Hitchhiking through paradise

Austrian traveller journeys from Alaska to Argentina

Gabor Tolnai of Innsbruck

Gabor Tolnai of Innsbruck, Austria passed through 100 Mile House recently, en route to begin a bicontinental hitchhiking journey from Alaska to Argentina.

From there, he may continue on to the South Pole – if he can “hitch” a free ride across the Southern Ocean to Antarctica.

Tolnai got a good start when he caught a no-cost lift across the Atlantic Ocean last fall.

He departed from Girona, Spain on Sept. 2, 2013 and hitched across the Mediterranean on a ship from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands.

“A big wave hit us, so we had to go to [Morocco], where they could not repair us, so then we went to Dakar, Senegal.

“The boat, when it was sinking, was an adventure. It was a bit scary, but I was calm because … I didn’t want my last minutes in life to be in panic.”

After repairs, the same ship took him westward across the Atlantic to Barbados.

Tolnai said he caught another free boat lift to Florida, and then hitchhiked westward on the highways following his only steadfast rules – he’ll only walk or hitchhike, and won’t pay for accommodation.

The point of making this journey is to show people hitchhiking is still a good, low-cost, alternative way to see the world, he explained.

In Las Vegas, Tolnai met Salima Ismail of London, England who joined him in his journey, which took them onward to Los Angeles and then north to Canada.

The pair stayed with Ismail’s relatives in Vancouver for three weeks in May, and volunteered on an organic farm on Vancouver Island, he noted.

Tolnai said his trip highlights so far are crossing the Atlantic and getting to know a lot of generous strangers, many of whom gave him a meal and accommodation.

These included Joe and Patti Caissie of 100 Mile House, who picked up the couple in Clinton, hosted them for five days and gave them a guided tour of Lone Butte and Green Lake.

Noting they wanted to get to Alaska in time to experience 24-hour daylight, he said they planned build a shelter and camp for a month.

Then, Tolnai and Ismail will set out onto the Pan-American Highway at Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse, Alaska) to hitch rides along the longest highway on earth, passing through Canada via Edmonton and Calgary.

He noted their plan is to then cross the Unites States, Central and South America to reach Ushuaia, Argentina – and possibly the South Pole – and be back home in Europe by March 2016.

Follow Tolani and Salima’s journey on Facebook at Hitchhiking Through Paradise.


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