staying put in the Azores instead of frantically trying to return to Germany, where I would go through plenty of airports and train stations.

  5. You’ve been smiling all the way or it was the wind making you look like that :-)

    • It was a dream!
      I was even happy that all the other cars before hadn’t stopped. Ok, maybe the emergency service would have been cool, too.
      And then the way all across the island, from coast to coast, going up 1000 meters and then coming down 1000 meters (with quite a change in temperature).

  6. I just hope once the crisis is over it will all be back to normal and drivers won’t distrust hitch-hikers even more!

  7. Depends where but yeah generally is much harder.

  8. Long distance hitchhiking is probably among the most dangerous things you could do in a rising pandemic, since you come into close and prolonged contact with multiple people. Such a hitchhiker could also become a vector, more dangerous because he may affect people going longer distances.

    • Absolutely!
      That’s why I have stopped traveling now, staying put on the island of Faial.
      Although you have to consider hitchhiking against the alternative of traveling on a bus or train for the same distance. Then, the closed space of the car maybe limits the number of people one comes in contact with.
      Of course it’s best to stay where one is and self-isolate.

      But in the back of the pick-up truck, as I did it, I think it’s really safe. (Unless another hitchhiker jumps into the same truck, maybe.)

    • If one has the choice now, it is best not to stay put in one place.

    • But why not? If it’s a safe, isolated place with few people, then I think it’s much more advisable to stay put rather than jump around from city to city.

    • Sorry, extra not.

  9. Son Andreas says:

    Stay safe in this weird times.

  10. Unless you are going straight home and have NO MONEY to do any other way. If thats not the case, you are reckless and this is borderline criminal, in times like these to promote hh.

    • I am in the back of a pick-up truck, which is infinitely safer for everyone than me taking a bus or a train.

      And I don’t understand this “going home” thing. I rather stay where I am and wait. Why should I still travel to be somewhere else where they also have the virus?

    • mitch says:

      your words are extremely ignorant and inconsiderate. the real criminal here is whoever parented or taught you throughout your life time, that instilled you with such a hateful and reactionary mindset. i hope that you will find peace and not stretch your shortcomings onto others in the future

  11. mitch says:

    Thank you andreas for being an inspiration and staying responsible during these times

  12. nsnunag says:

    Hello, have you been to the Easter Island too?

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