The long road to Lyon

Girona/Salt, Spain 7/7/2013

I am in a town 100km or so North of Barcelona. It was kind of hard to leave Chris, Anita, and Alisa! Such cool people and we really didn’t get to hangout enough.

Today I only waited 15 minutes for the ride from Barcelona -> Girona, but it is getting late here now and I had some trouble with la policia on the AP. I am on the hunt for a bush to sleep in, but I stopped into a bar for a caña and I bumped into the guy who gave me a ride. He’s Moroccan, pretty nice, not exactly showing interest in putting me up for the night, but I am going to wait it out for a couple beers just to see if he’ll offer. I want to go and try to hitch more, but when I walked to the AP a bit to check it out I came back and a French couple were at the spot. I find it really awkard sometimes meeting other “tramps” in a situation like that, when we are both trying to get the hell out of a town like Girona. Hopefully they will be gone in the morning. They were kind of jerks. I just let em have it cause what’s the point arguing at 8pm over a spot the cops are already harping on? “Life magnified,” I feel bi-polar. I take so much comfort in my cañas, though. Only I cant afford many more..

Lyon, France 7/9/2013

A very interesting and exhausting hike it was from Barcelona -> Lyon. The Moroccan guy ended up getting me a bed after all at his hesitant brother’s place. A small, dirty apartment in Salt, with about 6-7 other presumably undocumented, middle-aged Moroccan men. They weren’t terribly excited to see me, and didn’t speak any Spanish, but I just fell right to sleep, woke right up at dawn, and went back to the hitch out spot. The French jerks were gone.

In an hour I caught a ride to Figueres, right near the French border. 10 minutes after that I got a ride from a trucker to Montpellier. 10 minutes after that I was picked up by Youssef, another French trucker who spoke really great English and “picks up everyone he sees.” He was really stoked on me being American and even called his wife who also drives a truck to brag about it. It was a good day hitching, moving  strong until I got to Orange. Youssef let me out at a pretty great spot, but I couldn’t get a ride and a storm was blowing in. Then a young, hippie-lookin Mexican kid showed up. It was his first time hitch-hiking. Silly kid had to be on a plane from Paris the next DAY. He said he thought it would be easy and got freaked out when I told him I’d probably sleep outside. I had mixed feelings about it, but he wanted to bag a ride together and he seemed a little shaken up so I agreed. At one point he was off to take a piss and this BABE pulled up and in English said, “just get in.” I swear to god. Then he came waddling back and I was all “oh but I got this bro with me,” and she didn’t have room for us both and pulled away.. out of my life forever..

The storm was on top of us and it looked real real. I took a chance and spent 17€ on a 40 minute train ride to Valence. FUCK RENFE. I tried to sneak on for free, but hippie boy blew it for me. Now I am down to 13€ and in a not great mood. The day had started with such hope! Now I was on a RENFE train, half my money spent, and it was pouring rain. 100km from Lyon.

Things change so fast, “life magnified.” I was seriously almost upset until we got to Valence and realized I was in yet another beautiful French town. A guy met us at the train station, took us to buy some hashish, we went to a park overlooking the town in the valley with a gorgeous Château on the other side, and fireworks were going off while we got high.

We stayed at the family’s house of the Mexican kid’s friend, a black guy who lived in South Africa for 7 years. He spoke great English and had all the usual questions and jabs about U.S. culture, politics and foreign policy. I humored him, I like him, and I think he understood my opinion of the place. We agreed that McDonald’s was gross, fuck Obama or any other president, NWA is tight, and Sam Cooke is the best of the best of pop music.

Today I woke up at 10 am, went to an awful spot to hitch, caught a ride from an uptight French woman in under 5 minutes, and now I am in Lyon looking for the pitch. Neeeeed moooree €uroooossssss……… 12:30pm

I will see Antoine tonight! We will get drunk, I know it.

Hitching in Spain, making friends, la Policia, Barcelona

Barcelona 7/2/2013 (?)

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Patrick made me a new sign

It’s Tuesday, I know that much. Madrid was great. I made good money busking, so much to where I really feel like I can relax, buy food and beer, really enjoy myself. I played in Plaza Mayor and Parque Retiro mostly, and also Sol (where I was often hassled by pigs) and El Rastro on Sundays (where I would make the most money and sell out of CDs for the week. I had a great time catching up with my good friend and old bandmate Chris and his new wife Rocio.

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One night while busking in Mayor I met Martina. She is a 23 year old Italian artist and roamer, she’s really sweet and speaks pretty good English. She asked if she could dance and I said “of course.” She had her pack on at 11pm, so it was evident she needed a place to stay. I took her back to Chris’s  house and 2 days later we set out to hitch to Barcelona.

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Busking in Plaza Mayor

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Martina and I at the Palace in Madrid

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We made it to a huge stop on Autopista 2 just before dusk and made camp in a wheat field behind the gas station for the night. This was ironic because she is gluten-intolerant.

The next day we stood thumb-out, talking to people, trying everything for 11 hours at a huge gas station while hundreds of cars just breezed by us. Hitching in Spain is notoriously difficult, but this was ridiculous. By the end of the day it looked like rain and I was pretty pissed. I decided it was worth it to get a room and we used a carpool service online to find a ride for the next day. Money-spent-lesson-learned, I will never try to hitch East out of Madrid again.

I have been in Barcelona for two hours and I love it already. I met Lydia on the ride here. A very nice, pretty, 25 year old Polish artist and graduate student. Crazy good English.

Barcelona 7/5/2013

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Martina, myself, and Lydia at Park Güell in Barcelona

Still here, even after a terrible experience with the pigs. I had a nice crowd on La Rambla, it was going really strong just 2 songs in. They (3) pulled up, very rude, shut me down, hands on their weapons, berated me, took my passport, and threatened me with a 300€ fine. After some asking around I learned that unpermitted musicians were being shutdown everywhere, often times they were confronted with a fine to pay on the spot, and if they couldn’t pay it their instruments were taken. I did meet one guy who just said “fuck no, fuck you,” and walked away and he didn’t have any problems. I can’t risk that, though. I’m not trying to beg my way across Europe.

I am staying a little out of Barcelona, in the Chinatown, with a bunch of skaters and graphic designers. It’s really cool. They remind me of my skater friends growing up. I hang out mostly with Chris and Anita from Vienna, whom I met on the street. They are really nice and really cool and speak perfect English. They travel a lot and share a dissident, anti-capitalist perspective. We hang out in the park all day and roam the old town all night. Last night we went to a squat they had found like a week ago called “The Rabbit Hole” or something and we went in and had some for-donation beers and jammed with some Catalan squatters. I played a couple of my songs too. It was awesome! Anyway, great company, and they help me find this place I am staying at. In 2 days I hitch north back into France, through Lyon, and into Switzerland.