Vilnius Challenge 2013 varžybos 2013/06/02Posted by altsport in Baidariavimas, Kalnų kelionių sportas, Kitkas, Kliūčių trasų įveikimas, Orientacinis sportas.
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Keli žodžiai apie Vilnius Challenge varžybas 🙂 Diena prasidėjo smagiu pasivažinėjimu Pauliaus visureigiu per balas ir duobes link nuošalios vietos Neries regioniniame parke, kur palikome savo dviračius. Toliau nuvykom iki Balto tilto, kur ir prasidėjo visas veiksmas 9tą valandą. Nuo pat pradžių nuklydom ne ten kur reikia dėl apgaulingos žemėlapio legendos, pavaizdavusios starto vietą už Žveryno 😀 Taigi prabėgom porą nereikalingų kilometrų ir atitrūkom nuo visos bandos, tai teko jau visai tik savom jėgom ieškot punktų, o ne sekt kitus kaip uodega iš paskos. Tai iš šitos pusės žiūrint tai tikresnis trasos patyrimas gavosi. Prasibėgę per kelis punktus senamiestyje atvykom į Žveryną kur gavom plaukimo plokštes kuriomis bandėm saugiau prasiirt iki Neries ir už Balto tilto. Prisidraskėm kelius į Vilnelės akmenis, o aš dar ir žemėlapį pamest sugebėjau (laimei vėliau paprašęs gavau antrą iš organizatorių prie Balto tilto). Prie tilto pasiemėm savo riedučius ir nuskubėjom iki požeminės nuotekų trasos, kurios iki kaulų persmelkiančiais šaltais vandenim ėjom apie kilometrą iki šeškinės kalno papėdės. Užkilę kalnu patekom į už Akropolio esančią Uno Park virvių rungtį, kuri buvo labai jau anti-įspūdinga. Viso labo virvių lygiagretės tarp medžių virš šiokio tokio griovio. Atsižymėjimas buvo virvių trasos vidury.
Iš ten nubėgom kitapus Ukmergės gatvės prie nedidelio prudo, o jau sekančio punkto ieškant pradėjom stipriai grybauti šukuodami mišką ant vieno iš šeškinės kalnų. Ir praradę apie valandą nusprendėm praleist punktą, kad nebeaukot likusios trasos smagumų. Taip iškart ir pasukom link Karoliniškių miško draustinio, kur eilinį sykį mus paklaidino žemėlapio legenda, nusakanti kad punktas yra lomos viršuje, nors tikrovėje tai buvo apačia. Vėl praradę dar dalį laiko miško šukavimui, bet šįsyk vis gi radę punktą nuskubėjom toliau į Vingio parką. Parke turėjom atlikt riedučių trasos dalį, bet atvykę išgirdom iš vieno organizatoriaus, kad baidarių dalis užsidarys už pusvalandžio ir nebegalėsim tęsti, jei važinėsime riedučiais. Vėl gi paaukojom ir šią dalį varžybų viso kito gėrio labui. Prieš baidares dar reikėjo pašaudyt iš lanko. Turėjau 5 bandymus pataikyt į taikinio bent jau mėlyną zoną, bet pirmų šūviu strelė įsmigo raudonoj ir mes nubėgom prie baidarės. Kažką girdėjom, kad plaukimo bus apie pora valandų iki dviračių, bet apsisukom per vieną. Pakeliui teko išspręst rebusą rastą prie punkto sąloj, kad galėtume rasti sekantį.
Išsilaipinę prie dviračių truputį užkandom ir pamatę kad lieka apie 2 valandos iki varžybų pabaigos, nusprendėm praleist didžiąją dalį dviračių rungties vardan įvairių Montis Magia virvių rungčių. Vieną iš jų atlikom prie gaisrininkų mokyklos. Lipom į antrą pastato aukštą nuleista žarna, o po to pakilę laiptais, leidomes žemyn virve iš penkto aukšto. Sekantis pasismaginimas su virvęm buvo vėl Karoliniškių miško draustinyje – traversavom virvėmis 5 kartus tai į vieną, tai į kitą griovio pusę, atsižymėdami kiekvienoje griovio pusėje esančiam punkte iki kurių dar reikėdavo prasibėgt per nedideles kalvas.
Užbaigę, pradėjom labai smagų ir kartais ekstremalų pasivažinėjimą dviračiais Karoliniškių miško takeliais virš įvarių stačių šlaitų link Žveryno ir toliau iki Balto tilto, kur atlikom dar porą laipiojimo užduočių – užlipimą dirbtine sienelę į patį tiltą ir nusileidimą virve nuo tilto į upę.
Leidžiantis net nepajutom kaip baigėsi virvė ir teko panardyt, o tada greitai plaukt į krantą. Pabaigai nubėgom nusileist trosu nuo VCUP stogo atgal iki tilto. Pralaukę truputį eilėje vis gi gavom progą ir šią paskutinę ir vieną smagesnių dalių išbandyt. Na, o tada finišavom beveik laiku. Surinkom 36 iš 62 galimų punktų. Truputį gaila prarasto pusvalandžio pradžioje ir vėliau vos ne 2 valandų tarp 17 ir 19 punktų, kai šukavom ilgai miškus. Overall, patyrimas superinis, net nepastebėjau kaip greitai prabėgo tos 9 valandos nepertraukiamo ir įtraukiančio veiksmo. Dar galvojau kad kitamet reiktų rinktis megėjų trasą, norint nuo pradžių iki galo viską spėt surinkt, bet kitavertus geriau liksiu prie elito – daugiau įvairių rungčių ir kitų įdomybių. Kur tobulėti tikrai yra, ypač orientuojantis su topografiniais žemėlapiais.
Update 2013/05/02Posted by altsport in Kitkas.
It is a while since I’ve been checking what’s up with my blog and apart from the times I plan on a new trip or if I’m in the middle of one, I don’t really do that. But I think of livening it up a bit soon with some additional categories like rollerblading and running, which I’m into lately. That while I’m getting ready for some running and multi-sport competitions. Not so alternative anymore, but in the general direction of positive and active life style. Maybe I’ll even add something about frisbees. Not too sure yet, but it’s been also one of the best outdoors activities I had lately with my friends.
That being said, my next trip will be to El Camino del Ray in Spain. I plan it to be somewhere around second half of July. So expect more posts on hitchhiking as well around that time.
Lofoten and the road back home 2012/09/01Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.
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On Sunday after staying for the night and having opportunity to blog I got ready all refreshed to continue to the next destination of the trip, which was Lofoten archipelago that I was advised to visit by Bernt. In afternoon I was dropped off at the opposite side of Alta to start hitchhiking. After a while I got a lift with a football player returning after a match. Next ride was the one Bernt promised I would have with his son Baro, who was going to Tromso that day. By that time he already had another passenger – hitchhiker from UK. We both got a lift until Nordkjosbotn. From there I quickly got two more lifts and was already at the footstep of Lofoten late that day.
Hitchhiking on Lofoten was on good part with other foreigner tourist traveling around that place. So far I saw several cars with Lithuanian licence plates. And then got one ride with Lithuanian, who was working around there as many Lithuanians do in North Norway. While hitchhiking through Lofoten I got to see a lot of nice sceneries of the many mountains and isles. When I got to Reine village, which I was advised to visit by Bernt I asked the driver if there was any place I could do some hiking and was told to go climb Reinebringen mountain just near the village. The climb was rather difficult, because of the steep slopes and their muddy surface, which was kept wet by the many rivulets. Still in about an hour I reached the top at 448 meters, where I was able to enjoy almost 360 degrees of the surrounding view full of nice mountains, fjords and villages bellow. It was a very rewarding sight for such a short hike.
After enjoying it all I turned back and after getting down started hitching again. While trying to get a lift in those villages seen bellow I got a very short lift for about 3 or 4 kilometers. It was the only time the driver didn’t know English, which is a common language to know in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. While hitching back from Lofoten that day I stopped by Rambergs and Scagsanden sandy beaches to get a good view of their scenery with the nearby mountains in the background. With another day of hitchhiking I was well on my way back home through Sweden with Polish truck driver. While getting a lift I also got the task of exterminating flies in his cabin on the way South 🙂 Next day with another ride in a truck with a Russian driver I got to Finland, where with a couple more rides I almost reached the South. I camped since it got dark and continued in the morning. After reaching Helsinki, which took me 2 days hitchhiking all the way from the North, I was stuck there for the day since there was no tickets for an earlier ferry going to Tallinn.
I spent that day just laying on the bench in a harbor, feeding birds and later used free internet access in the facilities near harbor terminal. After the ride on the same ferry that got me to Finland in the first place I got to Tallinn a little after midnight. Then I had to take a very long walk through Tallinn to reach the outskirts of the city. It took me almost 4 hours and at the end I only had a couple of hours to rest and sleep. Then a somewhat weird final day of hitchhiking began for me. It was a final day of Summer too, so some interesting symbolism there. After a couple rides I got to Parnu town, where I got a lift in a run-down truck, which later was breaking constantly. After enduring it for a while I got to hitchhike something else and seeing as many Lithuanian trucks were passing by me I made a little sign with the letters LT. Soon I got a lift with Lithuanian truck driver and his son, who was helping father on that trip to communicate with finish in English. So with that one ride I got the rid of the headache of dealing with the bypass of Riga in Latvia. But later there were other complications after crossing the border into Lithuania, where the road construction was underway and we lost an hour in all the hold-ups. Then the problem with slow combine-harvesters on two lane road, which were slowing down all the traffic for considerable amount of time. After getting another lift from the area close to Vilnius I was at home and done with my two week trip.
Some statistics as usual:
Vehicles used: 75
Distance traveled: 5800 km
Hitchhiking to Cape Nordkinn 2012/08/26Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.
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Hi everyone. I’ve been on my way through the travel for a week now. In this week I already managed to get to Cape Nordkinn, which was my destination. But lets get at it in chronological way shall we. The very first rides I had in Lithuania-Estonia were coming quickly and I could say effortlessly. In less than two days I got to Tallin, where it rained all the time, so there was nothing much to do while waiting for my ferry to Helsinki. Luckily as the ferry left Tallin rain stopped or maybe we just left the rainy weather behind. It was a nice ride in the sea that I spent above on the deck appreciating the open space of sea and sky. In Helsinki I spent a lot of time figuring out the way outside the city, which was humongous in my opinion. Especially complicated were streets in old town. Still I somehow got on the right road and walked out of the city to the very edge of the town, where I spent the night camping.
Next day I had a disastrous start with hitchhiking out of the city premises. Traffic was intensive but I had no luck with rides for some 6 or 7 hours. Then a woman came up walking to me and said she saw me trying to get a lift for a very long time now, so she promised to pick me up soon and went away. And soon enough I had my first ride in Finland. I was asked to write how far I went that day. While I had some troubles with motorway limitations to hitching on the shoulders and the necessity to walk an extra mile or so to the right place on the entrances to motorway, I still managed to get as far as Pyhajarvi. There I got with a ride with Noora and Miika, who offered me to stay for the night at Nooras parents Anitta and Matthias house. So I got a nice chance to refresh myself for the following part of the trip. In the morning I visited the largest bell museum, which was located just by the road E75 that I was going up North. This second day of hitchhiking I started quite well, but got stuck near Oulu. At first I got a short ride from Oulu to some dead place traffic-wise – at least in the direction I needed. So I hitched the ride back to Oulu, but from the I got another ride to that same dead place. I felt quite stupid at the time, but still there suddenly appeared a car and I got another short lift, which got me far enough as to get away from the motorway part of the road. The following hitching was more simple. Although it was starting to rain a bit. In hope of saving myself from the rain I took out my little umbrella, but it immediately broke in not so strong of a wind. Anyway I got a ride soon, so all was well. When I got to Santa Claus Village and the start of Arctic Circle just after Rovaniemi town where I shopped a bit, I met another hitchhiker – Dima from Ukraine. Since we were heading in the same general North from there, we decided to hitch together for some time. We also met yet another hitchhiker from Italy there, but he seemed very unexperienced, so we instructed him a little on how to hitch and soon enough he got a lift. That day I and Dima reached Sodankyla town, on which outskirts we camped, while talking a lot about traveling and such.
The following day we hitched to Kiilopaa tourist point, where we at first had quite expensive meal for 8 Euros then left our backpacks to keep at the same place, where we ate and went hiking up the Kiilopaa hill, which proved to be an exception in overall Finland landscape so far which mostly consisted of forest and lakes. Although I wish lakes would have been more obviously noticeable, and not be hidden by that same forest most of the time. Kiilopaa was 546 meters hill with rocky surface at the top and a nice view over the landscape for dozens of kilometers. On the side that I came up from South it was just forest and further North it was more barren with some little bush vegetation in some places. That day after saying goodbyes with Dima we parted at Utsjoki at the border of Finland and Norway and I continued to Tana Bru, where I camped for the night.
On Thursday I was finally hitching up some less than a main kind of road. Traffic was low that far in the North. After a couple of rides I was stuck on some fjord and did a lot of walking there. Luckily scenery was beautiful and something different altogether from what I saw so far. When another ride finally came up, on the way we stopped to look at some rein deers in the fenced area. I’ve seen some already in Finland, but only from a moving car. With another ride in a truck I was finally moving North on Nordkyn Peninsula. When I got to Mehamn town I checked the map of the town on the stand at the outskirts in hopes of finding where the hiking trail to Cape Nordkinn begins. While doing that I was approached by this woman named Kristine, who was later very concerned about my intentions of hiking since she saw I didn’t have proper hiking shoes. I took a phone number of the information center of Mahamn from there since she insisted and went hiking for those few hours of daylight I still had. That night I spent in a very nice place between the rocky hills by the lake. Saw some rein deers again, but this time in the wild.
In the morning I realized how really difficult it was to hike on all that rocky terrain. There were stones after stones after stones – some of which were standing and pointing the sharp edges upwards to where my feet were. I had to always concentrate on where I was stepping on not to misstep and trying not to have any injuries. Some hills I had to climb were quite steep, but I still managed to get to my destination and what a compensation of all the efforts – I saw the very first sandy beach up here in the northernmost place there is. Quite a magical place I could say. And from the northernmost place looking down was a spectacular view of the sea washing up some interesting rock formations. All in all – it was definitely worth it. After a half an hour of appreciation and all I turned around and went back. That day after a few more hours of hiking back in a more easy route this time, I again stopped for the night near one of the so many lakes in those hills. Being all alone there had a very nice feeling.
Next day I finished the remainder of that easy route back, which took me 8 hours compared to the initial 10 hours of random hard route that I went first by following just my compass. When I got back on the road I texted to the information center that I’m back and safe. To which they replied happily thanking me for informing them. While hitchhiking the rest of the day I got to Lakselv, where I got a lift to Alta, where I was later invited to stay for the night. Furthermore I was dared to take a swim in Barents sea. Then it was already late in the evening around 10 or 11 pm. Well I took up on that dare and did just that 🙂 After a short swim when I was still drying up on the shore an aurora appeared unexpectedly in the sky, so for the first time now I could enjoy that kind of view. Later I had a chance to wash myself and my clothes as well. So it was refreshing after two days of intensive hiking. And of course I took the chance to write some stuff about this trip here. Next destination will be Rambergs white sandy beach on Lofoten archipelago, which is famous for it’s natural beauty in Norway. Anyway, now I’m moving South… more or less. I will post all the photos and some trip statistics when I’ll be back home. Too lazy right now to work on it 🙂
Hitchhiking to northernmost point in Europe 2012/08/17Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.
This Saturday (August 18th) I will be setting of for a hitchhiking trip to Cape Nordkinn in Norway. The tip of that cape is a northernmost land based place in mainland Europe. I have 3 weeks in my disposal for the trip, so I’ll try to get around Scandinavia overall if possible. It’s been a while since I last hitchhiked abroad. Hope to have a good time. If there will be a chance to update the blog I will do that on my way, but ultimately I will do that when back home in Lithuania.
Corpus Christi – Vilnius ~ 5550 km 2011/04/08Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.
Continuing from Corpus Cristi me and Canadian Sylvian went along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Generally it was a boring trip. Sylvain didn’t hurry to Florida, so sometimes we stayed whole day doing nothing, but walks around some random town along the coast route. It appears so, that having a dog really attracts a lot of attention to you as well. Helped a lot to stike the conversations with some random people. Not that I was interested in that. It was more of a Sylvain’s ground there. From Texas we got to Louisiana and the only more or less special memory of it was oldish Lafayette town with wooden and brick buildings, so unfitting in general majority of US houses. Then it was Mississippi, where we stayed a couple of days on a long man-made beach at Gulfport and surrounding areas. That was second such beach I saw after Romania’s Mamaia one. Not the man-made part, but overall shape and color. One day and night was spent at the harbor parking just beside the beach. While being there I saw a bunch of dead fish washed ashore, as well as a dead stinging ray and a rather big stinking turtle that crawled onto the beach and died. Dolphins (alive) were present in waters around as well. Next morning we had an unpleasant earful from a harbor patrol officer, telling us it was against the law to park there during the night. We didn’t want to ignite any more anger, even though just yesterday another officer we asked about staying overnight okayed it. So we packed up and left the place. One other thing I did in the area immediately that day was finally exchanging pesos I had left from Mexico. Really, it is quite an ordeal just to find a bank doing excange operations overall, but what killed me was the fee. Out of my exchange value in dollars after the talk with a bank worker I thought the fee being 3.71$, but how surprised I was getting just those 3.71$ and bank keeping 20$ as a fee 😀 Stupid mistake, but still when I think about it, there was no place worse anywhere in Latin America or South-East Asia, with such kind of fees. Just for the record to anyone wondering name of the bank was Whitney National.
After getting rid this way of those pesos we went on to Alabama and as I planned I got off in Mobile city to continue on by myself. It took me a considerable amount of time finding my way out on 43’rd state highway going North, but then I was picked up by africanamerican guy Marshal, who treated me to a beer. Since it was late in the day he offered to drop me off back at Mobile to spend the night at Christian Shelter. Thus a new experience. Place was strict enough to feel safe. I had to leave my backpacks in the lobby guard area. After hearing Pastor talk in the Sanctuary, everyone went upstairs where the dorm was. That was also another chance to have a shower. In the morning I phoned Marshal and he brought me back on nr. 43, where I got a lift, which still landed me on I65, I decided not to go against the flow to much and just hitch off that interstate highway ramp. Had a few short rides and then had one long one all the way across to North-Eastern end of Alabama. That day there were quite a few tornados wrecking the state. I did see thunderstorms and showers, but ‘lucked out’ on skipping tornado thing. Originally I was riding in the back of a pickup, but when driver heard about the bad weather coming our direction, he stopped and made some space for me in the cabin. I was treated to a bunch of snacks and even given some stuff like germ-killing lotion and sunglasses, which I badly needed since I lost my half-broken ones somewhere. Shortly we got all the showers and thunders and eventually were stuck in a jam for 3 hours, caused by a 4 car accident with some people killed. It was really different from some jams I’ve seen in other countries. You could see people playing American football over the stopped cars or practicing golf on the shoulder of a highway. After we moved it kind of appeared to wife of the driver that they could have been one of cars in accident if not for those couple of stops. In Fort Payne I was dropped off and spent my first night in probably half a month sleeping in a tent again. It was fine, since all the 50-something mile per hour winds have passed already that area I was dropped off at. And showers with thunders wasn’t anything special.
Since it was Sunday, I rather naturally ended up at Church next day. I was picked up by Gary and Sonya, who where bringing a bunch of kids to a Church in different town, which was Jasper in Tennessee if I’m not mistaken. Didn’t ever expect to see people play guitars and drums while worshiping in a Church. They sure know how to make it fun out here. I got a very nice Bible from the Pastor. Some good stuff to read again – thing is over 1800 pages thick. Overall this part of US has quite strong Christian community or at least this is my impression after being picked up by a considerable number of Christians, which really helped me to go on with my trip without getting off the highway to go walmarting for cheap food. Reminded me a bit of Indonesia, where I was often treated to the meals and went on like that without visiting any town or city on the way. Well, I am going back home and my sightseeing enthusiasm is only good for random places I just naturally end up on my way. So this works out just fine by me. It is really great I am getting to see this part of US, otherwise my impression would be considerably worse. It is veeery different from any other country in the way what you see on the streets. You don’t see people at all, just cars… unless you go to some walmart or what not. You can be in a town having 100-something thousand people population and still think of it as a ghost town.
With a few short ones and one truck lift I ended up in Statesville, Tennessee. It got quite cold after I crossed Apalachian Mountains. While trying to get a lift from the ramp for some hours I got treated to a coffee by some guy working at the gas station nearby. Then I decided to drop the hitching thing for a day and go to a library. While checking flight prices I decided to skip going to UK, since it appeared to be much cheaper and easier to fly directly to Germany, than do an indirect flight via Iceland or that same Germany. So my trip time got shorter once again. For now… Getting out of Statesville proved to be difficult. I had to walk a few miles to another exit and try my luck again. There I met an old guy trying for a third day to get a lift. After an hour I tried another highway just nearby, but seeing it was only people driving localy back and forth I went back. Eventually we both got a lift in a pickup to some exit 40 miles to the North and were both treated to a meal at the Subway. That was my second time having quite a tasty salad out there, which I was tought how to order in my previous ride to Fort Payne in Alabama. Then there was a long 4 hour wait for a ride, which I got once that old guy went to get some water. Probably because the majority of the traffic was truckers naturally with only one seat available. Driver was a Mongolian speaking Russian, so we had an active conversation going. Guy actually have been to Lithuania in the past. After being dropped off at another interstate, this time nr. 81 I got another lift in a truck, which brought me to Winchester. Had to spend a night in the inside area of a circle ramp.
Winchester had a very unusual for US old town area, which reminded me a lot of some old towns I’ve seen in Australia. At least place had people, even though a small amount. When I went back to the highway it started to rain and snow a bit. Drivers pitying me were picking me up much faster than usually, treating to a meal or a coffee, giving a few bucks for the road… Nice going bad weather 🙂 Still it was really miserable to stand by the road, truth to be told, so when I again ended up at a truck stop place I stayed at McDonalds there, using their free wi-fi all night. Didn’t bother to look for a camping spot around since it was drizling non-stop. Feeling like a zombie I went outside at around 7:30 am. Didn’t even have to walk to the ramp, as a guy on the parking asked me where was I going. I got a short ride. And really I should have just stayed at that area near truck stop. This way I had to hitchhike a lot from many other locations, having only some short rides. Some people had very little idea about they themselves were going, so there came some moments when I again had to serve as a navigator for a driver. At least apart from the cold it wasn’t really raining today. Half asleep I finally got a lift from the edge of Pennsylvania straight to New York with africanamerican guy Edie. Luckily it was that only decent ride that I so badly needed to cross New Jersey state without stopping, as it had very strict law against hitching. New York was obviously huge and full of traffic jams as it was the end of working day. I didn’t have any plans for sightseeing and just went to airport. Unluckily counters of AirBerlin airline, which I planned to use, were closed for the day. Luckily I found free wireless in another terminal. Next day I got my ticket for Dusseldorf. And after two more days of living in airport I left North America. Flight was nothing special and customs went uneventfully.
In Germany I found out that I was missing my thermos from the backpack. Baggage handling apparently can cause some items to disappear 😐 After a walk out of airport and Dusseldorf city limit I got a lift with a Russian guy Victor, who got me around 100 km further on my way back home. Then I was stuck hitching from gas stations. Had another lift with a driver from Tunis giving me 20 Euros for the meal at one of those gas stations. Then I had a longer lift in a truck to a gas station near Erfurt and got a lift with a guy going 200 km/h to Chemnitz. After getting another short lift to another gas station I camped near it. Next day I had another truck ride to truck terminal at the border with Poland. There I was stuck trying to get a lift. Was worried a bit because yesterday I run out of my last food supplies with just a jar of jam remaining. Just as I decided to leave and walk to the nearest town town to shop, after 4 hours of wait I scored a lift. Driver was English speaking and eventually even invited me over to his parents place, where I had a dinner and showed pictures from my travel to his family. Ended up staying there for the night and had a chance to wash my head thanks to this. Next day I was brought to the road onto Poznan. That day I got quite far, almost to Olsztyn. And on next day I reached Lithuania. Had to camp out near Alytus though as it got dark by that time. And in the morning I completed my world trip 🙂 YAY! Took me just 406 days, 60150 km and 884 different vehicles. That’s that for now. Sometime later I will update that other page about the trip. For now I have other stuff to do… Thanks for following me during these 406 days, of which 404 days I was not found in Lithuania, lol.
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Before leaving Patzcuaro I got myself new shoes, since my old ones, which I got thanks to Murrey at Warnambool in Australia, got some holes in the padding by this time. It took me a long time as to get used to the new and cheap ones I got for 290 pesos. Had quite a few mazols and there was still a lot of walking to do through Mexican towns. After having a ride to Uruapan, which was next big city, driver gave me a copper bracelet, which he made himself – now I have some 5 things on my left wrist. From Uruapan I was heading to Zihuatanejo. At one time I got on this road with very little traffic, a car or two per hour. Thinking of finding some intersection with a more lively traffic I walked off into some mountainous place. Feet covered in mazols were hurting obviously, but the sight was worth it. The area I got myself into was some sort of reserve with those tree-like Mexican cactuses all over the mountains and heaps of praying birds hovering above at all time. I finally had a ride after a few hours of this kind of walk. Was dropped off in Arteaga town, where I lost my way a bit, but was corrected by police. Police by the way in Mexico is always in numbers – 5 to 9 of them with guns hanging off their necks riding on the pickups. Sometimes two or three of those trucks. So I was stopped by one of them and had a wave of questions in spanish obviously, which I was using somewhat well by now. I got to the edge of the town eventually and camped.
Next was three days hitchhiking along the coast to Lazaro Cardenas, following Zihuatanejo and Acapulco. Had one ride with a truck driver stopping by and dealing drugs. Luckilly it went without incidents. Not that I liked drugs being passed over my seat to other window. Oh well. All that police and army presense on the roads are not for nothing it seems. Doesn’t really work perfectly though. Spent a few hours at some nice beach before reaching Acapulco, which I passed as fast as I could and went on for Puerto Escondido, spent half a day and continued to Mazunte town. Which is a very hippie kind of place, with a nice lagoon and all, but I wasn’t lucky to arrive there at the evening, so I didn’t spend that much time out there and hitchhiked further. Next was Salina Cruz. Didn’t do much except for resuplying there and managed to get a long lift to Pijijiapan town, some 100 or so kilometers short of Tapachula and Guatemalan border. Driver treated me to some meal before reaching that place, which was a first in Mexico. Mostly because of me being vegetarian, since there were some others who were willing… Other than that I was being treated to mangos quite often. To Guatemalan border I got with residents of that country transporting cars and goods there. I had to squish inside the car already full of other stuff. Passing border was easy. But noone was there to forcibly point you to go there and there and get your stamps. Had to figure it out myself. Administrational fee at Guatemalan customs was 10 quetzals, which is a bit more than 1 US dollar. Guatemalan side was full of money changers and vendors. Just as I walked out of the border town I had a pickup lift. Got a few more and with the last one that day got almost to Esquintla, which is like a halfway between Guatemalan borders down South. Camped in the middle of sugar cane field and in the morning saw an amazing sight of three volcanoes surrounding Escuintla.
If Mexico had their police everywhere in large groups, here it was not just that. Walking through the main sort of a market street of Esquintla I was seeing a guard with a shotgun each two or three buildings, not mentioning stuff like banks or gas stations. I heard from some drivers allready that it’s not too safe around here and definitely not so in San Salvador, where I would be heading next. Compared to Mexico I saw that I would have bigger problems refilling my water here, because of it’s nasty quality. Environmental problems it seems are a common issue all the way in Latin America. While having other rides to El Salvador’s border I was doubting more than ever last days about the worth of my continuing the travel across Latin America. I liked a lot being forced to learn a new language and my progress in that, I liked the abundance of untouched nature, but I hated some other things. Measuring pros and cons in my head I stopped myself just before crossing to El Salvador, sat down and though it over more thoroughly. Thus I decided to turn around and start heading back to US and eventually Europe. After making this decicion I had no more doubts, but rather had some questions and weight lifted from my head. One could think of thousands of reasons once one has no will to do something. Or rather it is all those small things that eventually eat at you enough to change your mind. One of the main things though I’d like to mention is that I grew tired of seing trash on the roadsides everyday and I knew it wouldn’t change. Being on the road all the time I really prefer them not to be disgusting. Sightseeing is another thing, but more of a bonus of traveling this way.
Like this I hade a change of mind at the border of El Salvador and turned back. Got to the border with Mexico on the same day. Rides are comming along very nicely in Guatemala. Just before crashing in my tent, got showered while riding in the back of a pickup. I had to happen eventually… One other more nice aspect of pickup rides is that at the dark time of the day you can do some awesome stargazing if you lift your head up. The feeling is somewhat like a space travel, when the view is shaking and moving, while you go on your winding mountainous road. That definitely was a nice discovery here in Mexico, where I got back as easily, but had some troubles getting away from the border. Not so many people are willing to give rides in the opposite direction. Too many checkpoints on the roads and drivers see it as a hassle.Still I had a couple long rides which got me to Tuxtla Gutierrez. Now I was on my way to Palenque to see some Mayan ruins for once here in America. I saw some sort of ruins already though by the border on Mexican side, but nothing too grand. Something very similar to the stuff I saw in Malaysia at Bujang Valley. Driver and his friend who took me to Tuxtla were intending on me not continuing on to Palenque in the later dark part of the day since the road there is quite famous for roberies and danger overall. Oh, and before leaving Tuxtla I got to see a very nice canyon of the bridge. At the edge I found some power sockets at the service area beyond toll gate and sat down with the laptop to check some stuff on my navigation through the rest of the Mexico, to Palenque and from there to Monterrey.
Trip to Palenque was taking a long time as I was told by many drivers. Even though it was only around 250km away. Travel on some Mexican toll-free roads can take a long time due to frequent speed limiters or ‘vibradores’ and there are a lot of villages on the way in some places such as this route to Palenque. On the way I went through San Cristobal, which was a nice and cool town high in the mountains. Was funny seeing people in winterish clothing up there. When I finally reached Palenque I mistakingly camped on the military zone, good thing I was early leaving it in the morning as I saw the huge stend, which I missed due to the darkness the night before, saying it is prohibited to be on that territory. Ruins were like ruins, just Mayan. And obviously that place was trying to get money out of tourists in any way possible. I had to leave my backpack, which as they told me was too big, and yeah that sounded ridiculous since I wasn’t going in a tight place with precious pieces of history on every corner. So anyway, I had to pay just to leave a backpack at the entrance due to it’s dangerous size. I spent about an hour at the ruins. There were a few bigger and more or less grand structures just a bit away from the entrance and lots of small temples further around.
Later I was on my way to Monterrey along the North-Eastern coast. While I was passing Veracruz I was invited for the first time in Mexico to stay over at the driver’s place. I got to sleep in the back of a pickup – I guess that was supposed to happen sometime seeing how around 70 percent of rides here are happening in that kind of car. I would’ve been better off camping though, because this way I had to hide fully in my sleeping bag on that hot night just not to get bitten by mosquitos. On another day as I was hitching to Poza Rica I paid that fee for a permit to travel in Mexico. It took forever to convince people in bank to exchange my money to pesos I needed to pay that fee with. While having one ride like by some fate my hat flew off my head out from the driver side window. And that was at the time he needed to turn around and go back to help some friends in trouble. Thing was that I was dropped out in the middle of nowhere, found my hat and got a ride instantly with a three guys Jorge, Emanuel and Ricardo going to Poza Rica. I was invited to stay at their place. Ride wasn’t pleasant though as it was very windy weather and I was sitting high in the back of their pickup. It was getting dark and rained a bit. Another funny thing was that I tore my hat as I was washing it later that evening. I decided to take the opportunity to stay longer than just for the night and rest from excessive walking. So next day I followed these guys as they were working installing radio station in one company’s car and later a long antena on top of the mountain near this nice Xicotepec town with an awesome surroundings. Weather can be quite chilly up there, so it was a second big change like this in Mexico for me.
Later I was invited to come back to Villahermosa, where Jorge’s office and family home was. While there I was brought to this historical and zoological museum La Venta on one day and to another more spectacular zoo at Yumca, the best I’ve ever been so far. Not by the number and variety of animals, but the way a visitor is being led around there. There’s very little feeling to animals being confined too, since they have a lot of space in the territory, they are being kept in. After the zoo that day, I was also brought to a mass at Villahermosa’s cathedral. Now I remembered why I usually avoid any big events at that kind of place. Too many people… and this in a hot climate country too. A day later we went back to Poza Rica, which is around 10 hours ride away by the way. I spent a couple days there, before continuing with the trip. Jorge was very nice to drive me to the next Tuxpam town and gave me 200 pesos for the road. From Tuxpam I had a short lift with a long wait in a jam caused by a traffic accident. My next ride was with a Canadian guy Sylvain, who was returning with his dog after 4 months of touring around Mexico. So the ride I got was a long one. Might be all the way to Alabama. While crossing the border to US with him, we were hold up to do probably a mandatory x-ray scan of his trailer and continued on to Corpus Cristi on the next day. Other than that it was more simple than I was expecting.
Diamond Mountain – Patzcuaro ~ 2750 km 2011/02/25Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.
I’ve spent about a month and a half volunteering in Diamond Mountain buddhist community. Most of the time I was behind my laptop or helping a bit with building and packing provisions for buddhist retreatants behind the mountain. Apart from that I did a few hikes in the surrounding hills and mountains. Went to Fort Bowie Historical Park just nearby and to Chiricahua mountains National Park. One other hike I will remember for some time was to this abandoned marble mine with Joshua, Sierra and Dennis from the buddhist campground. Had a lot of fun out there that time. By the middle of February I was getting ready to leave. Although there was something that was holding me back for a little while. Like me oversleeping an early ride out of that desolate place our campground was in. Night before that had a halo around the moon by the way. But eventually I had to leave. And it really felt like a second home leave to me. Noone else with I had a chance to asociate as much as I did here on my trip.
On the first day of my leave I managed to get all the way to border town of Nogales on US side and spent a night beside a road in a tent. Been a long while now since the last time. The way I got there was through supposedly scenic route across Patagonia town. But I sincerely didn’t think of it as being scenic. Nothing compared to the one from Flagstaff to Sedona anyway. On the next day I got some food and a couple of gas canisters in a Walmart, not knowing if I’d have a chance to do that in Mexico. Crossing border was quite simple. But now I know I made a mistake while blindly listening to US officer who pointed me to go straight to Mexican customs. That is because I wasn’t checked out as leaving USA. That might really sour my return there later after my trip all the way down to Argentina in South America. On the Mexican customs side they didn’t even tell anything about the necessary to purchase entry permit. Good thing I had that researched beforehand and got it for 262 pesos or something close to 23 US dollars. Now I was in Mexico.
First thing I had to do is get out of Mexican Nogales, which took me long enough. Now I carry not one, but two backpacks (another’s a little one I have in front of me). First ride got me to a toll gate before Hermosillo, where driver asked the officer if I could camp beside the toll gate, which was allowed and so I did that very thing exactly on the side of a toll gate. Gave some laugh for all the drivers passing by through that gate I guess. Next ride got me to Oregon, which I left in a truck riding through the night all the way to Chapalilla town, where I was turning off to visit Puerto Vallarta beach city. That was a looong ride and good thing I got to sleep on the couch in the back of driver’s cabin. With a few rides I ended up in Puerto Vallarta and had some rest on the beach. City center was definitely interesting, and definitely too touristic for me. There was a nice boardwalk along the beach though. Lots of bizarre statues along it, sand sculptures as well. There were also some whales jumping out of the water in the bay. In the evening I tried findin South exit out of the city but could only see one way roads to the hills with all the hotels on them. Camped through the night beside one of the roads. Spent another half a day wandering and looking for that exit, but didn’t find. Bad luck not having any city maps on hands. Had a rest at the beach and did a looong walk back to the North exit. Not just through P.Vallarta but all the other ‘little’ towns of that unending urban area.
Got to hitchhike out of here only on the next day’s morning. After that I managed to get to Guadalajara with several rides. During last one I had to wait until driver did his buisiness with some folks in different places of that huge city. Luckily I ended up being dropped off closer to the edge of metrapolitan Guadalajara. Next came a couple truck rides, that got me to Morelia. I was heading now to Patzcuaro. Had a 4 hour walk across that city. Took a look finally into one of the Mexican supermarkets. Found it awesome how cheap their oranges and pastry is. Got a load of both. In the morning got a lift to Patzcuaro. And it so happened that I got to the center of the town exaclty as they were celebrating their Flag Day on February 24th, which happens to be when Mexico got independent in 1821. So I got to see some festivities around this nice old town, which I like the best so far of what I’ve seen in Mexico. Many thanks to Nick from Diamond Mountain for pointers on travel in Mexico. As I wandered around the center after the end of the ceremony I found this awesome library, the kind I’ve never seen before. I totally feel like in a church in it. Having some wireless here I used this chance to write some stuff on my blog which I also didn’t do in a long while. Oh and by the way, even it’s still 3 days short – it’s been a year since the start of my hitchhiking adventure – YAY! Greetings to all the friends and people who helped me to go on through all this time 😉
Once I hitchhiked to Auckland’s airport I was warned by some workers there that I would need an onward ticket from USA. I actually planned to buy one to Mexico anyway, but there was no counter of the airlines I wanted to go with at the airport. I tried finding United Airlines office in Auckland later, but had no luck as the person representing them wasn’t able to sell them and only ever did was to make changes to already bought tickets. Anyway, I decided to leave it to the luck. Flight was a dreadful 12 hours long. At US immigration I was asked a bunch of questions about my visit purpose, but nothing about onward ticket. So it seems I just got worried over nothing. Overall getting through the customs was quite a simple thing. After that came the question of getting out of Los Angeles. I got on a bus going to Santa Monica beach and walked from there to the junction before Malibu beach. Got a lift there in a pickup with 7 dogs in the back xD With another lift I got to Woodland Hills and walked up North to the number 118 freeway. That was for the first day in US. Next one was a hitchhike to Santa Clarita, where I stayed 4 years ago, while working at the Six Flags theme park.
Ride there came with a good treat of fishburgers 🙂 Stayed at that town a few days while getting some stuff together for traveling further – gas canister, new compass, map of California, etc. Problem was that the towns in US are even more spread out than Australia or New Zealand, so getting around takes a lot of time. When I was about to leave Santa Clarita on a dark rainy evening I was picked up from a supermarket by a bulgarian Zdravec, who later invited me over to his place to spend the night. Thus I avoided the rain problem. At his place I got to eat traditional Bulgarian meal with cheese – Banica, to play some chess and talk about the travels.
Next day I hitchhiked to Vasquez Rocks National Park, where I’ve been 4 years ago as well. While continuing from there I was warned by a cop not to hitchhike while he sees me… By this time I sort of got the hang of hitchhiking in California acording to the law, but cops seem to have their own opinion on this. I just walked further a mile and got a lift. With several rides I got to Inyokern and was picked up by Kyle and Ryan, who brought me to their friend’s place, where they were doing their jamm session that evening. I ended up staying the night there. It was a fun evening with some dart games, wii, etc. Next day I hitchhiked to Death Valley. The ride through the park was with Italian Lorenzo. A bit annoying and overly sociable dude, thinking too much of himself. In Death Valley I planned to see the Sailing Stones, but roads there had some nonexistent traffic. Lorenzo tried milking me for money for the gas, once I told him I might be going in his travel direction, which was Flagstaff in Arizona. I planned first to go for Yosemite, but roads there were closed because of the recent snowfall. Anyway I declined.
At the park fee collecting kiosk some cops again began the story about hitchhiking being prohibited, but it seemed like it really was so on the National Park territory. Because of that I was in a dodgy situation, unable to hitch to see those Sailing Rocks. Lorenzo then used it to ask for 10$ to drop me off out of the National Park. I still ended up withough giving that to him, but overall experience was sort of disgusting. From Death Valley junction I went up North to number 95 highway with old guy Denis. Stopped there at the rest area for the night and next day hitched a ride to Las Vegas, where I got stuck trying to get further to Henderson. But after 3 hours of hitching from the ramp I finally got a lift.
I spent a few days in Henderson and when was hitchhiking further to Kingman in Arizona a driver gave me 20$ 🙂 With another ride in a back of a pickup I finally got to Kingman, where a historic 66 route was passing through the town. This also was the very first place I saw those giant tall cactus, which are so famous in Arizona. I spent almost a week in Kingman and then hitched a ride on a No. 40 interstate in a truck to Flagstaff, where there was finally some snow. One night I went to sleep in a tent and in the morning woke up in an igloo. Everything was totally covered in snow, so it was a proper White Cristmass for me. And it wasn’t in the middle of desert as most of the places I was passing through.
Nevertheless on 24’th I decided to hitch south. After a ride and a treat of pancakes while on the scenic way to Sedona I got called from a driver in a car and offered a ride even further. That was U.J or Uncle John. We stopped by in Cottonwood for a tea and agreed for him to pick me up in the morning on the further trip down to Tucson. While on our way next day I was offered to go to this buddhist community far away from the big cities in the mountains, where they were volunteering in building a retreat for some people to stay in silence there for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days. I eagerly decided to go there and help with that. Even more so, as they had free food, wi-fi and showers there. The very first evening I had one of the most fantastic Christmas celebrations in my life among 60 to 70 of interesting people out there. The food they had prepared was all vegetarian and super delicious. Next few days I was volunteering at retreat cabins and domes construction work. Almost each evening there would be some sort of event and an awesome vegetarian dinner. Even without an event, there would be some good stuff prepared for volunteers in the yurt kitchen. One night there was a tripple wedding at the temple too. Although because of some retreatant meetings it was postponed to 3 a.m. It was a hilarious event in a way, since one guy has fallen asleep just beside the flower road prepared for the bride and groom. Inbetween speeches one could hear his snoring too x] On the 30th of December the retreat was supposed to start late in the evening, so there was another banquet, after which there was a walk to the gate with all the retreatants and their friends, families and those who was volunteering here. 40 or so retreatants will now separate from the rest of the world in the mountain cabins for more than 3 years to meditate and try to find a way for world peace through their inner self. For more info one can check the website of this project – http://retreat4peace.org/
I will stay here to help for a bit longer. At least as long as my permit to stay in US is valid. Provided I’ll like it here that much. So far I’m satisfied though. I get to rest from my travel, contribute to something meaningful and do some Hatha Yoga, which I’ve been practicing in the past. In nearly a month of hitchhiking in US I didn’t cover all that much of a distance as I could have if not for staying at some spots for a longer time. Even though it wasn’t all that active, people, whom I met on my way here and experiences I had, left a very good impression on me. I have to admit I was prejudiced about hitchhiking in US. But as always those doubts are soon shatered by the kind people you manage to meet traveling this way. The only thing I probably didn’t like was metric system here x] Oh, well, and overzealous cops, who aren’t even sure about their own laws on hitchhiking :]
This will be a last post this year, which has been the most exceptional I ever had. I don’t remember now what I wished for before it began, but I have little doubt that it didn’t come true. As far as I’m concerned I am living my wishes and dreams out. I wish the same to all of you, who has been following me on the pages of my blog this year. Have a good and happy New 2011 Year.
New Zealand: North Island ~ 2060 km 2010/11/28Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.
While crossing on a ferry to Wellington on North Island I finally saw some fiords, through which ferry was leaving South Island. Once ferry was in the more open area wind got too strong to remain on deck and I spent the remainder inside. Wellington was smaller than I imagined it to be as a capital of New Zealand. I’ve done some strolling around the CBD and then hiked up the Mt Victoria to have a better view of the surroundings. Leaving the city was in a way a headache, since the only road to be taken was a motorway, so I had to try hitchhiking from a bus stop on the edge of the city. Took some time, but I succeeded. Got to Paraparaumu that day. Next one I hitchhiked through to Upper Hutt. But that took a long time, since the road I chose was going through the mountain and was had very little traffic, not to mention that very narrow with just one lane. Anyway I managed to reach Upper Hutt by the evening. That town was the first one I managed to find a free wireless at the library and a very fast one at that, so I ended up staying there for a few days :] On the last one, while I was in the library, a nun came up and gave me 20$ saying she was backpacking a lot in her younger days and knows what’s it like :] Next stop was a Masterton, where I did some busking, but nothing much else. Same goes for North Palmerston.
After that I hitched a ride to Wanganui, and a driver Glen invited me to stay at his place that day, which happened to be Guy Fawkes day, when people in former commonwealth countries are celebrating the occasion, when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the parlament building, by putting up a firework display. That one we went to see late in the evening from the Durie Hill. Next day Glen guided me a bit around Wanganui: the same Durie Hill with it’s famous old elevator, the only one of a kind in the southern hemisphere (quite a shaky and fun ride by the way), Durie Hill Tower with a spiral staircase and an awesome view from the top, Art Gallery, Glass works Exhibition at Information Centre and the process of making various glass sculptures at the Chronicle Glass Studio. We also went to this Virginia Lake, where heaps of birds where roaming around and took a short hike around. Later as we said goodbyes I went for a bit to a library and then went out of the town. Passed that Virginia Lake again and discovered Winter Gardens, so took a look at them as well.
Another one stop was in Hawera town. Did some decent busking there and spent a few days before going to Dawson Falls on the Mt Taranaki. This was a third volcano that I climbed on this trip. I arrived to Dawson Falls in the evening and only hiked up to Stratford Plateau, where I camped for the night. Didn’t put the outer layer of the tent at first and just stargazed till late, saw at least a dozen of shooting stars too :] At about 9 in the morning I went on with the climbing. Took me an hour or so to get to the hiking track leading to the summit. Overall it wasn’t very physically demanding climb or anything. But it was my first time climbing a snowy mountain and I didn’t have the equipment for that too. For the most part it was very easy and safe, but the last bit was the most difficult. First because of the pebbles section and then the snowy one – no stable grownd beneath, so that was one risky endeavour. Still I clawed my way to the top. Literally so, since I was thrusting my hands into the snow as well not to let myself slip. Unluckilly the day was cloudy, so I couldn’t see any surroundings from the summit. Still, being above the clouds was nice as always. While getting down I slided from the summit into the crater valley, then it was a slow and careful descent on snow and pebbles, which was even more susceptible to sliping. As I got down to the road on North Egmont side I walked for several km and then got a lift from one of the New Plymouth residents – Justin, who later invited me over to stay for the night :]
I spent a day in New Plymouth and on the other one hitchhiked to Whakapapa village at Tongariro National Park. It took me 10 shortish rides to get there though and the last one was with a Latvian family :] Having some spare daylight time I decided to get on with hiking Tongariro Crossing track. Got as far as Mangatepopo Hut and camped there. Next day I was doing the crossing itself and when I reached South Crater, turned for the Mt Ngauruhoe summit. That was another volcano again. There were dozens of other people doing the crossing and summit climbs too. Somewhat irritating, since there were even some traffic problems on the track because of that, not to mention rolling stones, unloosened by other climbers from up the Ngauruhoe. Getting down from Ngauruhoe was much easier than any other volcano I’ve been to. Part of the way down I just slided on snow :] After that came spectacular Red Crater and Emerald Lakes, finishing up across Blue Lake in yet another crater and a long descent from all the volcanic massive down to the road. Which by the way had no decent traffic at all, only tourist busses picking up the climbers. So after doing 20-something km walk I was doing even more walking to the nearest town. Although I eventually lucked out and got a lift almost to Taupo town. Got treated to an ice-cream too x] Tired legs aside, my face was burning yet again, even all the day it was a pretty cloudy weather and the only times I was under sun exposure were the summits of some volcanoes, but that was more than enough to get a sun burn this time around :[ A day in Taupo and another in Napier, nothing impressive, nothing after all that hiking in the mountains anyway. A few days spent in Gisborne before hitchhiking along the east coast to Te Araroa.
On the way I stopped by the Tolaga Bay to see the historic wharf, which is the longest concrete one in the southern hemisphere. I also did a Cook’s Cove tramp there. Getting further to Te Araroa was difficult, since this part of the island was low on population and there was little traffic. I still managed to get there. But my last ride was unforgetable. Pickup car stopped for me and since there was no place to sit inside I was offered a ride on the back completely covered with large board on which a TV was fastened, so I had 1 meter of space to the very end of the car and having my arms stretched out to the sides I was barely able to hold on to the edges of the board with my fingertips. If it was anywhere else but New Zealand I probably would pass on this ride, but with roads being in decent condition I didn’t think twice. Ride was going through the hills, so road was very winding. Speed limit was 100 km/h and on every corner I was literally holding onto my life with my fingers not to slide off the car. It was only 24 km ride, but it lasted far longer for me. Anyway, after a while I even started to enjoy this, thinking of it as the best atraction I ever had (and this with me having experience of working at roller coaster park 4 years ago in California). In the end when I got off, my fingers were totally numb. I said thanks for the fun ride and all excited went to search for a place to camp. Next day I went to Whakatane turning back west along the northern coast. Spent a few days there and started my finishing part of hitchhiking in New Zealand heading to Auckland, from where I will be leaving to Los Angeles.
I’ve updated my page about this trip, since my plans for travel changed quite a while ago.