Have Thumb — Will Travel

Marseille - Gare de Saint CharlesEven if I can only remember bits and pieces, it was a memorable trip.

Latter half of the 80’s, that much I am sure of; I was still married to my first wife.

Selfish? I search for a kinder explanation. Marital crisis? Nope. Sex was not part of the quest. No rationalizations available; I am egotistical. These days, I know that about myself.

My goal was Marseille. Could I hitchhike there in one day? How far south could I go?

Where did the idea come from? Probably something I read.

I can remember time and money were factors. I could only afford one night in a cheap hotel and I needed to train it to Lausanne to be back in time for something. Work?

Was this a treat to myself?

I walked to the highway on ramp and was soon in Geneva. I must have said something about where I was going; I remember the driver saying that hitching across the border is difficult.

Where would I be at the end of the day?

Valence was my next stop. I’d never heard of the place. The driver was going there for business. It’s not an insignificant city.

I’d been lucky. The waits were short, the rides far.

Renault 4LThe beat up Renault 4L told me I was no longer in Switzerland. I must have done a good job at looking safe. The driver was female and she dropped me off at highway rest-stop near Avignon.

Was that the time I learned of the theatre festival? I knew the lullaby. I had the time to start speculating. Was there a bridge tourists visited? Avignon counted as an accomplishment.

My next stop was a coastal town to the west of Marseille. No traffic, no cheap hotels and nothing that resembled a train station. I could see a bay in the distance.

The thing about quiet villages is that people are always going to the big city to play.

The sun had set by the time I checked in. I improvised a pedestrian tour of the environs and the next morning I was on a train home.

Seedy hotels are in seedy neighbourhoods. It would be a few years before I added picturesque scenes to my memories.

This trip was about the journey.

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