In the freezing cold of 7am I walked a long way to the highway, but once there the second car to come by stopped for me. He drove me up to Bern, but he left me in a bad spot to continue.
This is the tricky thing about hitchhiking: the need to steer drivers away from where they think is the best place to be dropped off. Their personal inexperience with hitchhiking makes them think spatially (all the traffic flows in this spot, therefore it must be good) and not in terms of where it’s legal to stand or where the police might hassle me—and Swiss police have plenty of free time for people like me. Last week and this I had the police come by to chat. It often happens, but I am used to it. It’s important that I speak only English and give the impression of an American bumpkin. This particular motorcycle cop didn’t really want to have to ask me to move, sheepishly adding, “Is it OK?”
“You are the policeman!”, I reminded him. “It’s OK!” and he went on his way.
But it was a bad spot and I was freezing to death in the wind. A very aggrieved Palestinian saved me. I had a big American flag on my back (attached with velcro, I am not that stupid) and was ready to join in on a few chants of “Death to America!” with him, I was so pleased to get out of there, but he could separate the person from the country, whereas an American in the opposite situation, unfamiliar with either, would find it harder to do the same.
I don’t have a good look for hitchhiking or anything else, as I resemble a kid who has dressed himself for the first time: orange pants, red shirt, yellow and blue jacket to go with my white shoes and green and black backpack. I have to work on that if I want anyone to pick me up. My orange pants have faded to an apricot color. Not good.
Another ride came as I stood under an overpass protected from the rain, then a young guy with bloodshot eyes who hadn’t been to sleep last night—something about Playstation 3—liked my “ZURICH AIRPORT” sign and drove me straight there, whereupon I walked to Jose’s work. We saw Graciela and the new baby, Jose Manuel, and went for lunch in the airport.
How many airports in USA would people purposely go for lunch? In Europe it isn’t so crazy and in some places (Amsterdam, Zurich) it’s downright pleasant.
Hung out for the afternoon with Rolf and Sonja’s boys as we scheme to play tennis tomorrow. It seems that all my friends here play tennis and are shocked that I can play, too. I am always underestimated as an athlete because I have the body of an Ethiopian kid, circa 1982: skinny shoulders, skinny butt, skinny legs, distended stomach–but I will surprise you.