In Normandy where I do the checking and packing I pick up more medicine including broad-spectrum antibiotics before leaving on Monday very late at 16h30. My plan is to catch Strasbourg tonight, another 700 km away. My brother's farm is half-mile away from the highway A 29 and it is easy to walk to the Bolleville service area jumping over the fence and approaching a French teacher on her way to Brussels. She has been living there for quite a while and is driving back home from visiting her parents in Pornic. She drops me at the highway junction A29 and A1 (towards Lille).

A father-to-become young chap gives me a lift to the Thilloy tollbooth giving way to the recently opened ring-road around Reims where I catch instantly someone who immediately recognizes me. Hervé, salesman for Naturalia based in Manosque, the birthplace of Jean Giono, picked me up in Metz about 4 years ago. It is not very common that the same guy picks you up twice in this life but it did already happen to me a few times. I met in Dec, 1984 a French truck driver looking alike Charles Bronson in Londra camping near by Istanbul and crossed path again with him 16 years later around Lyon. Being a Bronson double I could not be mistaken and he could remember me well as well as I was in 1984 on a bike trip heading down towards Taurus and further Syria, Jordan and Egypt (15 000 km return trip in 9 months).

When we met each other first time in 2006 Hervé was reading the first tome of "La longue marche" (A pied de la méditerranée jusqu'en chine par la Route de la Soie) de Bernard Ollivier whose decision to undertake this pilgrimage was partially caused by the death of his beloved wife. His experience gave birth to Seuil - association prônant "la réhabilitation / rééducation par la marche" - inspired from the Oikoten experience ( Oikoten in Greek means being "out of your homeland and going forth on your own".

Hervé did not even complete the second book "Vers Samarcande" and is still reading it ! I wish him good luck and hope to meet with him within four years time in order to give him enough time to make it to the third and final volume "Traverser l'Anatolie" - before jumping out of his car at the Jarny péage (tollbooth). He is offering me some eight tasty banana soya desserts and some soya party toasted soya beans, almonds and raisins (

"Jamais je n'ai tant pensé, tant existé, tant vécu, tant été moi, si j'ose dire ainsi, que dans les voyages que j'ai fait à pied ...". Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Two guys I am asking for a lift towards Elsass agree to take me on board. I don't really pay attention which language they speak but I will soon learn that they are linked to Hervé, the previous commercial agent. The driver lives in Manosque (04) and owns a flat in Forbach (57). They are going to drop me in St Avold where I can select the way to Budapest through Saarbrücken - A6 all the way to Nürnberg - or straight to Strasbourg (via A4). If I choose A6 I will be tomorrow morning in Budapest. I don't have to go through Elsass but choose to do so as it is "ma seconde patrie" (my second homeland = région d'adoption). Can I say :"I am Alsacien by adoption". Certainly not !

After inquiring about their country of origin the driver comes from Syria but doesn't speak arabic with his passenger. He then tells me coming from Kurdistan. In 1962 the Syrian government stripped thousands of Syrian-born Kurds of their citizenship. Themselves and their descendants carry laminated orange identity cards that testify to their statelessness.

I remember well Kurds staring at me in Dec 84 / Jan 85 when I was biking there touring Syria. When I did apply to extend my visa the Syrian immigration officer asked me about my trip in Kurdistan and I had to give an extra 5 small-size ID pictures to get only a two-weeks visa extension.

I remember the little dusty tiny city capital of Ras el Ain and tell him the name of the city. He can't believe I have been in his birthplace and give him a few more hints about the district of Hasseke.

We discuss about the 200,000 "stateless" Kurds living in Syria who were denied citizenship and had no right to own property, to travel abroad or to send their children to high school. Though there has been no official announcement, and Syrian officials would not comment on the subject, speculation that President Bashar al-Assad under pressure of the Turkish government is planning to do something about the "Kurdish problem," as the issue of Syria’s stateless Kurds is known, has been circulating widely in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Kurds across Syria’s eastern border, in Iraq, came already into political power in the new government there, while Kurds to the north, in Turkey, are being granted new rights under pressure from Europe. The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has inaugurated a movement to distinguish itself from the rest of the country in a bid to attract investors by showing its security and economic progress and has even sent representatives in different countries. Although not officially recognized as a full-scale declared independent state - it could annoy some countries around and give ideas to Kurds in neighboring countries - it has consular sections opened abroad (53, rue de l'université à Paris).

From Kraichgau tankstelle right on A 6 two Czechs guys on their way to Prag are willing to give me a lift. I choose to get off at the cross-highway junction A 6 & A 3. Instead of staying on the ramp I decide to have a nice picnic alone in the woods and fields with the noisy purring of the engines passing by as a back sound. Au menu : pâté, jambonneau (knuckle end of a pork salted or smoked, it is braised or poached), breaded turkey meat, camembert à la noix, grapes et flan au chocolat.Beverage : Tarry souchong (smoky tea).

I go down on the ramp ready to fight like a gladiator in order to survive and a car lift me to the parking area before the next exit Aldorf.
A Hungarian truck driver is giving me a lift to the service area Donautal, 200 km away. I just got off the cabin and am checking around the possibilities near by the truck parking when I miss the opportunity to flag down Catalin driving a traffic Renault pulling an imposing glider. He does stop 100 meters further to pick up 2 really looking-dirty guys and catch him at the pull over spot. They have priority as they were first and give them way to access the vehicle (only 2 seats available). I am helping them out getting into Catalin's traffic and am glad he did stop to give them a lift straight to Budapest - another 550 km - as they have been hitting hard the road from Brussels, 800 km in 4 days (since they left on Monday).

I can't tell you about their citizenship in order to avoid to be prejudicial against them. They just kept waiting all day long and slept outside at night wrapped in their blanket. They're telling me that Germans are not too friendly towards them but I can't keep it quiet about their appearance. They really look like bums / hobo(e)s with dirty seedy long hair and unwashed clothes they're wearing on the top of each other to keep them warm at night.

Oh my gosh ! How they've made it to this point (with all the suffering they have been through). They really make it more difficult for people to help them. The youngest with full awareness tells me : "That's how we are ! People sometimes stop by looking at us - they think we're two girls - and keep driving. They have to accept the way we are. If they don't like the way we look I won't change anything for them. Take us with you or leave".

Hitchhiking through Europe without giving yourself the best chance to get a ride is brave and gritty. I do respect his opinion. They're sending me good vibes and positive energy in order to find another lift. I tell them not to worry too much for me. It's my job. I am good at it fully entailed with the body following the mind focused on the car's registered plates. I wish them good luck.

Soon Piotr, A Slovak is giving me a lift. He is driving alone in his car followed by another colleague driving the same way. They live 30 km away from each other but Piotr has 10 days off while his friend only 5 days, reason why they need two cars. We quickly overtake Catalin's glider before getting caught by traffic jam three times. We don't go out of the highway and keep waiting reasonably. Most certainly the best we can do for the time being.

And we pass Catalin's team once again without understanding how he did that. As we are about to come to the Schwechat service area where Piotr will drop me I just notice Catalin's traffic and the aerodynamic line of his trailer. I can recognize him from far away. I can't be wrong.That's him ! Did he fly over or what ?

Piotr drove fairly fast since we left the trio behind. I am definitely going to great them.
Catalin is fluent in English but forgot a bit of his French. He is flight instructor, very kind hearted and pleasant to speak to. He is just as surprised as I am to cross path again in another petrol station some 250 km further. We would have planned some meeting we would have surely missed each other. He tells me he is going to do something in order to help me and give me a lift for the 250 km left over to come in Budapest tonight.

I would have come anyway in good time seeing so many single Hungarian drivers going back home for the four days Easter break but I appreciate his good willingness. He is even crossing Budapest - I can easily guide him - in order to help us as much as he can and catch M3 on the other side of town on his way to Debrecen / Oradea. Catalin drops the two beatniks near by the Nyugati Pályaudvar (West train station) and the frog near by Lehel tér.

Program to come : check (in Hungarian).
- Saturday night Bike ride (till time is out ! neither limited time nor any estimated arrival time).
- Meeting point : Saturday night 20h30 Szabadság tér (Szabadság Square).

Excellent also to improve your Hungarian as there are any native English speakers.

- Resurrection Sunday Dance 2011, Heroes' Square (Hősök tere), Budapest 24/04 - 4.00 p.m.
Last year's videos of the event.
(Electronic Gospel Remix)

You don't have to be a believer (to appreciate and enjoy) !
Nobody is going to brainwash you.
I am a true (and happy) sinner.

Happy Easter.

Happy travels to All of you.

"Bhavatu sabba mangalam !"
"May all Beings be Happy !"