Traveling across eastern Europe by hitchhiking is an exciting adventure. The journey of a TravelMaker is full of wonderful stories of good people on the road. You actually get to witness human kindness and the spirit of giving. Imagine standing outside in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm, trying to cross the border between Poland and Slovakia, relying only on strangers for a ride. Imagine the feeling when a miraculous car stops for you after hours of waiting in the cold. Imagine the sensation of finding a friend in who, only a minute ago, was a total stranger. Those feelings are the heart of the TravelMakers experience.
However, the TravelMakers project is not all fun and games. Not all the people you meet on the road are willing to help, and others might even try to harm you. This was the case when the TravelMakers made it to Debrecen, Hungary. At first they gathered on the outskirts of the city, in an area suitable for camping. The TravelMakers made it from all corners of Hungary, after already hitchhiking from Germany to Poland and then to Slovakia. The weary travelers settled down for two nights of sleeping in tents, eating near the fire and gathering fruit from the surrounding trees. It seemed nothing could spoil the good times.
But the good times could not last for long. In the second morning, waking up early to get to the city, some travelers discovered they were missing some of their belongings. shoes for one, a wallet for another, and even recording equipment for our film. It wasn’t long before we understood that we were victims of theft. Someone must have come at night and stolen what was ours. But this was not the end. Hours later, thieves struck again, this time stealing more money and equipment.
After blocking the credit cards from being used and visiting the local police station, we sat down for a group meeting. It was the first day of our journey that the faces of the travelers were not all smiling. It seemed that the thieves got away not only with our belongings, but with our good spirit as well. Some of us talked about the dangers of sleeping outside with no security, others of our lack of caution. Voices of disappointment were filling the air.
However, soon enough, after talking of what had happened the travelers, who lost much that day, decided together not to lose trust in others. We agreed about the value of traveling together, “through the borders“, those that are inside us, and those inside others. The conclusion from our conversation had two parts: one, being more cautious the next time we camp outside. The second, and most important, was to continue our journey without giving up on what we came for- trusting people, and encouraging others to do so as well.