89,8 $ When I fell asleep I was tired. Too tired, so tired that I laid paralysed trying to get out of awake nightmares. (Sleep paralysis.) I don’t know if you’ve had it, but it
When I fell asleep I was tired. Too tired, so tired that I laid paralysed trying to get out of awake nightmares. (Sleep paralysis.) I don’t know if you’ve had it, but it happens to some people when they go to sleep being too tired. A guy in my dorm has it about once a week since he was a kid, and that is very painful. I only get it once every two years or so, and it doesn’t scare me. But it was very intensive and I was thinking whether it had anything to do with the medicine or not. Anyway, eventually I managed to get out of it and fell into normal sleep. 4 am my alarm went off. It didn’t manage to wake me up yesterday, but it succeeded this morning. Only that it wasn’t supposed to.
7 am I woke up again from Torkel making breakfast listening to the radio. I looked up a good highway entrance on the internet. There are three ways from Linköping to the E4; one Eastern, one Central and one Western. The Eastern one was out of question of course. Regarding the other two, I have a strong memory from many years ago when me and Fredrik stood at some annoyingly fast-paced road on which cars in all directions were on the same road and didn’t separate until already on highway speed and thus unable to stop and pick up hitchhikers. I figured that must have been the Central entrance. The Western highway entrance looked perfect; a long stretch of road that seemed to lead to nowhere but the highway, and with several entrances on the way. Where it merged with the highway there was a road coming from the North as well and it looked good. I decided to start with having a look at the roundabout next to the university and then follow the road up to the E4 and try every entrance on the way. Torkel offered himself to drive me there but I declined since it seemed like a rather short and pleasant walk on the map. At 8 am I started walking.
Soon I arrived at the forest that I had seen on the map. The university roundabout was on the other side of the forest, and I could go around it on either it’s west or east side. I took the west way, which had seemed shorter. After a while I found a small road leading into the forest. It seemed straight and without snow. A sign said “Oak Land. Natural reserve”.
“Mmmhh …” I thought. “Let’s take a shortcut and have a unique nature experience at the same time”. It seemed like such a good idea. After one hour of walking the forest was still around me. Bounded by roads in every direction, it should end sooner or later. But it didn’t. I figured that I must either be mistaken and lost, or that it must be that this forest path was dwindling into an infinite length in a fractal way. A sign pointed to another path and said: “Cultural heritage”. No, I don’t want to inherit anything, I want to get out! I figured this might be the Valla forest from the poster Pättär – who is native from this area – has at home saying: “Save the Valla forest, vote NO!”. Thank you Pättär and your tree-hugging parents and their hippie friends. I really enjoyed all these oaks. But now I am wet, exhausted and frustrated and I wish you could have let them build a straight and dry road through this place.
After another hour I was walking through a landscape of farms and race horsing stables. Something was definitely wrong. My feet were soaked as the muddy snow filled up my shoes. This is the worst time of the year. It is indeed beautiful; it’s so much brighter, birds are singing, smells are coming up from the ground, patches of green are seen here and there and love promises are in the air. So please give me a photo of this so I can look at it when I walk the dry streets of a warm country.
I came to a village called “Slaka”. They had a cute, pink church, an old school that lead the thoughts to Astrid Lindgren, with children playing on a snow-covered football field and a melted ice hockey rink.
A busy road started here and I started hitchhiking just to have someone tell me where the hell I was and I ate the candy from yesterday’s dick torture to cheer me up. No one stopped but finally I came to some suburb with a bus station with a map on it. I realised that I had taken west on a road that wasn’t on the Eniro map from internet. Damn Eniro, I just lost three hours of my life circumventing the whole Östergötland countryside. My wet worn-out feet will sue this stupid website.
Can somebody please find me a better internet map service?
The university roundabout was not suitable for hitchhiking. The road itself wasn’t neither; a fence made it impossible for cars to stop. I walked along the Ryd student dorm area that lined the road. I was in Ryd on an after party when there was a convention for students of public administration in Linköping. I am not sure if it was on this after party we played ping pong or if that was the after party in Lund. Those new-built dorms look the same all over Sweden.
The Ryd highway entrance was so beautiful. It was right after a street crossing, which slowed the cars down. It was straight and wide, making it easy to be seen by the cars, and easy for them to stop. I hoped that the abundance of students in the area should make it easier to get a ride somehow.
I stood there between 11:14 and 11:20. The sun was shining. Car number 9 stopped. The man who drove claimed that he had hitchhiked in total 100.000 kilometers in his life; that is equivalent to 2,5 times around the globe. Once when he took a ferry from Israel, he met a Korean lady and 1988 he went to Korea and got married and now they live in Östergötland.
Then our conversation was interrupted by a worrying sound, “rapapapapa”. It was his silencer that was falling off, so he stopped the car and went under it to repair. There is no better place to hitchhike than from a wrecked car on the highway, so I stuck my thumb up.
It was 11:40 and sunny. After one minute car number 5 stopped. I took my stuff from the other car, wished him good luck and went with the new driver to Jönköping. We talked about business and having production in other countries and so on. His company is selling tools, www.standardmekano.se. I asked him what the new government had done for his company and he said “nothing”.
He let me off in Northen Jönköping. Jönköping is a tricky city with no good highway entrances as far as I know. I always try to get out to Hyltena service area which is the largest in Sweden. Largest in Sweden doesn’t imply large enough though, but if there is one service area in Sweden that deserves a chance, then it is Hyltena.
I went to the nearest entrance and although it was far from perfect, the traffic too intensive and the stopping margin to thin, I decided to give it a hundred cars before looking for a better place.
It was 12:31 and it had got windy and generally uncomfortable. After 6 minutes car number 31 stopped. It contained an African man who said he’d only go 3 kilometers. I was glad to get nearer the Southern edge of the city so I got in and we went there. He asked me if the Swedes weren’t generous with giving rides, but I said they were. Today 6,8% of them stopped, and that is very sufficient for effective and comfortable hitchhiking.
The next entrance was technically easier than the previous one, with lots of space for friendly souls to stop. But I got a feeling that I wouldn’t get lucky here.
I started 12:43 and it was raining a little. I wanted to walk to the next entrance, but my feet hurt from the morning’s excessive exercise, and when I looked further South it seemed like the walk could be long. So I decided to give this place a 100 cars.
At 13:07, car number 102 stopped. The driver was going to some obscure village, but I joined him in order to get off at Hyltena service area. However, when we got to the service area they had called it something else on the signs so we figured that Hyltena must be further down the road. But it wasn’t, and I decided it was better to follow the guy to Vrigstad and hitchhike the local roads rather than being left on the bare highway.
The E4 between Jönköping and Skåne is a tricky place. Carrying all traffic between Stockhom and Europe, it is far to fast and dense to allow hitchhiking on the road. But with only tiny villages along it, there are no good entrances on which you can get a ride. So in this situation I thought it better to hitchhike the local Småland forest roads. But I didn’t look forward to it.
The driver was not older than me, and had an old car but a new suit. He was working as a stock trader in Jönköping. He had tried various business ideas. For some time he imported car parts from China and was making nice profits until his Chinese contacts tried to squeeze his margins till he got tired of it and quit. Then he had been smuggling cigarettes from Montenegro to Norway. He had also worked within psychiatry, and he thought I was reckless to eat psychotic drugs for money. He told me that he had immigrant friends who had played insane in order to stay in Sweden. Then they had been given drugs so strong that they had ended up insane for real, accepted as Swedish inhabitants but unable to work and live normal lives.
He was himself from Montenegro and was to marry a Montenegrin girl who would move up to Småland after finishing her degree in human resources in Germany. Later it turned out that the driver and I were related; he was my ex-girlfriend’s friend’s ex-boyfriend’s uncle. Quite a funny coincidence.
In Vrigstad I stood on the road at 13:47 in a faint rain. After 8 minutes car number 6 stopped. It was a truck that was going 10 kilometers to load planks from a sawmill.
At 14:00 I stood among piles of logs and planks and hitchhiked in a humid smell of sawdust. After 15 minutes car number 17 stopped. It was a pick-up with 3 men that were going to cross the E4 at Värnamo. The driver told me that he had started up his company with the same entrepreneur’s subsidy as I’m on now. After being laid off and unemployed for a few months the employment agency had believed in his idea to invest in peat drilling machines and provided for his living for the first 6 months of business. I asked if he had now paid taxes enough to compensate the support he’d got, and he replied “oh yes, many times over”. He was now drilling peat – Sweden’s brown gold – for the heating of many houses and had two employees in his car.
Värnamo is the only city between Jönköping and Skåne that has a population large enough to give a reasonable chance of getting out of there. The entrance was familiar to me; from here me and Fredrik got a ride to Malmö once, and that’s what I was hoping for. At 14:35 I started waiting. At 15:31 car number 70 stopped. It was an Irish truck, so the driver sat on the wrong side.
The driver was from Poland and told me that his mother had forced him to take private lessons of English during his teenage years. So now he could work for this Irish company. It was his second time to Sweden. The first time the snow had made him take 7 hours to drive 230 kilometers. He had seen a car in the ditch every 10 kilometers on average. His father was a truck driver too, and was only 2 hours late to get on that ferry that recently sank in the English Channel.
He had been to discotheques all over and told me Warzaw was the best city in Europe: “Good drugs, good alcohol and good sex”. He also said that Swedish trucks were the best. He liked Volvo since it could fix the speed on 91 km/hour, while most other trucks only allowed 89 or 90. But most of all he liked Scania since those trucks allowed you to turn off the speed control. In Italy he had been caught driving a Scania at 125 km/h and had had to pay the police a 200 € bribe in order to avoid a 1100 € fine. In Helsingborg, the truck was going to take the ferry to Denmark so I got out in the port.
It was rainy and almost dark. I figured I had small chances to get a ride to Malmö, but I still started to find a local road South along the Skåne coast. Trying the highway was not an option, the highway system outside Helsingborg is impossible to hitchhike. If I had been going for Stockholm I’d have taken the ferry to Denmark for 2-3 € and then ask all the cars in the ferry line to Sweden. But for going to Malmö I needed a local road and started walking South on random. My feet were killing me though, and the rain on my glasses and the approaching night made it hard for me to see anything at all. So how should the drivers be able to see me? Eventually I swallowed my pride and walked back to the harbor from where the trains to Malmö go. The ticket was 8 €.
In Malmö I missed two city buses while looking for cash. When I finally had cash the bus driver didn’t want it. Malmö feeling! I went to the Monkey’s apartment. I met him first time when I was 14. My friend Fredrik had moved from our Fisksätra suburb to inner-city Södermalm. I didn’t meet him much for half a year, but then one day he took me to his scary inner city friends who were sitting drinking Monday tea on Skinnarviksberget mountain. The Monkey didn’t say a word, but he slowly turned somersaults down the mountain in a very agile fashion. One guy interrogated me about whether I’d messed with Braxen (which I didn’t), and then we sat on that damn mountain drinking tea every Monday until some time in high school when everyone went into different directions.
The Monkey went to study theatre in a folk high school and that theatre course was so intensive that it burned him out and left him on sick leave for one year. Now he is living in an old and cheap apartment in Möllan in Malmö where he is obsessed with making Commedia del Arte-masks.
It is a hobby which makes him incredibly happy, but it is sucking up all his resources so to pay for rent, food and mask materials he studies Media to get student allowance. For this course he made a short movie all by himself. It took one month and we watched it together. You can watch it here.
After the movie we took lots of pictures with his masks and dolls. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get the pictures inside the computer since we are both retards, but maybe I can manage it later when I’m in more technical company.
After our photo session we hit the bohemian Möllan night. We met up with China-Per and his workmate. I met China-Per when I during my first night in Communist-China walked around in the dark, completely lost and pathetic and with no place to stay. I saw this foreigner and it turned out to be China-Per and I could move in with him. Now we had a few beers in Sapla, a classic Möllan pub. It was very nice at first, but the last nights bad sleep took out its toll and I was close to pass out after only three beers, so the Monkey thought it best to lead me home while I could still walk on my sore feet.