Not planning anything while traveling makes it possible to consider multiple options on the spot. For us, the choice was almost made: parades and music during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, LA or hiking and adventure in the Saguaro National Park, AZ. Don’t try to find any logic in that. All we knew was that we needed to leave Phoenix soon. We had had our share of McDonalds and expensive espressobars. Plus, we had bought everything we needed to get started with the real deal.
We dreadfully sought for a place to stay on Couchsurfing but good ol’ couchsurfing wasn’t with us this time.
Confetti and masks in the National Park it will be.
After a last McDonalds and tasty coffee, we quickly packed and were ready to hit the road.
We set up right in front of our favorite American Burger Restaurant (McD’s) with our artistic sign, looking for a kind driver to get us to Tucson.
Fellow hitchhiker, if you plan on hitchhiking through the US, there is one big rule you should follow that we’ve had to learn the hard way. Keep to your spot. A bit like Sheldon in his sofa, except that the sofa is a big network of roads. (cue laughter) And every corner of road is a revenue source for the homeless, desperate to get their bit of cash for the day. If you try to stand there with your hitchhiking cardboard and share their streetcorner without asking, be ready to see them get real mad.
A couple of angry words and uncomprehensive looks later, friendly federal agent Matt brought us 30 miles down the road to a truck stop where ex-gang member Ray The Mexican picked us up after two long hours of thumb-standing in the hot Arizona sun.
“Where are you going” would be one of the first questions asked. To which we would honestly respond that we’re not sure. But Ray had an idea. The event of the year was to be held in Casa Grande, near his house. We could even sleep in his yard!
A real, wild-west, rodeo fair. With cowboys dressed in spiky boots and leather jackets. I could already see myself cuddling up in my sleeping bag with a belly full of big fat tortillas covered in juicy homemade salsa.
But my big dreamy eyes quickly turned into nothing but dreams. There was indeed a fair to be held, but only a week later, and we weren’t going to wait in Casa Grande. That didn’t stop us to share some stories with Ray as well as use his backyard as our personal little tent spot.
Back on the road with our cardboard, this time for not even 2 minutes before a 19 year old -saved-from-jail-by-bribing-the-judges – Mexican smuggler and cartel friend picks us up in his 2 seat vehicule. Comfy ride I assure you. Though we can’t tell you what made us the least comfortable; the cramped up position we sat in, the stories about the cartels he was involved with or the big fat pig-like snorts he made every so often.
Most importantly, we arrived in Tucson. But where to now?