backpack

DAY 4 – July 3 1995 – Monday

Posted here on: August 5th, 2011

 

If the clock here in the caravan is correct it’s 12:30.

To help me on the journey ahead and, to my eternal shame I’m stealing a miniature torch; the alarm clock; chocolate from the fridge; a knife; a small pan; a sleeping bag; a 1.5L bottle of ‘Limonade’ and a pen.

It’s raining again outside. I’m in one of the two bedrooms with the curtains drawn. I’m having a fag, then I’ll have a shower here in the caravan and then I’ll pack and hit the road, Jack.

o-----o0o-----o

After a very long walk to South West Paris, stopping for a while in some lovely gardens, I catch a metro the last few Kilometres for the A10 out of Paris. On the Metro is a young lady who smiles back at me. When we arrive at the last stop on the line and get off I try to find out the whereabouts of the A10 from her. She doesn’t know but we both try our best to converse with each other and she gives me a cigarette. When we part I walk off in a direction, hoping it’s the right one… It is.

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There’s nowhere at all at the beginning of the motorway where one can stand and hitch. So I walk uphill along the left side of the motorway, in a little gap between the crash barrier and a very tall concrete wall that seems never-ending for about 2 or 3 km.

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Eventually, I see a bridge over the motorway where I could escape but I need to cross the motorway to get on to it.

Crossing the motorway takes me about five minutes because of waiting for a gap in the speeding traffic.

When I do run across my body is bowing forward and the weight of my backpack sends me headlong over the crash barrier at the opposite side of the road – I land in a heap in some grass.

A bit of risk to your life (and surviving) is exhilarating.

I cross the bridge but stop halfway to admire the view of Paris from this high vantage point. On the other side I find myself in a village/suburb called Meudon. From here I find a turn off, or turn-in-to, rather to the A10 where I hitch for an hour or two…

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I’ve had no joy getting a lift. I did get offered a lift to East France but because I’ve planned to go to the West coast I turned it down.

So I go into Meudon to find somewhere I’ll be able to sleep. Eventually I find an area of woodland behind a small industrial site. After a bit though I decide to try hitching again and walk the km or so back to the ‘turn-in-to’ to hitch for another hour.

Still no joy.

In the end I’ve returned to my sleeping spot. I read some of my book, The Undivided Universe by G. Munro and crash-out with unusual insects for company.

DAY 7 – July 6 1995 – Thursday

Posted here on: August 5th, 2011

 

I sleep soundly. I awake in dew and having slid a couple of feet down the slight slope of the grass bank I’m on.

On the way back to the hitching spot one of the straps on my backpack snaps. I tie a knot in it. After a while of hitching I get a lift from a young man to Le Mans (“Le Mon”). He plays some good Heavy Metal and Jazz on a ghetto blaster on the back seat of his car. I don’t normally like jazz.

My next lift is from a man called Michelle who is listening to a classical music radio station. He drops me off God-knows-where but while there I visit a lovely big house and gardens. The house and gardens turn out to be private property though… I notice a couple of people sitting at an outdoor table and make a swift exit.

I go to a supermarket (Intermache) and buy some more bread, an apple and an orange.

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In the end I’ve got a lift from a man who (I’m not certain of this) ‘fancies his chances with me’… After several km he apparently sees that nothing is going to happen and stops to let me out. I’m now in the middle of nowhere…

o-----o0o-----o

Packet that contained the four fagsEventually Michelle drives past again… and stops to give me a lift to Chateaux, which is something like 20 or 30 km from Paris.

On the way we stop and go to a bar where he buys us both a beer. With some difficulty, due to our different languages we make communication and he tells me about his cocaine habit and his good friend who died from drug abuse.

At Chateaux we part as friends. He gives me the last four fags in his packet, the lighter and about 15F in change.

o-----o0o-----o

From Chateaux I get a lift from a man in a van who is also a friendly chap. He advises me to not wear sunglasses while hitching as people like to see your eyes before they trust you.

He takes me to the North side of Paris. From there I walk for ages through a district full of black folk, which is slightly unnerving as the night is drawing in and I’m getting a few hard stares being the only white person… I feel a bit like a Milk Drop in a bag of Maltesers.

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I walk along the A1 looking for somewhere to hitch but I’m just confused by a spaghetti of bridges. In the end I’m trying to hitch on part of the motorway (autoroute) in the darkness…

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In time I realize it’s hopeless because the traffic is traveling pretty fast and it seems like the drivers can’t see me until the last second.

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I end up walking about the regional suburb – a bit fagged and a bit shagged – looking for somewhere to sleep.

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I follow a map that you find on bus stop shelters to a large park but once there I can’t get in, thanks to the place being surrounded by huge walls and tall iron gates.

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Finally, I make my bed in the back yard of some apartments on a concrete path so that I will not wake up wet.