On the second day on high tatras, we did the hike to zelene pleso which is a beautiful emerald green lake. We had lunch at a chata which was a little restaurant-hut that was strategically placed beside the lake. After lunch, we had to decide between returning via the same route or trying a different route. After some discussion, we decided to be a bit adventurous and try a different route.
The route was quite nice and less well-paved. However, we encountered a little problem when we finally got to the road- we realised that the next bus towards the tram stop was scheduled to arrive in almost 1.5h time. So we decided to do something crazier and try to hitch a ride. We took turns and tried out the universal hitch-a-ride sign by the road side. To be honest, I was really nervous to attempt to hitch a ride. To our surprise, the cars didn’t stop for us. In fact, several drivers actually increased their speed when they came close to us. Some of them waved at us but didn’t stop.
Feeling disappointed, we decided to just sit around and wait for the bus after some time. At this point, a girl came out from the woods and asked us for the time. Then, she proceeded to try to hitch a ride from the opposite side of the road. The cars also didn’t stop for her but she was rather determined so finally, about half an hour later, she got a ride from a hipster old man.
About 15 min after the scheduled arrival time of the bus, we were worried that the bus simply would not come. When I went to have another look at the schedule on the bus stop again, Y called me excitedly. A car stopped for her!
There were 3 people in the car, presumably a family. We told the driver our final destination and he said he could only drive us to the nearest tram station. That was already really good for us so we hopped onto the car. During the car ride, the lady seated at the back started talking to us and she asked us what we would be doing on the next day. Y told her that we wanted to go to the Slovak Paradise National Park and the lady started recommending a route to us. She even showed us pictures of the views along the route and wrote down the names of the major points of the route for us. To make things even better, they went the extra mile (literally) and drove us to the town that we were staying at.
That was my first hitchhiking experience and we agreed that we were initially quite surprised by how difficult it was to stop a car by the roadside. But the kindness and generosity of the people who gave us a ride really restored my faith in humanity. Sometimes it’s so easy to focus on the ugly side of humanity- the calculative, selfish and destructive. But an episode like this reminds me yet again that people can be nice, generous and kind to one another. And sometimes when the opportunity presents itself, you have to decide what kind of person you want to be.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can.” – Martin Luther King