We spent the morning and forenoon walking around in Avignon. The city looked very different from the night before, not as many people were awake and the music played was more calm and friendly, not as party and heavy beats as yesterday.
It was warm, the shade provided a little cooler air but still I was afraid of burning myself as I forgot to put sun screen on. My worries were not for nothing, later that night my face was more red than pink-brownish. We walked up to the church, took photos of Jesus hanging on the cross with an angel on the tower behind, looking over the city. I walked on a stonewall and we admired the view of the mountains in the background, the small city in the foreground and the blue sky above. The top of the mountains were snowy, not very much though but enough to see the white coat from a distance.
We had some trouble with the receptionist at the hostel in the morning. When we arrived we asked if we could leave our bags there during the day, and they said yes. But as we came in the morning to leave our bags the woman said we couldn’t. It was full. She told us to go to the camping’s reception and so we did.
“No, it’s the hostel that store bags, we don’t. Then everyone would leave it here, and there is no space for that.”
We cursed the hostel a little before walking back to their reception. We insisted, said that we had been promised to leave our bags there as we arrived the night before, and that it was wrong by them to promise and then deny. The woman sighed, and said “ok ok, when do you want to fetch them? Write it here.” We wrote four pm on a note and she nodded her head “yes ok, you can go.” We went to the storeroom and put our bags down. No space? Bullshit. I’m sorry, but there were lots of space back there.
At four pm we went back to the hostel and got our bags, and started walking towards the place where our last ride yesterday, Remi, told us we could stand.
It was a short walk, but because we first went in the wrong direction it became a long walk. But after half an hour or so we stood by the side of the highway towards Nimes. We were heading to Carcassonne, because it was the only place we had found a host for the night. Our host was a man in his 60s who lived on the country side just a few kilometers outside the city. His couch was already busy by two German girls, but he had raised his tent in the garden for us to sleep in and he would lend us mattresses and sleeping-bags.
After standing by the road a couple of minutes, two brothers from Armenia stopped. They were heading towards Nimes, but wouldn’t go all the way there. We jumped into their car and presented us. The driver was working as an engineer, their car looked more expensive than I would think they could afford, but I guess almost anyone can afford a fancy car nowadays.
As they dropped us off, we didn’t stand for many minutes before a truck stopped. First about five other people stopped and asked were we were going, but they were all going in the wrong direction. The truck driver was an old man on his way to some place outside Montpellier. His English was very poor and we didn’t really understand what he meant when he pulled off the highway in Montpellier and started driving towards the city. That was the last place we wanted to go, in the city it would be very difficult for us to get back to the pay-station. He drove far and passed a few shopping-malls before turning into a backyard of one of them. He told us to wait ten minutes, then we would go again. By then we were getting afraid that we would have to walk for an hour or so before our next ride, and that we wouldn’t arrive in Carcassonne until in the middle of the night.
Our worries were unnecessary. He took us out of Montpellier and drove pretty far, about forty minutes, before dropping us off by a pay-station again.
Again, there was only a break for a few minutes until a guy stopped. He was Spanish and on his way south. He wouldn’t go pass Carcassonne, but to the place were the highway split and one went to Toulouse and the other to Barcelona. Yes, we were very close to the big Spanish city. Our driver said it would be difficult to find a ride to Carcassonne now and that he would pay our train tickets to Bordeaux the next day. It was more than a hundred euro and we told him he’s crazy and said no. Why would he do that? A nice guy had suddenly turned creepy.
Half an hour later we got into another car by the next pay-station. “You’re lucky, not many people are going to Carcassonne at this time of day.” Oh yes, we had noticed. There were hardly any cars passing by the station, and the ones that did went the other direction. Towards Barcelona.
The guy told us the buses in Carcassonne all stop running at seven pm, and it was already nine o’clock. We thought we would have to walk all the way to our couch surfing host, but our driver took us all the way to the front step of his door.
Our host greeted us, and offered food. My word I was happy, almost all space in my brain was taken by the thoughts of “food food food sleep sleep sleeeeeeep”. It is exhausting to hitch-hike. It’s not just the car-riding all the time, it’s not the waiting, standing and walking. It’s the people. The politeness. Having to try as hard as possible all the time to talk, ask questions, try to make oneself understandable and try to understand. Conversations. Meetings. People. It is very tiring.
At eleven pm the two German girls arrived, and the five of us went to the old city inside the walls in Carcassonne. We walked around the medieval city by night and admired the old fort. Our host told us about the history, about how the city was an important point to the French to keep because of the threat from Spain. I drew parallels to the city Visby in Sweden (if you haven’t been there, go there right away, you’ve missed something).
The time was past midnight, probably closer to one pm, before we crept into the tent and crawled into the sleeping-bags. We would be awaked at seven by the tractors (yes we had landed in heaven!) and we sure did. But I love the sound and find it very relaxing, so I easily fell asleep again and slept until half past eight. The five of us had breakfast together and our host accompanied us to the old city again. Jiaxin and I went into the castle, it was free for Europeans under 25 years and I got two tickets saying we were Swedish (they didn’t check her passport so we got away with it, somehow people find it hard to believe that a Chinese girl and a Swedish girl travel together and assume we come from the same country).
Afterwards our host drove us to the pay-station outside Carcassonne and five minutes later we were in a truck towards Toulouse. The fields were covered with bright yellow sunflowers and even though rain had started to fall from the clouds it was bright outside.