Around this time last year, I was periodically e-mailing family members, harassing my friends and planning all manner of crazy money-making schemes. No, my student loan hadn’t run out; I was trying my best to raise sponsorhip money for an amazing charity called Link Community Development, that works with the education system in sub-Saharan Africa, by attempting to get everyone I possibly could to sponsor me to hitch-hike across Europe to Morocco.
About 2 months later, myself and two faithful companions found ourselves standing by the side of a road in Southampton, an optimisitic whiteboard sign held aloft, trying to catch a lift to Portsmouth and begin our journey. What followed were two weeks of amazing and surreal experiences that I could never have anticipated. Here is a list of my personal Top 10 Favourites:
10. Camping at Service Stations En Route: Not the most glamorous of ways to sleep, but 100% free and a very different experience.
9. Catching a Lift From a Genuine French Shaman: Definitely the most colourful character that drove us during our journey, we learnt much from him about his magical ways.
8. Club Skoda: A lift we caught with two Spanish dandies in a rented Skoda, all the way from the North to the South coast of Spain. It took no less than 8 hours, every minute of those hours enhanced by full-volume, pumping techno music. Ideal.
7. Mini Holiday in Malaga: Due to this unexpected progress, we were able to take 3 days out of our hitch-hiking schedule to sun ourselves on the beautiful beaches of Malaga on the south coast of Spain.
6. Fez Tannery: The most visually interesting and culturally rich Medina we discovered in Morocco, here we visited the famous leather-tanneries in the centre of Fez.
5. Sleeping on a Moroccan Roof: For the tiny price of 22 Dirham (£2), we unrolled our sleeping bags for a night spent on the roof terrace of a hostel in Fez, which is a common option throughout the country, and were woken up at 4am by the Muslim call to prayer. Very atmospheric.
4. Having to Catch a Monkey: Whilst walking through the Djemaa El Fna in Marrakech, my reflexes were tested to the limits when a Moroccan man threw a monkey straight into my arms.
3. The Souks: The best shopping experience in the world, let alone in Marrakech.
2. Ouzoud Waterfalls: Breathtakingly beautiful, and wonderfully refershing to swim in, the Cascades D’Ouzoud are only a minibus ride from the centre of Marrakech.
1. Sleeping in the Sahara: Halfway through our time in Morocco we took a two day trip into the Sahara on camels and slept under the stars in the dunes. Seeing the sunrise over the sand was truly the best way to wake up.
This year’s Hitch is running to either Morocco or Croatia – both equally amazing destinations! Over 70 adventurous Southampton students have already signed up, so it’s fast becoming a big event. If any of this has inspired you to take part in The Hitch, or even just to find out more, log on to www.linkhitch.org, or www.facebook.com/southamptonhitch. The deadline for registering is the 6th of February so you’ll have to hurry – get involved, it will be one of the best things you will ever do!