So I lost my wallet.
I was pretty upset because I lost the visa card. It was my only valid card, and HSBC Vietnam refused to issue a new card without my presence. There is no way I can receive or withdraw money from now on. In the depressed moment, I even thought of giving up the trip and going back to Vietnam. But then I realized that it was purely stupid. I don’t have money, so what? I’ve already booked the ticket to Ethiopia, and I’m doing AFRICA! Even if I can only travel for only few more weeks, I’ll still have the most fun out of it. I’ve never had money with me, so the wallet had only sentimental value anyway.
I made myself a huge breakfast and food made me happy again. Feeling the need to spice up my trip (and mostly unable to afford a bus ticket), I decided to on a challenge: hitchhiking from Tel Aviv to Eilat. It’s deemed impossible for 2 reasons: 1. It’s impossible to hitchhike (or tremp, as they call it here) from Tel Aviv, nobody will pick up hitchhikers from a big city. 2. It’s a 350km trip through Negev dessert where the temperature goes up to 45 -50 degrees.
By that time, I was familiar with Tel Aviv streets. First, I needed to get out of the city on foot. Luckily, I was staying pretty close to the South exit of the city. The last time I went there was to tremp to Jerusalem. I ended up walking for 2 hours on a highway with no shoulder for cars to stop, until I was totally exhausted and took a bus instead. Lesson learned, this time I decided to tremp BEFORE getting on the highway. I chose myself a visible spot at the beginning of the highway. Few cars passed by giving me a weird look. I started wondering if it was even legal for cars to stop there or I was making myself an idiot standing there, then whoops, a car pulled over.
- Eilat? – It was a rhetoric question. The chance that he was going to Eilat is 1 in 1 million. I didn’t care where he was going, all I cared was that he was heading South and I needed a better spot to tremp.
He shrugged his shoulders and laughed. We exchanged the ultimate conversation: he asked me where I am from, how old I am, why I hitchhike, why I am traveling alone, blah blah while I just smiled politely and tried to be cute. He dropped me at Ashdod, about 30mins from Tel Aviv.
- Crazy girl, good luck.
Luck was exactly what I needed. As soon as I got off his car, another car stopped. This car took me another 30mins down South. The same procedure and conversation were repeated.
- Where are you from?
- Ah, Filipino girls are the best.
- Yeah, but I’m from Vietnam.
- Is it that hot in Cambodia?
- I’m from VIETNAM.
I hated this guy already. Come on, you must have at least heard of the Vietnam war, haven’t you. We aren’t that insignificant T_T
He dropped me off I had no idea where. A van stopped, and before I knew it, I got one of the most unexpected rides ever.
It was a delivery van from Tel Aviv. They were delivering stuff to God-know-where. “It’s just 2 hours from Eilat, don’t worry.” They threw my bags on the back and I seated in front with them. If I’m not mistaken, the guy who was driving is Nimrod and the other guy is Ron. They are both in their early 30s, but they acted like school boys.
- Veeewww, let’s go!
Nimrod stirred the wheel while Ron just laughed hysterically for no reason. They started telling me stories of their traveling in South America, Asia, etc. after the army, pretty much a typical Israeli story. Nimrod was really excited about his dream.
- I want to buy a van and travel everywhere in Australia.
- Do it.
- No money. Have to pay rent and such.
- Why do you need an apartment? Get rid of the rent, get a tent and camp on Rothschild (thousands of people are camping on Rothschild to protest against the housing price).
- If I do it, will you travel Australia with me?
- Insha’Allah. – I laughed.
They stopped at several cities on the way to deliver stuff. I wanted to get off somewhere along the highway to tremp with another car so that I could get to Eilat before dark, but they convinced me otherwise.
- Come on, stay with us. It’s fun. We are almost half way to Eilat.
Ron was right. It was fun. I had a chance to check out the places that normally I would never think of going to. I was amazed how the furniture was assembled from small pieces, using really smart screw designs that I have never seen before. I picked up a cradle and assembled it myself.
- Wow, no need for instruction? Smart ass huh. – Ron and Nimrod gave me a heartfelt approval and my nose blew up to the sky. Ha, I’m good at it
They dropped me just outside Dimona.
- Write to me. – Nimrod shouted goodbye. – Let’s do Australia together.
To my horror, I read a sign on the street: “Eilat – 240km”. It wasn’t half way. 4 hours and I’d only progressed like 60km. But it was worth it. I like really the boys, they are the type I would want to hang out with. Too bad I’ve got to move on.
A man picked me up and I was soon on the road again. He dropped me in the middle of nowhere. It was so hot that I could barely breathe. The wind carried the heat through the desert, slapped right onto my face. The bottle of water I brought started getting hot after just few minutes. I could see it evaporating. I was boiling!
The scariest thing is that there was almost no traffic there. A car passed by every 5 or 10 minutes. Well, it’s a looooong time when you are all by yourself in the middle of the desert. A car stopped right in front of me. I ran towards eagerly but the woman sitting in the front gave me the signal to back off. The driver looked at me wryly. He told the woman something but she kept shaking her head and threw me a look as if she was about to pour acid on me. The man shrugged, I guess it’s his way of saying sorry. Oh, bitches!
But it was my luck that they didn’t pick me up. Another car soon pulled over and that’s how I met Yoni.
Yoni is a nice 24 year old guy with the kind of face that you can trust from the first look. He is from Dimona but lives in Eilat for his work. His English is probably at my Hebrew level. He pointed at the bottle of water in his car:
- I make.
- You make water. Are you God?
With awkward body language, he managed to explain to me that he works for this company. Later, through friends that I found out he’s the manager of the whole region or something like that.
We exchanged some information, but most of the time we just listened to the music and sang along. Even though we couldn’t communicate much, his style made me feel really comfortable. He lives in the center of the city but he got out of his way to take me to the border. Mission accomplished. But it was just the beginning of a huge balagal (trouble) that I couldn’t have managed without the help of Yoni.