I was gasping, squinting in the dark. I seriously couldn't breath! I could slightly breath out but not in! Oh My God! Asthma attack!
I was so confused and scared. I was also boiling hot. Pepe's apartment was darn hot, nice but pretty hot. I think this coupled with the amount I've had to smoke recently made me freak out. I started breathing long but volumeless breaths. Trying to work all of this out in the dark.
I got my breathing under control and grabbed a glass of water. What was that!?
The next instant my alarm was going off at 9am. Lie IN! I checked to make sure my lungs would function properly and slunk off to the shower. Ah what a shower, just the right temperature, nice pressure, fresh cold water to brush the toothy pegs. Actual heaven on earth is Pepe's bathroom. Pepe's sofa was the first time I'd slept inside in 4 days.
We both got ready and I declared "Pepe! That was a lovely shower, now lets go and I'll get breakfast!" He took me to a cheap pub he knew of which turned out to be a Weatherspoons. Bloody old weatherspoons though. The building was older than Buckingham palace and the design for the Clifton Suspension bridge was decided in the same room as me tucking in to my bacon, sausage and egg.
We chatted a bit more over breakfast and walked around Nelson Street where the majority of the festival was conducted. Huge pieces were strung up at every turn. This piece of a black woman holding a baby was formed using parallel lines. Pepe said that this gave it a sort of 'Japanese Garden' feel to it. I think he was right and I'd never seen anything like this before.
It was time for Pepe to leave and we bid farewell to each other. I really needed to get out to the road and start flying my sign. I didn't know whether I was going to hitch home, south towards Bournemouth or anywhere. I thought I'd let the road decide.
I walked about a mile out of town to a petrol station and instantly spent 2 hours standing at the side of the road. There were plenty of cars passing, and they were only going about 20 miles per hour. I'd chosen a spot with loads of space to pull over, but no one was playing ball.
A guy approached and said "Listen mate, used to do alot of this back in the day, you'll be better off just up 'ere" I walked with him for 15 minutes whilst he told me about his days hitchhiking and that the spot he was taking me to was a gold mine. Plenty of traffic, slow pace and lots of room to pull over... Sounded just like where I was.
We got to a subway under a flyover and he pointed to where I needed to be. He'd already told me directions for how to get to his house if I had no luck, wanted to sit down, or even stay the night. A pretty nice bloke. But one who was drinking 'Special Brew' at 11:30 in the morning. Damnit Adam. Why do you get sucked in to this stuff!?
I stood at the sparsely populated, fast flowing section of the M32 with no suitable place for cars to stop. Mr Special had no idea what he was talking about. This was the worst place a hitchhiker could try and solicit a ride from...Ever! I trudged the 20 minute walk back to the Shell garage I'd come from. Lesson Learnt.. look for open cans of +7% alcohol before taking someones opinion as gold.
I stood for another hour and a half. Absolutely no one was even taking a whiff. I was holding a rather ambiguous 'East' sign as well. Nothing too specific. I gave up. I was tired, lonely and I wasn't sure of where I was going to sleep that night. A Megabus drove past and I wondered how much their £1 bus advert was true.
I pulled up the website and plugged in Bristol to London. I wasn't surprised to find that the journey was not a pound but was surprised at its cheap price. £5. I booked the 15:30 from Bristol town center, kind of ashamedly. It is a Hitchventure afterall and this was the first time I was going to PAY for any sort of transport.
The hitchventure is more about the free travel though. It's about meeting people, hearing their stories and experiences. One of the Spanish guys had said to me the night before at the Board Game night, "You can get a bus for £10". It was as if even to these CouchSurfers, who, I'd have thought would share the same mentality, the IDEA of hitchhiking was alien. This surprised me.
I used the remaining 2 hours of my stay in Bristol to check out the shops in Cabot Circus and soak up the glorious sun on a bench. The bus was on time and boarding was simple. I cosied in to my seat with Bob Marley in my ears, frantically googling on my phone for places to stay in London.
It was no use... For couchsurfing to work you need to be prepared and know what your doing weeks in advance. Hitchhiking doesn't lend itself nicely to Couchsurfing. You can never tell where you will be at any one time. Never knowing when you'll arrive somewhere.
I got to London and walked around Pimlico, admiring all of the very regal buildings. Wondering what scandalous behavior was going on inside those of the rich and famous.
I checked in with a couple of nearby hostels. Every where was sold out of the Large mixed dorms at £12 a room and wanted £50 for a twin private. I gave up. I walked back to Victoria and bought a ticket to Littlehaven.
I'd been away for 5 days, covered hundreds of miles and enjoyed every minute. It was an apt time to go home. The road had told me to go home.
I let on to Kerry, my girlfriend, that I was staying in London. "Don't sleep on the streets!" she pleaded. I played along, not telling her I was on my way home. I asked for a hug just as I got to the front door and she asked how she'd do that! "Come and open the door and you can"