And now, Part II of Andrew Evans’s harrowing and somewhat remarkable border crossing. Click here for Part I.
Kids, don’t try this at home.
You should never ever hitchhike. It’s really dangerous because, really, who knows what could happen?
What could happen is it might be 10 p.m. and you’re standing on the Costa Rican border needing to get to the capital–some 200 miles away–by noon the next day. The problem is is that there’s not another bus for another nine hours. Then suddenly, a huge 18-wheeler truck pulls up, and the driver sees you standing there because it’s pitch black and the middle of nowhere and so he rolls down his window and pokes his head out and asks if you need a ride, and even though you’re not sure you should really be hitching in a strange foreign country, you say yes because how else are you going to get there? So you climb into his huge semi-truck cab.
Then off you go, heading towards your ultimate goal and getting to know this person who’s taking you there. He’s a truck driver from Nicaragua named Marvin who is driving to Puerto Limón and carrying a ship container filled with milk that’s headed for Venezuela. And you talk with him for a while and feel safe because he’s not a lunatic. You get to know one another and he explains all of his tricks for driving all night long. He drinks lots of coffee and Coca-Cola, but he also drinks lots of water and best of all, he sings.
He slips a CD into his stereo and out pours the melodious merengue music of Celia Cruz and without skipping a beat, Marvin starts singing right along–he knows all the words and he belts them out, occasionally slipping into the harmony when Celia sings too high.
You drive with this guy for almost four hours but because he’s carrying
many tons of milk, you’re only doing 30 mph and all you really want to
do is go to sleep but you don’t want to fall asleep in a stranger’s
truck so you fight to stay awake and start drinking water and singing
along to stay awake as well. But it’s too much. The driver gets too
tired and pulls over to the roadside. He’s sick, he says–he’s had too
much water to drink and his stomach hurts. Then he
steps out and proceeds to violently vomit up all the water he’s been
drinking. Then he gets back in the truck, climbs back into his cab and
passes out, snoring within seconds.
So you ditch the truck
driver and stand on the roadside in the dark, walking on until you come
to an all-night trucker’s café. It’s two in the morning but they’re
open and you order dinner because you can’t remember when you ate last.
When they bring the chicken and rice, you find comfort in the huge
bottle of Linzano salsa that is the most Costa Rican thing in the world.
so you eat and strike up a conversation with the waitress, who,
- Nat Geo Expeditions
realizing your predicament, flags down a passing car of a friend, who
then drives you the rest of the way to San Jose where you get dropped
off at the airport and fall asleep at 4 a.m. on the shiny, hard floor
with your backpack as a pillow.
That’s what could happen if you
hitchhike. If you don’t believe me, I’ve got proof. Without further
ado, please meet Marvin, the singing truck driver who I hope is feeling
much better now (filmed with his permission). Gracias for the lift,
Andrew is currently on board the National Geographic Sea Lion, which is traveling from Costa Rica to Panama. Follow his Twitter feed here @Bus2Antarctica, bookmark all of his blog posts here, and get the full story on the project here. All photos and video by Andrew Evans.