Thursday, 5 June 2014

Beware the Hitchiker!

Unlike back home, hitchhiking is not uncommon here, in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. In fact it is almost an everyday occurrence: mothers with babes in arms, bags of shopping by their side; night-watchmen tired and weary, eager to get home; even hotel cleaning staff late for their early morning shifts; and the usual array of backpackers naturally. All can be seen roadside or at bus-stops, sticking their thumbs out, hoping to hitch a ride.

Within a few short months of us living here, DH had turned 'native' and was giving rides to some of the locals that he saw most days on the journey from Ocotal to Coco. At first the kids were horrified - this sort of thing would never happen in England when Mum did the school run!. But soon they would return home at the end of the day, and tell me of the security guards that they had given a lift to in the morning; or the old lady with the bicycle that they saw most days, struggling up the hill. To the three of them it shortly became a normal and generous thing to do, helping someone not lucky enough to have their own transport. 

Needless to say, the hikers in CR don't dress like this!!
 I however felt slightly differently!! 

What was DH thinking??? Had he never seen the yellow-raincoat clad hitchhiker in the Hammer House of Horrors TV series????? The episode called 'The Two Faces of Evil'? The one with the fingernail? I was about 9 or 10 when I saw it and it gave me nightmares for weeks: in fact I'm still wary of people wearing a sou'wester, as well as men with long fingernails. Brrrr, sends shivers down my spine!

But like most things, you soon forget your worries, and before long, I too was not quite so bothered about DH picking up the odd ride. These hikers would often share stories with DH, about their families, their traditions and their politics. Conversations would focus on the up-and-coming elections that took place earlier in the year, or about the problems in nearby countries. DH saw it as a good way to learn about the locals and their culture. A few would have a sob story to tell, which nearly always involved hungry children and DH giving them money for food. On the odd occasion, a ride would even ask what life was like back in the UK. 

The tale that follows is one that DH recently disclosed to me. Naturally the conversations took place in Spanish, but as you all know, my Spanish is not that great. So I took the liberty of transcribing the story into English: I thought it best to omit some of the swear words too - after all, this is a family-friendly blog!!

A few weeks back, just days after my accident, I was travelling from Sardinal to look at some building materials. I stopped to pick up a Costa Rican woman who was thumbing a ride.

DH: "Where are you going?"

TICA: "Santa Cruz Sir. I have just been to Liberia to take food to my son at the University there."

DH: "Well I am not travelling that far, but I can drop you in Belen."

We drove for several minutes, making our introductions. Being that I looked somewhat sinister (I was still wearing a bandage on my head, along with sunglasses and a straw hat), she interrogated me about the accident, how it had happened and so on. The conversation then turned to talk of our families:

TICA: "Oh, your wife is away? You must be missing her? And you must be in need of some...?" 

As she said this, she reached over and grabbed my crotch!

TICA: "Apuesto a que tienes un grande!" sorry, English speakers, translate it yourself!! "I need money," she whined "My family are hungry. 10,000 Colones (nearly £11) and I will give you a b*** j**."

A million different emotions ran through my head; alarmed, appalled, dismayed, shocked and startled to name but a few. I felt my face turn ashen as my blood drained away and my whole body turned rigid with uneasiness. I thought that I had picked up the devil in disguise! More to the point, I suspected I was about to be mugged; I had just been to the cash-point and had $300 in the glove compartment.  

DH: "Um-mm, no thanks," I spluttered, removing her hand from my lap, "I'm fine."

TICA: "But Sir" she continued, "I am poor and hungry. My family has no food and we need money. I will do anything that you want."

As we neared the crossroads at Comunidad, with the Tica continuing to make advances, I suddenly 'remembered' that I had to be elsewhere!

DH: "I am sorry, I forgot that I have to be somewhere. I will have to drop you here and you can then catch the bus."

TICA: "But Sir," she urged, "you said you would take me as far as Belen. I have no money for the bus. I can come with you now and then you can take me to Belen later."

DH: "No, no. I may be a long time. You must get out of the car now."

With great relief, she exited the vehicle when I pulled over. I sped off in the opposite direction to where I really wanted to go, desperate to be rid of the woman. 

Although the incident only took place over a several minutes, I have never felt so panic-stricken in my whole life. 

There you go, I was right all along!! Beware the hitchhiker! They may not be dressed in brightly coloured raincoats, but they can be treacherous all the same! 

Funnily enough DH has not picked up any hikers since. However, as I'm writing this, ES has enlightened me with some of his hitchhiking escapades!!!!! Think there may be words later.

1 comment:

Gabriela Bernate said...

What a nightmare! He told me about this in one of our