Picking up hitchhikers: Part 2

We took our first shot at picking up hitchhikers this year whilst road tripping through the North of Argentina (check out my post ‘picking up hitchhikers‘). This post tells the second story of our experiences, whilst helping out our fellow budget travellers. The people we met doing this were all so unique that I felt that they really need their own stories…

Louis from Spain

We’d met Louis briefly in our Hurmamarca hostel over breakfast. He’d mentioned he was hitchhiking, making his way up to the Bolivian border, and that today was the day he was moving on. We wished him luck, and set off for our day trip to Iruya.
iruya church

Hitching to Iruya

It was a 2.5 hour drive to the small mountain town of Iruya. The long, awkward journey didn’t seem to be stopping the budget travellers (looking for something off the beaten track). Imagine our surprise when, after lunch, we ran into Louis, who hitchhiked his way the full distance with all of his kit. We had another brief chat, telling him that if he needed another lift back to the main roads, to wait at our car early evening.
clouds iruya

Night rider

We spent our day climbing enormous mountain trails and napping in the sun, coming back down at 6pm as it began to get cold (and dark). Louis was nowhere to be seen. Assuming he’s decided to spend a night in Iruya, we made for our long drive back to our hostel.
The mountain roads are windy. To avoid damage to the car from kick up from the gravel roads, the drive is slow. We drove for a good solid 1.5hrs, with the clouds closing around the mountains behind us. It was pitch black.. and getting really cold.
Turning a corner, in the complete darkness on the gravel road, was a hitchhiker with his arm out. Worried about their location, we slowed to roll down our window. There he was. Louis!!!

The journey of a hitchhiker

It transpired that Louis, unable to find our car, had assumed we’d left by the time he was looking to leave. He had hitchhiked with multiple Argentinian drivers, all of whom were only able to take him so far, before turning off for a more obscure track. In the last half hour, a good few cars had passed him in the cold, dark night. Nobody had stopped. “what would you have done, had we not come along?” I asked him. “I was going to give it another 30 minutes, and then probably try find some leaves and a tree to make shelter for the night”, he replied. It seems this was not the first time Louis had done this. He explained that he’d often had to ‘bunk down’ with nature, after not being able to score a lift. “Your body will endure more than you think it can”, he continued in a casual manner.

louis hitchhike

A new friend

I was impressed, and intrigued by Louis’s outlook on life (and travel). We took him back to the hostel, cooked him dinner and listened to him tell us “I had a feeling something good would happen, and then you guys appeared”. We shared our food, our drink, and learned more about his work-away setup/home in Spain. The next morning we hugged, and said our goodbyes as he headed back onto the road, aiming for Bolivia. Had we not opened ourselves up to picking up hitchhikers, I’d never have had this wonderful memory…. and Louis may have spent the night up a freezing cold mountain under a tree.

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