I picked up a few hitch-hikers in Romania last year, got proposed to by a few single mothers, and so decided when I landed on the Isle of Mull that it was worth giving it a go myself. That and the bus to Tobermory’s youth hostel had just left and the next wasn’t for another 2 hours.
I started walking with my pack, banjo, and guitar on my back, and then I saw the road sign for Tobermory. 21 miles. Well, at least it wasn’t raining—I knew better than to say this out loud, but I was certainly thinking it.
Every time I heard the hum of a car’s wheels behind me, I turned, flashed out the thumb, and watched them go by--Audis, Peugeots, Skodas, BMWs, camp vans, etc. I just sort of grinned and enjoyed the scenery. The flowers were blooming, it was cool, cloudy weather, and it wasn’t raining.
I’d covered about half a mile when I saw the next bus stop and re-checked. That’s when I noticed the bus didn’t even stop at this point, but did at the next stop. Well, I thought, that could make things interesting.
The Dun da Gaoithe, “Fort of the Two Winds,” stretched high above to my left, sloping from high, rusty ridges down into green fields and dark conifers until I reached the broadleaf forest spotted with purple flowers and the occasional dark green of the gorse, decorated with golden flowers. Waves from the Sound of Mull slapped against the rocky coast. After about a mile and a half, I came to a large stand of gorse, sweet-smelling as coconut macaroons, and then a golf course, signs for eagle-watching, and a parking lot with a few cars for bird-watchers to park.
I heard a Scottish voice to my right: “Where are you heading then?”
A lady was standing behind her car, waving at me.
“Come on then. Come on, we’ll give you a ride.”
Gratefully, I headed on over. “Paula’s my name,” she said, extending her hand, “and this is my husband, Glenn.”
“I’m Colin; thanks for the lift.”
“Aye, we saw you back there and figured if you still wanted a lift, we’d give it to you.” She grinned.
“Well, that’s kind of you!”
So we chatted on the way, as the road wound higher up on the shoulders of the hills (that would have been a lot less fun to walk), and we knew some of the same places in York and Virginia both.
“Well, you’ve got guts doing that,” Glenn said. “My dad and I used to hitch hike all the time, but no one does that anymore.”
“Well,” I said, “I figure you meet a lot more interesting people that way.”
“Ha, that’s true,” he said. “And it makes sense when everyone’s heading the same way anyway.”
They dropped me off at the hostel. “You already have a bed?”
I grinned. “Not yet, but I’ll sort it. Thanks, and I’ll see you about town. Just look for the guy with the banjo.”
"Right then. It's not supposed to rain tonight, either."
UPDATE: The hostel had a bed. And I got a gig at the bar across the bay on Thursday.