It was Sunday. The gas station where Carlos left me was really big and situated right on the highway but… it was Sunday. Moreover, it was an early Sunday afternoon. And that immediately evoked the memory of the previous Sunday – trucks per stopover, walking on fields and gullies and all the other things related to staying at one place.

At first sight I noticed the Bulsatcom antenna on one truck and I got to talk to the driver. My fears were justified – it turned out to be a great mixture consisting of the following ingredients:
1. Even though on Sunday it is not forbidden to travel by truck, most drivers prefer to rest.
2. Most trucks that go to Madrid don’t run on that highway because it is paid and they use the national one – A2 – that is free.
3. Above all, even the few trucks that run around here usually go to Valencia.
4. W’at are ya gonna say about the first three, huh?

The road traffic of cars was very low, and the chance that someone would go on a trip for 6-7 hours to Madrid was even lower.
The driver informed me that on the other side, about 300 metres straight ahead there was a parking lot of Willi Betz (the same company that the three Bulgarians in France work for) and advised me to go and ask around if there is some truck going to Madrid. In extended plan, the three hundred meters turned out to be 2 kilometers, and one guy stopped even without me waving and picked me up for about half kilometer.

On the parking lot there were plenty of trucks, and most of them were driven by Bulgarian drivers. Unfortunately, even here I fell on stony ground – it is a very rare occasion when someone from that portal went to Madrid. There was not such an occasion at that moment. The people had unfolded little tables next to the trucks and invited me to stay with them, to eat and drink. It was clear that today I wouldn’t go anywhere but at least I would sleep at warm place.

And I really slept at a warm place – at the cold storage of a truck. No matter how strange it may sound, the cold storages can also keep positive temperatures, and in that case the driver warmed it up to 27 C, there was not even need for me to take out the sleeping bag. I slept only with my clothes on.

The old people have said – new day, new luck. I got up at 6 and headed to one near round crossing where the cars enter the above-mentioned A2. I waited and waited, but the place seemed way too uncomfortable to stop and decided to go back to the gas station from yesterday. When I reached it the Bulgarian wasn’t gone yet and when he woke up half an hour later he picked me up and drove me to the peaje 5-6 kiolemetres ahead on the highway.

According to the hitch-hiking web-sites the peajes are very good places to hitch, because all the cars stop in order to pay and someone could have taken me. Yes buut this was not a good place. One employee saw me while I was trying to squeeze myself through the bareers and told me that his boss was coming soon and would scold him – that’s why he motioned me to wait aside where the cars that have passed through the first bareers, situated a little bit ahead, were going out. The place seemed good for hitch-hike because there was a lot of space but even though the hitch there was infringement of the road marking. Therefore it became clear that this wasn’t meant to be.

About half an hour later I was already wondering how my destiny would help me out of this awful place. Then a police car came from below and stopped beside me. Whops, I have never had to deal with Spanish policemen and the question was whether they would skin me with some penalty. Two nice looking policemen went out of the car and informed that I can no longer stay there. They took my personal identity document and got me in the car. After about 15 kilometres they pulled me out of the highway and drove me to the center of some village whose name I never understood. With a smile on their faces and broken English they announced me to catch the train for 2 stops and get down at some other village – Villafranca, from where I could hitch-hike on the national roads because there it is allowed and not on the car road. They gave me my identity document back and we bid farewell.

It was already about 11 and I had absolutely no idea where I was. That’s why I decided not to waste any more time in orientation and looking for exit but to do what the policemen told me. I took the train for two stops that were roughly fifteen kilometers and I went down at Villafranca. I found my way fast with the help of a girl and an old man and went to the exit.

Half an hour later a car stopped me – I shoveled my rucksack at the boot of the car and explained with my poor Spanish that I don’t speak that well. The man asked me where I am from and when I answered I was from Bulgaria he said “Well, speak in Bulgarian, then!”
He was a Bulgarian who has been living in Spain for many years. He works as a private driver of microbus with which he delivers goods here and there. Now it happened so that his Hook’s coupling got broken and he was bringing it to different special workers. On passing we went to the mentioned special workers and then we passed by a little shop so that he would buy me water and some food. Finally he left me by the exit of his town where the asphalt road enters the highway.
Ten minutes later a Spanish man stopped and drove me about 50 kilometers ahead to Servera. The town itself seemed very interesting – ancient houses perched at all sides of a hill. As far as we managed to understand each other the highway circles around the city and the old N2 goes through it. Somewhere around the exit there is some gas station and a little restaurant where the trucks stop out of the new way for lunch.

It sounded well on theory but the reality was different. The place looks extremely desolate – almost no movement in both directions, even less trucks. There weren’t many people either. Two traffic lights were changing their signals on the empty crossing. The yellow colours of the surrounding landscape and the strong wind that was pushing me in the back made me feel like I was in some God-forsaken waste-land.

I’ve been waiting for 2 hours. None of the drivers of the few cars passing by showed any desire whatsoever to stop. The people would watch me without expression from the inside. Every now and then they pointed me out with a finger that they were going to the near villages. I was about to reach the point in which the situation starts to seem hopeless but at the same time I know that just then something would happen to help me out of the difficult situation. Few minutes later a car with two workers stopped. They saw me when they were going to Servera, they finished their work and went back. They drove me 8 kilometres ahead where the old asphalt road joins the new one and where there was a gas station!!!
Muucha mucha gracias and I moved on to look for some Bulgarian truck. At first sight I noticed a Bulgarian flag at one wind-screen and explained the driver what my mission was.

Grandpa Icho, as I understood later that was his name, was going to Logrono and could take me until Zaragoza. That is half of the way to Madrid and obviously I wouldn’t reach it today but anyway it was a great step forward, especially regarding the fact that I was less than 80 kilometers away from Barcelona.
Hristo has been in Spain for ten years. When he came in there he had to work whatever he could and has even slept on the streets and in the parks until he found his feet. Now he was living in a big apartment in a village near Logrono and he offered me to spend the night there. At the same time he called some Bulgarian friend of his and explained to him that he picked up a Bulgarian traveler. The other person realized who I was and started persuading him to take me at their place for dinner.

I was hesitating because Logrono is too much in the northern direction and that way the road to Madrid was getting too circuitous. But when we went through the big gas station before Zaragoza I saw that the traffic was low and the trucks were few. Those factors, together with the offer for warm bed persuaded me to go ahead. The landscapes around seemed very much desert-like and even at places reminded me of the Atacama desert at Chile. The most interesting is that in spite of the bad yellow soil and lack of water almost everywhere the land was cultivable and watered artificially. At one place we even went by a spacious wind-generating park.

At seven and a half we reached Logrono, we left the car and went at Dobrin’s place. He has been in Spain for eight years and lives there with his wife Tsenka and their two children. He is also a driver but he has a second job. He buys old barrels, he cuts and fixes them. That results in pots for big plants. They met me with a great interest in my trip and we spent the next hour eating, drinking fine home wine and talking. Then we went at Hristo’s apartment in order to sleep.

We got up at about four and a half in order to continue to Burgos where the goods at the truck were supposed to be delivered. At few minutes to seven in the morning Grandpa Icho left me by a gas station on the exit for Burgos. Only after a little while I understood that the place is certainly not the best option for hitch-hiking. The gas station is very small and most drivers that stop go to the little restaurant and the hotel. It was very cold, nothing like Barcelona few days ago, it was still dark and I prepared myself for long waiting. Twenty minutes after dawn a car stopped – the man said he was going to Soria. I imagined the map in my head and decided he may leave me at some big gas station ahead. I said OK and went to catch my rucksack when I noticed to my bewilderment that the car was leaving. Damn it, damn it… 10 seconds later I decided that it had been for good and looked at the map to see the road to Soria. It turned out that it diverts just few kilometers ahead and wouldn’t work for me at all. It was obvious that this was not my guy. Fifteen minutes later a woman stopped suddenly and picked me up.

Maria was nice 30-something chick that was going to Sevilla and could take me until 70 kilometers before Madrid. Her English was very poor but in addition with my Spanish we managed to talk a little. She is a wine technologist and was going there in order to make a presentation. At the place where she works most of the workers were Rumanians, there were some Bulgarians. She was the only Spanish in there. She has been working for two years at Argentina and Chille – it was so convenient that their summer is at the same time as our winter.
Maria seemed to repay for the fact that none of the car at Spain would stop. She didn’t turn aside on the road to Sevilla but went twenty more kilometers ahead to find me a suitable gas station to leave me at. However we didn’t find a good one and I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Therefore I went down on the next gas station we saw. There were few trucks stopped but none of them was going to Madrid. Considering the few cars I decided that it would be better for me to wait by the exit of the village where it was more convenient to stop.
Only five minutes later one man took me for Madrid. He left me at one neighbourhood at the southern part of the city that turned out to be very agreeable for Katerina so that she would come and take me.
Finally at Madrid!

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