Hitchhiking the length of Washington – Christians and drug dealers


Overland travel from Canada to Guatamela.

Charlie Bonk
Mar 27 · 6 min read

When you’re hitchhiking you never know what to expect.

You could get picked up by an old Christian lady, or maybe they’re a drug dealer high on cocaine, or a man that admits he’s done meth every day for 25 years.

Who knows?

You never know who’s going to give you a ride, but that’s the fun. Think of all the weird and wonderful people you’re going to meet.

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I was on a journey to travel around the world without flying. I was two years in, and so far I’d made it from London, England to Vancouver, Canada.

I’d gotten comfortable here living in an intentional community in the city, but I was getting itchy feet.

I wanted to try to hitchhike down the west coast of America and it felt like there’d never be a better time than now.

I was fortunate and had a friend who lived in the same community as me that worked near to the border.

He said he’d give me a lift, so I woke up early one day and off we went.

He dropped me off and I went to walk on through custom control and start hitching.

This was harder than I thought…

With my big backpack, dreadlocks, and no real clue as to my plan I went up to the border security.

“Hello.”

“Where are you headed?”

“Mexico, I’m travelling by land.”

“Why?”

Border security ended up questioning me for over 2 hours, not believing or really understanding my journey. They searched through my iPad, and asked me again and again if I was really planning on staying in the States.

So what is this journey really about?

What was my aim?

Why didn’t I just fly?

I was on a quest to get to Mazunte, Mexico, to meet up with my friend Paula for Christmas.

I was going by land for fun, for adventure, and because I can’t justify the environmental damage that flying causes to go so far.

I love land travel, hitchhiking and long bus rides. You meet a set of truly unique individuals and get to see landscapes shift and change as you go through different areas.

It’s also a form of travel that often brought me to wonderful places that I would have never otherwise have thought to have visited. Hell, I wouldn’t be in the states if I could have just flown straight to southern Mexico.

Eventually, the border security let me through and directed me to where I could get a bus to start my journey.

Really I walked around the corner and stuck my thumb out…

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With my Santa hat on to represent the quest to Mexico for Christmas I got a lot of smiles from passers by, people seemed friendly.

Eventually a local old Christian lady who was on her way to the grocery store picked me up. She drove me just round the corner to a gas station and wished me luck on my journey.

Everyone seemed to be truckers or headed north so I asked in the gas station for any advice, if there was a better spot? The attendant lady was as helpful as could be, had a big old grin on her face, and suggested a better gas station just up the road.

I stood there for about an hour and a half with no luck, so detached my balance board from my bag and started playing around on it while holding my sign up to the drivers going by. Within 20 minutes a couple stopped for me and I hopped in. He was waiting on his application to join the border patrol. This took up to 3 years and ended in a lie detector test which about 60% of people failed. They took me to Ferndale, a student town, and left me with $15 and a great new hitching spot.

This was perfect, I was by a stop sign so people had to engage with me before driving off. I had lots of giggles with people dancing, miming and being silly. Within no time a student picked me up, but he was only driving 5 minutes down the road and left me by a petrol station. Here I got the nod from a fella before too long and went to jump in his car. As I did he said he had some weed and we could have a smoke, the perfect lift, or so I thought…

Once we set off it came to fruition that he’d just been to pick up a big shipment of weed. He then casually asked me if I’d brought any coke with me through the border. I told him that I hadn’t, which he responded by going into his pocket and taking out a big bag of powder. He asked me if I wanted any and passed the bag over.

He then started talking about how cocaine was ‘high class’. He informed me that he used to do a lot of meth when he was younger but was happy he’d switched to coke.

“So are you into gambling at all?” He asked.

“No not really, I get a scratchy now and again but that’s it.”

“You don’t like the casino or nothing, how come?”

“Well you know, I haven’t really got enough to spend on that kinda thing.”

“Fair enough. You know I had this friend who used to hitchhike a lot. He went all over the states. He used to use them truckers a lot. But you know them truckers? They’re on their own a lot so they do some gay shit.”

He paused.

“Anyway, this buddy of mine gets in a truck one night, and the driver asks him if he’ll wank in front of him for a bag of coke.”

“Wow… so did he do it then?”

“For sure he did, free coke are you kidding?”

“Wow… yea I don’t think I’d be down for that kind of thing, I’m alright without ya know?” I answered awkwardly.

Fortunately enough the ride was coming to an end, he was a nice enough guy but a tad intense.

He took me a decent distance past Burlington, where he dropped me off in some farmland in the middle of nowhere.

Surrounded by yellow pastures and snow capped mountains in the distance, in the middle of god knows where, this was what it was about.

The road was quiet though.

Very quiet…

A couple cars would drive by every 5 minutes and none of them wanted to give me a lift. The drivers here all seemed very different to the people I’d seen on the road earlier.

Big beards, and pure shock and confusion at seeing me with my red suitcase in their farm lands.

Eventually this eccentric fella stopped and said he could drive me just 2 minutes down the road to a better spot as he could see I was in trouble.

He’d obviously thought I was a girl when he pulled over saying ‘where ya going ma’am’, but that didn’t bother me, if it helped me get a lift then I was happy.

Now the place I had just been waiting was incredibly slow, so I couldn’t say this was the worst spot I’d ever been in, but it was close to it.

An empty petrol station, with no traffic, and scary looking people. Well, there was nothing to do but try my luck and I started asking people.

“You heading south at all?”

“Hey ma’am, are you heading south by any chance?”

“Excuse me sir, I’m trying to get a lift heading south?”

No one seemed to be heading my direction, or maybe they just weren’t up for picking up a random English hippy, who knows?

Either way, I was having no luck so I wondered down a road adjacent to the highway to see if I could find a better spot. If I could find a on-ramp to stand by I might make some more progress.

Another spot, still no luck, and many confused faces.

When everybody smiles at you, and waves, it gives you a great sense that you could get a lift any second. When they all look at you with deadpan faces or simply don’t look at you at all, it all feels a bit more hopeless. I was getting cold and the night was coming in so I went into a nearby Starbucks to warm up and use their internet….

Continue the story at https://link.medium.com/iF1uaURzd5

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