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.
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!