I’ve never been a backpacker. To be honest, I prefer a double room en suite and a rental car for my vacations. However, sometimes unexpected circumstances demand unexpected decisions and sometimes only 6,000 miles are enough to escape the demons plaguing you.
So, even though Munich is a nice city to live in, I needed to get out immediately. I got a backpack, a flight ticket, a traveler’s bus pass and – just in case – a travel guide together with many exciting opportunities and practical travel tips from my family and friends. There I was, ready to depart to the United States of America for three weeks – alone.
I flew into Boston, where I stayed for a few days and my next stop was an island in Maine. I had done all my planning using the internet and had the information for a shuttle service to get me to my destination. Based on the information from the website, there was a daily shuttle service from the bus stop to the island where I was planning a stay at a youth hostel.
“Reservations required, call here!” So I did. Unfortunately, when I called, the woman who answered said “I’m so sorry, but it’s the last week of season and we aren’t planning to make any more stops today. The next time I could pick you up is tomorrow.”
Darn, I was already on my way, calling her on my cell phone and without any idea at all what to expect in Maine. Bugger! I should have called when I was still in Boston so I could stay another night at the youth hostel there. The lady on the phone repeated her sincere apology.
Not sure what to do next, I thanked herthe best I could with my broken English and started to hang up the phone. However, just a second before I was hanging up, she stopped me and said to call her back in 1 hour!
When I called her back, she said she had rescheduled some errands and would pick me up at the bus stop anyway.
Great! WOW! How lucky I am! I survived my first backpacking “crisis”! (I mean, the first morning in Boston when a cute and very kind man unlocked my accidentally locked backpack by breaking the locker doesn’t count as a real crisis – he was a blessing.)
Time to get off the bus. After a 6.5 hour live introduction to American culture and geography – much more exciting than hearing it in my classroom back home in Germany – I arrived safe and sound in Maine.
I have to admit my first impression was, “I’m in the middle of nowhere!”. Between the dusky skies and being the only traveler, the feeling was even stronger!
Ok, where is the shuttle service to pick me up? Ten minutes later, 20 minutes later, 30 minutes later, nobody showed up. Was it the wrong stop?
Well done, I am 6,000 miles from home and lost somewhere in Maine. Nobody around me, it’s already dark, I have no idea where the heck I really am, where to go, or what to do. The shuttle service must have forgotten to pick me up or is waiting at a different stop. I have no place to stay and to top all this, for some reason my mobile doesn’t work, bugger!
Who had this trip idea anyway? Although I had never thought about any “horrible” consequences, I could suddenly hear all the fears as a single female traveler I was going to experience creeping in around the edges of my excitement.
Suddenly a headlight flasher wakened me from my nightmares and a minivan was coming my direction. It took a load off my mind when the car stopped and a woman in her forties jumped out of the car and said: “Hi! Welcome, it’s great to have you here. Sorry for my delay but the traffic was a mess.” When she started the car and we headed to the island, she told me it is about a 1.25 hour drive to get to the hostel. As we drove through the countryside, I said, “Thank you very much! I had no idea it would be a 2.5 hour drive for you.”
She answered, “you know what, for some reason I felt I just had to pick you up.” Wow, her words impressed me so much. She made a 2.5 hour trip “just” because she had the feeling to pick me up?! Awesome, how kind is that! I thought “not everybody would make such a long drive at night to pick up a complete stranger.”
My thoughts got interrupted by her, “we are very close but unfortunately due to the darkness we can’t see the ocean, do you want to taste it anyway?” And before I even could translate and answer her surprising question, she had already opened all windows of the car. Immediately a strong gust of wind hit us.
However, a marvelous salty breeze of freedom flows through the car, saying:
sometimes unexpected circumstances demand unexpected decisions.
Silke, Munich, Germany