Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hitchhiking in Puerto Rico

Before comming to Puerto Rico I was making some survey. The same one as I did before comming to Brazil.
I consulted google for some hitchhiking advices, articles and videos and didn't find anything reliable actually.
I found very short video about two guys getting picked up too happy and some creepy article how 2 guys were picked up with someone drugged (this could happen anywhere).
Then I just simply put a topic in the group of couchsurfing of Puerto Rico and people started to lift their fingers and do bu bu bu to frighten me. As far as I know,people in the districts with higher rate of criminality somehow always use to be more paranoid than the others. I got said that I will surely get raped,killed and put in the pieces and dumped in the open sea to be eaten by a sharks.
In that moment I said to myself - let's see :) This can't be that bad.
In the Island of Puerto Rico which from one side to another has about 180 km and from north to south about 60 and population of 4 million of people,making it one of the most populated islands in caribbean with good road infrastucture the things can't be that bad.

Puerto Rico outside of San Juan has almost no public transpot. I heared that there exist some public cars how they call them - Carro Publico - but I have never actually seen them, as well as if u go to the bus stop, you can easyly spend there all day and I can guarantee you that no bus will appear.
The only transportation company which generaly operates around the island is Linea Sultana and especially in the western part of the Island. I have never seen them actually either.
And Carros Publicos should be something like Taxis - you call them and they should appear, I taked to some people who used to use them and they claimed them to be extremely expensive - for about 3 km you pay around 5 dolars.
Linea Sultana - should look like this,but I actually never seen it
Other thing is that every Boriqua - how people from Puerto Rico call themself,has a car. There are several cars in the family,sometimes each person of the family (and I am not exagerating) has his own car.
So what is another option for someone who comes to the country and doesn't want to hire a car and is low cost traveler to do?


In Puerto Rico they say "viajar del pon" or "pedir el pon". I am already here about one month and something and I am hitchhiking daily everywhere. Let me explain you :)
At first I hitchhed from San Juan direction to Arecibo, where I got picked up by amazing funny guys from Bayamon itself who invited me to eat and were explaining me million and one thing around the island.
They accualy were going to buy some dogs in the central part of the island,but they ended up brining me to Isabela (where I had a host already),giving me a small gift for my keys which I still have with me and lots of hugs :)

And to be continued

Now I actually lied to you. The first time I hitchhiked in Puerto Rico was one of the first days on Island when we decided with Katie - another couchsurfer who was staying at the same host with me in San Juan that we will go to Younke and come back. We got a ride there by the parents of our friend from San Juan and back we were just walking down the slope - I have put my finger up and here we go - 5 minutes waiting time.

Here comes the proof.

We hitched the Haitians living in Maiami :) Who were so nice to bring us to Luquillo to the beach. From where we managed again in 0 time,when the night was approaching to hitch another ride with one couple heading to San Juan - actually they haven't been going to Santurce,where we lived,but just on periphery,but they took us almost in front of the house. Unfortunaly I don't have any video from this as the girl in the car haven't feel confortable with me filming. (Many times people doesn't let you to film as they have several girlfriends/boyfirends,who they don't want to find out that they took another woman with and be online).
I have actually never been given lift here in Puerto Rico by a woman,even though that they many times express their admiration for my courage and even one gave me a beer (not a lift),when I was hitchhiking at night from Mayaguez to Isabela running around the gasstation.

I tried to hitchhike as well in a couple with a guy (as I was told by other guys who tried to hitchhike in Puerto Rico and claimed to be very difficult and dangeorus),my friend from Colombia,living in Mayaguez - Gabriel.
The waiting time was bit longer - it wasn't anymore 5 minutes - it was around 20 for the first ride from Mayaguez to Cabo Rojo and 10 minutes for the second ride. But still I see it like amazing waiting times for a hitchhiker :P

Here comes the proof:

I hitchhiked as well in the island of Vieques (Small Island which belongs to Puerto Rico, which is about 2 hours by ferry from Puerto Rico itself and it  costs just 2 dolars to go there - definitely recomended) to get to the Ferry - got ride immediately I put my thumb up and the person dropped me very close to the place where I needed to go,having a short and nice chat,saving me 5 dolars for the Carro Publico - which in Vieques works somehow,but I didn't find out how it works to get from Esperanza - other side of the island to the Isabela II,from where the ferry goes. It's about 5 miles. 

I hitchhiked as well in the island of Vieques (Small Island which belongs to Puerto Rico, which is about 2 hours by ferry from Puerto Rico itself and it  costs just 2 dolars to go there - definitely recomended) to get to the Ferry - got ride immediately I put my thumb up and the person dropped me very close to the place where I needed to go,having a short and nice chat,saving me 5 dolars for the Carro Publico - which in Vieques works somehow,but I didn't find out how it works to get from Esperanza - other side of the island to the Isabela II,from where the ferry goes. It's about 15 miles.

I have even hitchhiked inside of Area Metropolitana of San Juan - which is considered as the most dangerous place of the island - I can tell you that it wasn't easy and people dont stop very much,but I was lucky to find this guy who dropped me on the exit of the area Metropolitana in Bayamon:

Hitchhiking over there wasn't that dangerous,just the people go too fast and they tend to overlook you,even having your hitchhiking plate etc.It's easier if you are on some gasstation close to Expresso (The only highway in Puerto Rico and ask a bit around,talk to people).

Truly sincerely I can't tell you much about it,as I did it just twice till now and never had any problems,even though that sories became much more interesting and people as well and getting a ride especially around Mayaguez at night was quite difficult even though I moved then to gasstation,where I asked the people directly. As they mainly refuse to talk to you or feel scared or affraid or shy,it's quite complicated. But what I can tell you for sure is that you have a higher chance to meet drunken or drugged driver. Remeber - no public transport and everybody like to have a beer or a small drink after work :) I personaly prefer not hitchhiking at night in Puerto Rico (but that is my own feeling,you could have diferent and I would be happy if you share your stories).

And then you ask WHAT ABOUT POLICE? In USA it's forbidden to hitchhike and Puerto Rico is incorporated Teritory of USA. How is it then? Is the police interested in you trying to hitchhike (viajar del pon). Truth is I have never got in trouble for that in Puerto Rico,they just seem to ignore you and let you hitchhiking wherever you are,even though it would be Express (the highway), where I got picked up by this policemen out of service at that moment.

He was extremely nice and even though he was going just to Luquillo,he took me to Fajardo at the end  to manage to take a Ferry to Vieques - picking me just one hour and a half before the ferry had to leave somewhere around 70miles from Fajardo itself :) Thanks again.
Yesterday I was picked up as well by already pensioned police officer of New York City,could make a video as teh battery of my camera was already flat. Sorry,guys.

Then you ask me,WHAT ABOUT THE CRIME (that huge crime rate what everybody is talking about). In comparation with South and Central America Puerto Rico itself doesn't have that much high rate of crime as many people paint it. You hear on news and tv about stories as someone was shot etc,but in general the crimes are related to drug smuggeling,drug selling,inapropriate reaction to some situation of the person,getting to the places where you can wait to have some crime (like burthels,streets of prostitution,dangerous neighbourhood,where there is a drug bussiness - sell/buy/kill, or just crimes of the passion - like killings of wives in the fight/ beating up a small child to death for crying too much etc. So if you have a bit of common sense you should be fine.
I am hitchhiking every day here,as I don't have a car. Inside of small towns,outside of small and big towns and between them.

So if you see me somewhere around with my thumb up - please, pick me up :)
Maybe we can learn something useful from each other,or just exchange some amazing stories! Everybody has some!
 And if you are already in Puerto Rico and you don't know if to hitchhike or not, just don't be affraif,people mostly exagerate too much :P But sometimes they have really good advices for hitchhiking spots itself ;) Which you can check on my another post: (thanks to Marcos)
Enjoy the Enchanted Island and your freedom! :)

P.S.: All the videos mentioned in this post should have english subtitles - just press the small button of youtube channel to add them ;)

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to hitchhike from San Juan - Puerto Rico - Direction to Arecibo,Mayaguez,Aguadilla,Isabela

I moved lately to carribean to make some diving courses and my first stop was San Juan. This time I came by plane flying from Frankfurt direction to San Juan.

I was warned several times by the people that hitchhiking is impossible here in Puerto Rico. And trough my 2 weeks experience here on the island I found that this claiming is absolute nonsense. As there is almost no public transport on the island hitchhiking is very easy and most of the people are very helpfull.
Despite high paranoia of the inhabitants of the island and claims of high crime rate till now I didn't have any singl enegative experience and in comparation with South America you will find here just extremely nice people with a huge amaount of curiosity and will to laugh and help. The waiting times are bit bigger than in other places - but I never crossed the line of 10 minutes of waiting,even though we have been hitchhiking 2 people.


And now exactly how I got out of San Juan and the recommended get out way :)
Take a metro in San Juan direction to Bayamon.

Estacion Bayamon

Get out on the last train station called Bayamon. Bayamon is not anymore San Juan even though it's considered more or less satelite city.
The ticket cost $ 0.75.
Funny price for such a good service and such a distance. But most of Boriquas doesnt use public transportation - as everybody has it's own car.

Estrella del norte

In Bayamon - you just get out of the metro turning to the right on the exit, go down the stairs - passing some college and there you will get to one intersecction. Turn to your right, cross the road.

And there you will see this kind of thing with a name Estrella del Norte - Star of the North.
Avenida Bobby Capo
You cross the road again to get to the Avenida Bobby Capo.
Stay on the right side of the road.
The road you happen to be standing on is the Road number 2 and this road leads directly to west side of the coast. It's not a highway,even though it's looks like one and it's for free so many people take this road.  And because it's not highway you can stand freely on the safety line which is wide enough for cars or trucks - it's much wider than in Europe. And in Puerto Rico all the roads has this line.

And here come the video - where you can see exactly how the spot looks like and you can find it as well with english subtitles :)

I haven't waited more than 10 minutes on this spot to get picked up. It's very good spot,as the cars are going very slow,because of the trafic-lights just at the beggining of this road. And if you have a paper where are you heading to the success has a very high percentage. In case of the rain - there is a bridge under which you can hide at the same time hitchhiking.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to hitchhike from Madrid (Spain) direction to Barcelona/Zaragoza/Pamplona

It's quite easy to catch a ride from this spot if you follow the isntructions correctly, at least for me. Normally it wouldnt take you more than half an hour to get out from this spot.I had to figure out this way going trough several posts on and try them out and actually they havent been that acurate. So I will explain you my way, which for me always worked pretty well.

Step 1:In Madrid you have to get to cercanias lines - the short distance trains which are going around the Madrid.
If you get to cercanias anywhere out of the center you can enter many times for free, but I am not going to explain you how ;) I think you will figure out if you live enough time in Madrid itself or just watch people getting around ;)

Step 2.: Get to the train going direction Guadaljara or Alcala de Henares. If u are not on that once - get your self to main trainstation in Puerta de Atocha or shortly said Atocha and change for this direction. There are the lines C2 or C7.

Step 3: Get out from the train on train station called San Fernando, there is no turniquet to check the ticket to go out, so at the end it wasnt necessary to buy a ticket,either I always buy one - as I have many friends who got caught trough the controls in the train - even though I havent. The ticket now could cost you about 1,7euro.

Step 4: Once out of the train station go to your left and the you will see the road going down the railways - there is the pedestrian tunel to cross to the other side of the rails. Go there. As you appear on the other side just go straight ahead, follow the road - you will see on your right some small block of flats and some bars where lately they had really good sandwiches for crazy price like 1,5 euro and really really big once.And on the right side you will see some huge store with furniture,which is annoucing that they didn't increase the prices because of IVA.
Then you will already see the sign for Zaragoza - thats the correct way,go around the round-about, ignore the exit to the something which looks like highway your way, but isnt. Go straigh ahead - being on the right side of the road, you pass 2 family restaurants,where everybody will greet you and keep looking  at you as you were crazy :) Just smile and wave :) Then you will see that the road is going down - its exit for the highway. You can start hitchhiking there with your sign, but in general that doesn't work much in Spain.
We are going to look for the gasstation - thats how it works in Spain - Gasstation to Gasstation, talk and talk and talk a lot.
When you get to the highway, just follow the stream of cars - for your safety you can cross behind the safety small fence, cross the bridge. Then you will find one chavola - small gipsy village made from cartons and plastic sheets, metal sheets and that kind of stuff - don't be that curious,they could be quite dangerous people.
I have created subtitles for you who don't speak spanish to this video, you just have to click on sign CC on the bar lower bar of the video and they will appear in English.

Pass beside the village, follow the streams of cars. Then you will get to really tiny part, when you will have to walk beside the cars runnig on the highway. At this moment one part of highway is in reconstruction,so thats why its narrow. But don't worry, its about 50 meters till you get to point when you can cross to the part of the highway which is being renovated and its closed for cars,you just jump over really small panel and be walking on the safe area. You will aready see the Gasstation there. Just walk there and start asking around. From there most of the people still go to close directions - Alcala de Henares or Guadaljara. If they go to Guadaljara,you can ask them to drop you on one gasstation before Guadaljada. Once I found the lift from that another gasstation directly to Barcelona,but you can find direct lifts even from that one. Just concentrate more to ask latinos,not spanish.

And because the one picture is more than million words I would like to put for you here one beautiful map.

Step 5 - As you get finally out of Madrid, never never ever get someone to persuade you that the gastation Medinaceli - its on 150km from Madrid it's a good choice for you, unless you are heading to Pamplona trough Soria - no motorways or highways - you can get to be in the middle of the forest in wrong side of the highway,where everybody goes back to Madrid or to Soria.Better get out of the car on km 103 - there is a big 24h gastation with as the people say amazing and cheap restaurant and there are lot of trucks parking as well.

The all people who will take you will think it just in the best meaning,the trouble is as you can see, that from this gasstation you cant get anywhere direction Zaragoza or Barcelona and believe me, its in the middle of forest and who will already get there - is going for 100 percent direction to Soria/Pamplona. It's around kilometer 150. The last gasstation before this one on this highway is KM103t

Saturday, September 29, 2012

How to hike to BioFarm Príroda close to Lozorno from Bratislava Slovakia

Hmm, how to start. I am back to homeland again for a little moment,before getting back to world again and I have decided to join one CS activity close to Capital city of Slovakia - Bratislava.

I am going to hitch-hike down there.
Do tomorrow hike which should be around 8 hours - let's see if I will be able to walk after it still (Last time I did 8 hour hike it was to Torres del Paine in Chilian Patagonia and the next day I would be happily let some butchet to cut my right leg just over the ankle). Anyway,there shouldn't be that huge changes in the hights, no running materials etc.

I writing this post just because in general to I wanted to put the probable map online and as I really like one page which I found looking for some calculator of turistic maps, but it seems to be in Beta version and I can't get the permalink from it and the clasical searchers doesn't drow it that pretty with all beautiful statistics.

I would like to write here how to work with this maps as well. As they are not in english and not everybody speaks slovak.

So here comes the MANUAL:
1.) You go to the point where you want to start your route. Click on right bottom of the mouse and choose the option "Začni trasu" - Start the route

2.) Then in some point if you would like to, you can try to put "Pridaj medzibod trasy" - means put the point in the middle - for example some place which you wouldn t like to miss.

3.) To put the ending point of the track choose the  "Ukonči trasu" - End of the route

4.) Then on the right side you have a bar, it s called hikepanner, you will be asked to choose Optimalization criterium for calculation of the route  -  "Optimalizuj trasu pre", where you can choose from 3 options - "minimálnu vzdialenosť" - the shortest distance, "minimálne prevýšenie" - minimal camber or "červenú značku" - red marking - long or mountain range routes.

5. ) And then press "vypočítať" - calculate.

And this is the result afterwards: