The Estonian Girl in Her Bras
You might wonder, how did they live there? OK, they might have installed plumbing and have water supply for shower and cooking, but where did they get fuel? What did they eat?
Well, they built a stove in the kitchen and gathered wood from the countryside. For food, ALL the food we ate was from dumpster diving! Yes! The nearby Salzwedel, a small town with a population of about 20 000 could throw away so much food that it could easily feed 100 people all year round, with a wide variety even.
During the gathering, every night an expedition team was sent to Salzwedel with bikes, bags and a small trailer pulled by a bike, to search different garbage containers for food and bring it back at about 2 AM.
When I was just chatting with some hitchhikers in the living room. People in the kitchen started dancing and were playing music really loudly. Suddenly a girl burst out of the kitchen and run to the living room, shouting: ‘Fire! Fire!’
I was about to run to put out the fire when she continued: ‘Let’s have a bonfire in the fields! Like last night! Yeah!’ Then she disappeared.
A fire in the fields? The air there was rather cold. Since it was almost the official end of the gathering, only one week left actually, many people were talking about leaving. What? I just arrived! So I immediately took it as my mission to persuade everybody to stay.
I went downstairs. One young girl in her bras and carrying some laundry came up to me: ‘Do you know how to use the washing machines here? It’s a bit tricky.’ I knew that although I just arrived one hour ago I had already been so well integrated with the energy here that I looked totally local.
I: Eh…… So, there was a room with washing machines?
I knew, at that moment the image of me as a ‘local guy’ instantly collapsed.
She did not answer me but simply said: ‘Come!’ Then led me to a dark room full of sheets, blanket covers and all kinds of dirty clothes. Buried deeply inside them were some washing machines. There was the smell of washing powder in the air but yet, there was no washing powder anymore, all finished and new powder had not been found during dumpster diving expeditions yet.
So yes, dumpster diving does have some downsides.
She: I heard we can use this one. This one works, but it makes a lot of noise. At night it’s better if nobody uses it. Should I turn it on? Will it finish before everybody goes to bed?
I: Eh…… I don’t really …… I really don’t……
She: OK! I will just turn it on. Whatever.
Then I realized that she was just talking to herself instead of me.
Then suddenly she realized that I was there and asked: ‘Oh, so you are?’
I: Wei, just arrived one hour ago, by hitchhiking of course.
She had a very peculiar accent, which resembled the accent of Kaisa and indeed, she was also from Estonia. Her name was Linby. Estonian names, like their languages were quite peculiar and rather difficult to remember.
She: You are going to the bonfire?
I: Eh…… I am hesitating, because it’s cold outside and I had a tiresome long day. You see, I can’t find a reason to go.
She: Me! Is me going not a reason good enough? Let’s go! Wait for me for 2 minutes, I will go upstairs to get my jacket. Just 2 minutes. Then she disappeared into the dark stairs, in her bras. Indeed, the evening cold air in the country, filled with over-enthusiastic mosquitoes would be too much for bras.
20 minutes later, she finally came down and was speaking to herself again: ‘Should I take also my scarf? Should I? …… I think I should also take my scarf.’ Then she disappeared again into the dark stairs.
20 minutes later she came down with a scarf and said to herself:’I can go now. No, the scarf won’t be necessary. It’s a bad decision.’ Then she went up again.
(Don’t take me wrong. I am not making fun of her here. She is a lovely person.)
With all her preparation which was almost ritualistic, I was thinking: this bonfire place must be really far from here then.
Then when I met other people who were going there, I realized that it was just 20 meters away from the building……
I went there and some hitchhikers already started the fire.
The Bonfire and the Taliban’s Prisoners
We made a circle of some irregular shape. Like every party, there was always someone playing the guitar. However, in our group, several people could play the guitar and Sam, a Dutch girl with African blood even wrote her own songs. She was a musician. The Germans played the official Hitchhiking song. Yes, in case you don’t know, in Germany there was an official hitchhiking song. It was wonderful!
The fire burned like fluid god, the chilly country air smelled of fairies and giants. We told stories of hitchhiking in Turkey, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and everywhere else in the world.
Stevie was an Austrian dude who had been hitchhiking perhaps for a decade. He was at almost every hitchgathering. Once he was hitchhiking in Kazakhstan. You know, the Kazakhs still largely kept their nomadic tradition. There were cities but in between cities it was largely nomad land. When he was there it happened to be the World Nomad Games. There was initially nobody representing Austria, but hey! Stevie was there! So he put up the Austrian flag and represented Austria in the opening ceremony.
His hitchhiking trip took a dramatic turn when he met this British guy who cycled all the way from the UK on a tandem bike! Yes! He was traveling alone with a tandem bike, which was for two people.
Stevie: So, why don’t you just take a one-person bike?
British guy: Oh mate! If I take a tandem bike, I can make friends and bike with them!
Stevie laughed. They thus became friends and decided to do a hitchhiking trip together in Afghanistan.
Yes, Afghanistan! They were really guys with enormous positive energy.
On their first day in Afghanistan, they met some unidentified people in plain clothes. who asked them where they were from. Hearing that they were from Austria and the UK, they were immediately arrested at gunpoint, all their things confiscated, both hands tied at the back. Then they were blindfolded and transported in a truck to some unknown destination.
They had no idea what was happening and nobody would tell them. It was much more than confusion. It was deadly scary. These people might be Taliban or Al Qaeda, or even ISIS! One thing was for sure, they were in big trouble! big big trouble!
Stevie: Well, at least we are tied together, so guess they would put us in the same cell!
British guy: Haha! Exactly! At least we won’t be alone!
After a long bumping journey, the truck stopped in front of a prison in a hidden location heavily guarded by armed soldiers. They were put into separate jail cells, so the prospect of staying together did not work out.
What stroke them the most was the fact that the soldiers there stared at them with so much hatred, so much that it seemed that they would eat them alive the next moment.
For a week they were interrogated again and again: ‘What are you doing here? What is your purpose?’ However, after a few days they were left alone.
Inside the cells there was nothing, no water, no toilet, no beds but there was the Koran! The condition was harsh but most of all, they were confused. For what reason and by whom were they arrested and thrown into this gruesome jail?
Days later they were released. An officer speaking English apologized to them. Then he told them the whole story.
Since Stevie had big beard and as we knew, there were many Islamic extremists from Europe going to the Middle East to join Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS, they were suspected and thus arrested. Those soldiers were from the anti-Taliban elite force. Their families were all killed by Taliban. That was why they had so much hatred towards them. However, after interrogation and investigation, they found out that they were really just travelers, so now they were released. The English speaking officer was the personal interpreter of the general in charge of this elite force.
After explanation, he then said: But don’t worry about those two weeks’ accommodation and food in the jail! It’s all on us!
…… So, were they actually supposed to pay for the ‘food and board’? 😀
The interpreter then said: to express our apology, the general has invited you both to stay in his villa for a few days, of course with food also on us.
So, with a few seconds, from forced couchsurfing in a terrible jail they were invited to couchsurf in the general’s villa!
What a story! and mind you, Stevie was not the only one in the gathering who was ever thrown into jail.
The fire was still burning like fluid gold and the good stories kept coming, and coming.
To be continued