So Many Roads ~ 1967, A GREAT TRIP

“Living is easy, with eyes closed,
Misunderstanding all you see.”

John Lennon, “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

My third and one of my best trips ~ best because it opened things up for me and gave me a glimpse of my future directions ~ began in Spring ’67 when, passing through France and Swit-zerland, I got to Venice for the first time and fell in love with the Sinking City. Staying in the Youth Hostel on Giudecca Island, I met other travelers. There was Dutch Tom who made his living by playing flamenco-guitar on the streets. There was Erwin from Austria, with whom I became friends, and Rene, from Zurich, with whom I formed a partnership busking; he was the guitarist, and I the vocalist, with my repertoire of Beatles’ songs. I had quite a good voice, and together we made enough for our daily expenses while doing it, at least.

Those were good days, until some policemen suddenly arrived and busted us; we were not jailed or anything like that, but told to leave Venice without delay. Believe it or not, we complied, not daring to defy them at that time ~ we were not tough guys ~ but a couple of days later, we returned from Trieste and resumed our busking until we decided we’d had enough and moved on.

Group of friends in Venice in ‘67

Saying goodbye to beautiful Venice, with its many fond memo-ries, therefore, we set out and got to Ljubljana in Slovenia (one of the republics comprising Yugoslavia at that time), and were there approached by some young guys on the street who wanted to practice their English, and invited us to stay overnight in their home; such invitations were always readily accepted, as we had nowhere to stay. We were treated very kindly, and I kept in touch with this family from thereon.

We stayed overnight with them ~ the Kavseks ~ then, saying goodbye to them, we resumed our journey, and got rides on-wards through Croatia and Serbia until, in southern Yugoslavia, a Mercedes stopped for us; we couldn’t believe our luck! It was driven by young Germans going to Beirut. We had a ride right to Istanbul, through Bulgaria. Crossing the Turkish border, we were in really different territory, in contact for the first time with living Islam. I’ll never forget my entry into Istanbul a few hours later; first, we passed through the ancient Byzantine walls and drove down the main street ~ Divan Yolu ~ past the Grand Covered Bazaar and Constantine’s Column, until we were dropped in the Sultan Ahmet area, where the magical domes and minarets of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque dominate the skyline. We walked where the hippodrome and the fabulous palace of the Byzantine emperors had stood. Hagia Sophia was the largest Christian church in the world when built by the emperor Justin-ian in the 5th century, and remained so for many centuries, until it was converted to a mosque after the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, and when Turkey became a republic in the early 20th century, it was turned into a museum, and the wonderful mosaics that the Ottomans had whitewashed over, were uncovered. Istanbul became my favorite city, and remains so until now. The name was changed from Constantinople to Is-tanbul only in 1930.

We got a room in a cheap hotel; in fact, Istanbul was the cheap-est place for accommodation, food and other things that I’d yet been to, and on top of this, I loved it for its tangible sense of his-tory and its incomparable setting. There we met other young travelers; it was already a place where people on their way to and from the East ~ meaning Afghanistan, India and Nepal ~ would rendezvous and rest up for a few days after a tiring trip. It was also rather dangerous as hustlers would approach you on the street and hiss, “Hashish? Hashish? Wanna buy hashish?” You had to be very careful if you wanted to buy this commodity, as some of these guys were hand-in-hand with the police, and no sooner had they managed to make a sale than they would signal to the police waiting nearby. Many people ended up in jail that way. The penalties for drug-use at that time were very heavy, and the conditions in Turkish jails horrible ~ and still are, by all accounts (the movie, “Midnight Express” was not an exag-geration, but it upset many Turks).

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Crossing the Bosphorus by ferry ~ the two bridges were things of the future ~ we set foot for the first time in Asia, a great feel-ing. Hitch-hiking was not well-known in Turkey but we managed, and in fact, found it not difficult at all, and within a couple of days were in the south. It was Rene’s plan to go to India, but although India had called me from childhood, as I’ll later explain, I didn’t feel ready to make such a journey. Just how far I intended to go, I don’t recall, and probably had no plans, but we crossed the border into Syria, getting the visa there without any trouble, and traveled through that land, where we found the people very friendly and hospitable; we were not yet aware of the rising ten-sions in the Middle-East, and so had a carefree passage.

It was also easy to get a visa on entering Jordan, and skirting Amman and crossing the river by the Allenby Bridge ~ British-built during WW1 ~ we rode a bus up the steep and barren hills of Judea to Jerusalem. Now, with my Christian background ~ the only other religion I’d had contact with at that time was Islam, and I was not yet mature or interested enough to make any comparisons ~ I felt quite moved to enter this ‘holy’ city, and dur-ing my 10 days there, it became another of my favorites.

We stayed in a small hotel, Holy Land House, on a narrow street inside Herod’s Gate by the name of Aqabat Darwish (Street of the Dervishes), living on food we’d become accustomed to in Syria and Jordan ~ humus (chick-pea paste), pita-bread, and fa-lafel (deep-fried chick-pea patties). Old Jerusalem was then part of Jordan, as it had been since 1948, but this was about to change. The Old City was really a place of atmosphere, and even as I write of it now, the smells of the spice-bazaar come back to me, and I can ‘see’ the narrow, stepped streets and ar-cades, and hear the cries of the yoghurt-vendors, “Leban-leban!”. We saw the sights, of course ~ the Dome of the Rock (built on the site where the Jews claim their Second Temple was situated, and from where, Muslims believe Mohammed as-cended to heaven by horse), the Holy Sepulchre (where one of the attendants said to me, “Hey, Mr. Hitch-hiker, stand in line!” to get into the tomb itself); I also went to the rival claim to the bur-ial-place of Jesus outside the city-walls ~ the Garden of the Tomb ~ where there’s a tomb in a pleasant and well-kept garden ~ as the name would suggest ~ against a cliff, the features of which resemble a skull, consonant with the Bible‘s name of the place, Golgotha: Place of a Skull. This garden is said to have been discovered by General Gordon (of Khartoum fame). It is a peaceful and well-kept place, and seems much more authentic, with the round stone in a groove along which to roll it up against the tomb, than the ornate Holy Sepulchre, which has been so decorated and embellished over the centuries that it is hard to imagine a body lying there. The Holy Sepulchre is said to have been discovered by Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, when she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem after they’d both embraced Christianity, but it was probably just a ploy. How can we know for sure?

Soon after we got to Jerusalem, we became aware that it was possible to sell blood there, and didn’t hesitate to do so; I forget how much we got, but it certainly helped us out a little. I’d never done this before, otherwise I would have told of it.

We went down to the Dead Sea, into which the River Jordan drains; nothing runs out of it, however, as it is the lowest spot on earth, and there is no outlet; the level is maintained by evapora-tion, it being very hot there; because of this, salt and other min-erals have accumulated and the salinity is so dense that it’s im-possible to sink in it, and you can float there reading a newspa-per if you want. As a result of going there, I came down with sunstroke, and was quite sick for a couple of days, with fever, vomiting and diarrhea. It was not to be my last experience of this; I have little tolerance for the sun.

While we were in Jerusalem, things had been happening, and obviously, the Arab nations on three sides of Israel (on the 4th, was the Mediterranean) meant to attack this tiny land of just 2 million people. Abdul Gamel Nasser, President of Egypt, closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping, thereby severely restricting Israel (it had hitherto been open to ships of all nations, including Israel). Israel prepared itself for the onslaught, having always been on the alert since its establishment in 1948, after it fought a terrible war with the Palestinians.

Rene and I parted; he set off for India through Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, and I remaining in Jerusalem, wondering what to do as the storm-clouds gathered. I made friends with some Danes ~ Liz, Finn, Soren and Claus ~ who, like us, had hitch-hiked through Turkey, Syria and Jordan, and we all had misgivings about retracing our route out, as Syria ~ and to a lesser extent, Jordan ~ had become verbally bellicose. Daily, we followed the news in the newspapers and on radio, on which the invective was progressively ratcheted up, until the Danes decided to run for it; I should have gone with them instead of dithering, but stayed, and eventually went to the British consulate and asked them to arrange my repatriation, chicken that I was. Well, the Danes made it back alright through Syria and Turkey and all the way home to Denmark, while I was put on a flight from Amman to London ~ my first-ever flight ~ and later billed £70 by the Home Office for the fare.

A few days later, when war broke out, Israel pre-empted its enemies’ attacks by destroying the bulk of their air-forces on the ground and routing the Egyptian army as it came over the Sinai Desert, so that the Egyptians fled as fast as they could, aban-doning their weapons and even their boots ~ obviously, they found it easier to run barefoot; the desert was littered with thousands of boots. The Jordanians were driven out of the Old City, back across the Allenby Bridge, leaving the Israelis in control of their greatest prize and the West Bank. The Golan Heights, which Syria had used to bombard northern Israel, were also captured. It was all over in an amazing six days. What a crush-ing defeat for the Arabs! Of course, having just been there, I watched these events from afar with the greatest interest, and most of the non-Muslim world at that time sympathized with Is-rael as here was this tiny nation surrounded by so many hostile Arab lands with a combined population of 100 million. Egypt, under Nasser, was a Soviet client-state, supplied with the latest weapons, its army trained by Soviet advisors; Syria, too; but all to no avail.

I returned to work in the bar for the next three months, and then, because I now had friends in Copenhagen, set off again. Finn had arranged with his land-lady ~ a kindly widow named Hedda Lillethorup, who is no doubt deceased by now ~ for me to stay there; she gave me a room of my own and very nice food, and Finn, when he wasn’t working, showed me around; Copenhagen became another on my growing list of favorite cities, and I spent my 21st birthday there.

That summer saw young people set out on the roads in un-precedented lemming-like numbers, and it was generally easy to get rides; people were so kind. This is not to say there was no danger in doing what we were doing, because of course there was, and I’ve had my share of scares, but when you’re young, you either don’t notice it, treat it lightly, or simply take it as part of the trip. Traveling through Germany on the autobahns was especially easy, as German registration-plates begin with the ini-tials of the place of registration, so vehicles from Munich, for ex-ample, would display an ‘M’, and those from Bonn a ‘BN’. Wait-ing for a ride sometimes at a service-station, sometimes at the entrance to the autobahn, and other times just standing at the roadside, you’d try to choose a car with an initial of the place you wanted to go to, and would often be successful in getting long rides at high speeds. I traveled through Germany so many times in this way.

From Denmark, then, I traversed Germany and went to visit Rene in Zurich, knowing the date of his expected return from In-dia. He had given me the address of some friends with whom he stayed, and I got there to find he’d just returned and was staying with his mother on the other side of town. His friends took me in, and Rene came to join us the next day. He was in a rather sad state, having contracted hepatitis in India, and had not fully re-covered from it; he looked dreadful ~ yellow, thin, and was very weak. Nor was this the only change in him; being on home-ground, he’d already hung up his traveler’s mind with his trav-eler’s clothes, and looked at me with different eyes; he’d been only a casual traveler, making a one-off trip prior to getting mar-ried and settling down; we were like strangers to each other. But, knowing I intended to go to Istanbul again, he didn’t hesi-tate to ask me to bring him back a saz ~ a Turkish stringed in-strument with a long neck; I said I would.

After a few days in Zurich, I went to Austria, to visit Erwin in St. Polten. He received me better, and showed me around his town before hitch-hiking with me to Vienna, but all I remember about that was sleeping under a bridge over the Danube, with rain dripping onto us from holes above. We parted there, he to return home, and I to go on to Venice again. On the way, I was picked up by some Americans in the camper-van they’d bought to tour Europe in ~ a young guy named Fred, his sister Linda, and a black girl whose name I forget. They were going to Venice and from there to ~ guess where? ~ Istanbul. So once again, I got a long ride lasting a week or more, and had fun on the way. We split up in Istanbul to go our separate ways, Fred going off to buy hash to smuggle back to the States ~ a very risky business from beginning to end ~ and I never saw or heard from them again after that, so don’t know if they made it or not.

Staying in the Gulhane Cinar Hotel, favored by hippies because it was cheap and central, I spent some more days in Istanbul, wandering around and buying a nice saz. Then I set off to return to Switzerland, and that’s when I got stuck at the Bulgarian border with my book. Getting through Bulgaria, I traveled up through Yugoslavia and went to stay with the Kavseks in Ljubl-jana again for a few days. Their aged grandmother was an ex-cellent cook, and took very good care of me, preparing some-thing different every day; I particularly remember her delicious apfel strudel, and there, for the first time, I tasted fried auber-gines. Then, one day, we had some kind of egg-dish, which I really didn’t like, but ate anyway, as not to have done so would have been rude ~ oh, how many times over the years have I had to eat things that I really didn’t like! ~ (I was not then a full-vegetarian, even though I’d always been inclined to it from childhood, never having liked meat) ~ and afterwards, they asked me if I’d liked it. Now, what could I say? I had to dissem-ble and say yes. They then asked if I knew what it was, and I said I didn’t, wondering what I’d let myself in for. To my surprise and disgust, they told me, “Pig’s mind,” meaning brains. Fortu-nately, I’ve always had quite a strong stomach and good control over it, otherwise I might have thrown up!

Leaving Ljubljana, I returned to Zurich, where Rene thanked me for his saz, but otherwise was still not very friendly; I felt that he considered me an embarrassment that he’d rather be without.

Anyway, he had to go to St. Moritz, where he sometimes worked as a ski-instructor, and asked me to go with him that far and go on from there alone. We had a pleasant enough train-ride until we began to argue and I decided to leave him without more ado, so got off at the next stop and hitched a ride on a mountain-road that led to Italy. Why I was dropped where I was by that ride, I don’t know ~ there are so many things about my travels I forget now, and would undoubtedly forget more as time goes by, which is one of the reasons I’ve been meaning to write these memoirs for some years now ~ but I found myself in a pine-forest, at night, with again no place to stay, and nothing to eat. No prob-lem; I unrolled my sleeping-bag under the trees, and was soon asleep. It was a cold night ~ October by then ~ and I awoke at dawn to find everything covered in frost. I lay there without mov-ing for a while, and then noticed a full-grown deer, replete with antlers, grazing nearby, apparently not having seen me. It was a lovely sight, and I kept still and quiet, watching it, until it moved off. I took this as a signal to get up myself, and went back to the road, and before long, got a ride across the border to Italy, where I was dropped near the entrance to an autostrada. Now, not having eaten since the previous morning, (we’d had nothing on the train, and after leaving Rene, I’d had nothing), I was very hungry, but there was nowhere in sight where I might get buy anything. Suddenly, while waiting for another ride, I saw a brown-paper bag beside the road and went over to investigate. Imagine my surprise and delight to find, upon opening it, some fresh bread-rolls! Where they’d come from or how long they’d been there, I had no idea, but it couldn’t have been long as they were still warm; oh, how good they tasted!

Just then, a Dutchman came by on his way to some business in Florence and Rome, and picked me up, glad to have a compan-ion himself. His name was Peter, and I accompanied him until his journey’s end and even returned with him as far as Zurich, 10 days later. Although this was a good ride and I got to see places I otherwise might not have seen (and he paid for most of my food and accommodation from his expense-account, refus-ing to let me spend my own money), it was too fast, and I regret-ted not spending longer in those ancient places. With him, how-ever, I saw something of Florence ~ the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio ~ and the Vatican, the Achtung and the Pantheon in Rome, but not much else, and I never went to those cities ever again, much as I’d have loved to.

I forget if I stopped to see Rene again in Zurich, so probably didn’t, and had no more contact with him. Soon afterwards, this trip also came to an end, and I returned to England and home once more; winter was coming on, and it’s not much fun to be on the road in that season.

I hibernated for the winter, as it were, living on my savings from the year before, until in March ’68, I headed off again, even though there was still snow in parts. There were few other hitch-hikers in Germany as I passed through this time, and it was still cold when I got to Venice once more. There, in the Youth Hos-tel, I met an American girl named Tracy, and we agreed to travel together since we were going the same way. She wanted to go to Klagenfurt in southern Austria for a festival there, and as it wasn’t far off our route, I went with her. We had no place to stay when we got there at night, and so, with some Dutch guys we met, we went to the railway-station intending to find a stationary train and climb into one of the empty carriages. We thought this would be easy, but were not prepared for the security there, and so, while crossing the tracks, we were suddenly caught in searchlight beams, and a voice rang out of the loudspeakers, “Achtung! Achtung!” We felt like fugitives on the run! Retreating to the station waiting-room, we were soon approached by the police, who searched our bags and were surprised not to find any syringes, thinking we were junkies. “Where are the nee-dles?” they demanded, but because we had none, nor drugs of any kind, they had to let us go. We remained in the waiting-room the rest of the night, where it was warm, and saw little of the fes-tival the next day. So much for Klagenfurt!

From there Tracy and I hitch-hiked to Ljubljana, not far away, where we were warmly received by the Kavseks, and stayed with them a couple of days. I then split up with her before re-suming my journey to Greece. In Thessalonika I sold blood at the blood-bank and then went to Piraeus, to catch a ferry to Haifa, Israel. I don’t know why, but sadly, I didn’t go into Athens, so missed the architectural treasures of that ancient city, and never returned again. I enjoyed the three or four-day voyage ~ my first sea-trip ~ in the company of other young travelers, stop-ping briefly at Limasol, Cyprus, before docking at Haifa, from where I hitched to Jerusalem, reaching there in the middle of one of the fierce dust-storms that occasionally hit that area, known as simoons; it was also still quite cold. I went to stay in Holy Land House again, this time in a united Jerusalem; the wall that had divided the Old and New cities had been torn down, and we could now go anywhere.

There was a small restaurant just inside Herod’s Gate in the Old City, run especially for travelers like myself by a hugely fat and friendly Arab who’d been nicknamed ‘Uncle Mustache’ because of his prodigious facial appendage. I often used to eat there, even during my first visit the previous year, and he would serve us kindly, sometimes not charging us for rice-pudding or tea; and although his English was limited, he always tried, and I can hear his voice now as I write this, saying, in response to our thanks, and rolling his r’s, “Forrr Nothing!” or “You arrre wel-come!” I’ve often wondered what became of the dear old man!

In the hotel, I met an Anglo-Dane named David, who played a saz he had with him; I teamed up with him and became his hash-smoking partner, although his excessive use of it (he’d been in Israel quite a long time by then) has resulted in him be-coming schizophrenic or exacerbated his tendency to this. From my own experience, I saw how it induced paranoia in some people, myself included, and made us very self-conscious, think-ing that everyone around us was talking about and plotting against us; everything that was said and unsaid in our hearing would be interpreted as referring to us ~ a most uncomfortable feeling. Anyway, there were some good and funny times even so. One time, outside the Damascus Gate, we were quite stoned, watching people coming and going. Israelis could now freely shop in the Old City, where things were cheaper than in the New. We saw a man on his way home from there, with a brightly-painted ceramic pot; and ahead of him, on the sidewalk, as if deliberately waiting for him, was a stone ~ not a large one, and not a pebble, either ~ and he’d not seen it, as he was hold-ing his pot at arms-length, directly in line for it; we could tell what would happen, and were unable to prevent it, as we were some distance away. The pot struck the stone and shattered, leaving him holding just the rim! He looked at it dumbfounded. We didn’t hear what he said, but it could have been “Bah!” or “Oh, damn!” or “Blast it!” or maybe something stronger, as he flung it away in disgust and embarrassment. We burst into uncontrollable laugh-ter, and laughed all the way back to our hotel. A hash-high has that effect at times, when it’s a good high ~ it causes one to laugh uproariously at almost anything; another is that it makes one very hungry, especially for sweet things.

After some time in Jerusalem, we went to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba, where there was a small hippie colony in one of the wadis (dry gullies) outside the town. We stayed there a few days, camping under the open sky (the weather permitted this). Some hippies had jobs in the town on construction-sites and such like. There was more freedom to smoke dope in Eilat than in Jerusalem, where we always had to be on the look-out, as the Israeli police were cracking down on it, and where we suspected some of the Arab hotel-boys of acting as informers, though maybe this was just our paranoia.

Back in Jerusalem, I bumped into Tracy, who had followed me to Israel, but we’d gone our separate ways, and didn’t resume our relationship, such as it had been. Easter came, and I fol-lowed the Procession of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, and was so caught up in the emotional fervor of it that the idea of becoming a pastor came into my mind, and persisted until I re-turned to England yet again after another month or so. I left Is-rael by steamer from Haifa, but this time to Istanbul, and here’s where another of my memory-blanks lies, as I remember nothing at all of the passage through the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara; what a loss! I was never to repeat that journey.

One day, in Istanbul, needing to change money (and at that time, there was a flourishing black-market), I followed a guy into a restaurant, where he told me to wait while he took my $20-bill to the back. Too late, I realized that there was another way out, and that my money was on the run; off I set in pursuit, but flip-flops are useless for running, so he soon lost me in the maze of alleys; I learned something from this, although not enough to prevent myself ever being cheated again.

Anyway, back home, I had the full support of my parents for my idea, especially my mother, who’d been a Methodist lay-minister for many years, conducting Sunday services in many chapels in her parish; she was quite good, and popular, too, and while I was still in school, I used to join them (dad was the driver, and went only because mum did; if she hadn’t gone, he wouldn’t have) with brother George, and usually, after the service, we would be invited to someone’s house for supper, and had some sumptuous repasts; people were very kind and spread their best out for us; it was very nice.

My parents had devout Pentecostal friends at the sea-side re-sort where we used to vacation in the summer ~ indeed, that’s how we met them, and strangely enough, their surname was the same as ours: Houghton, though no relation, and it’s not a common name like Smith or Jones. They were good people, too, and older than my parents. Anyway, mum and dad took me to visit them, thinking they might advise me, but when we got there and told them of my experience and inspiration in Jerusalem (leaving out my dope-smoking) they were somehow not im-pressed or enthusiastic, and even made disparaging remarks about my long hair, as if that really mattered. And that was the end of my short-lived idea to become a pastor, so it couldn’t have been very strong, and later, I came to be grateful to the old couple for not encouraging me; inadvertently, they had saved me!

It was in ’68 that Glen’s marriage broke up; both she and Dennis had been unfaithful ~ he more than she, but then, this is a man’s world, isn’t it? He got custody of the kids, and she visiting-rights only. She went to live with her new man, Harold, who she mar-ried in ’72. Dennis, however, poisoned the kids’ minds against her so much that she was unable to stand their rudeness and gave up seeing them. Her second son, Alan, did come round briefly, many years later, but Anthony refuses to see her until now as I write this ~ 2006. She has two daughters from her sec-ond marriage, Deena and Karin, who have children of their own.

That summer I went to Amsterdam, which was soon to join my list of favorite cities. I visited Loek, someone I’d met on the boat from Haifa to Istanbul, at his home outside the city, but his par-ents were not welcoming, so I had to sleep outside somewhere. I then went into town, to Dam Square, which had become a congregating point for hippies from all over, and there, while busking on the street with the saz I’d bought in Istanbul and had learned to pluck the strings of, I met Pete from Denmark; we had some fun in Amsterdam, spending our evenings at Paradiso, an old church that had been converted into a psychedelic night-club, which was really a cool place where anyone could do their own thing without feeling odd. There was another similar place called Fantasio, but we preferred the first, as there was no charge to go in.

The Heineken brewery is situated in Amsterdam, and you could join a tour around the place ~ again, free ~ at the end of which you could drink as much beer as you liked; we went several times, and came out quite foolishly drunk!

While hanging out at Dam Square, an Italian asked us if we’d like to go to a party. Thinking it might provide us an opportunity for a shower and a place to spend the night, we eagerly ac-cepted, and he took us by bus to a place out in the suburbs, where he was staying with a divorcee named Jeanne. We had our shower, and enjoyed the party with a few other people, and afterwards slept on the floor. I kept in touch with Jeanne after that, and even went to stay with her and her two young sons in 1970.

Pete had been in Paris during the student demonstrations in ‘68, and was arrested by the police, driven out of town, and told not to return; it was his first trip out of Denmark. He asked me to go home with him, so off we set to hitch-hike, and while passing through Germany, took refuge in an abandoned house off the highway one night, as we had nowhere else to stay. It was dark as we crept inside, and the place was really eerie; I’d only just met him, and didn’t know what he was like regarding such things, but as we lay there on the floor, we heard all kinds of strange noises, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if a ghost had appeared! We made it through the night, however, and re-sumed our journey and the next night reached his home, where we were welcomed by his parents and siblings, who were really kind. Pete introduced me to some of his friends, and I had a good time there, until I left for Copenhagen, to stay for some days with a couple I’d met in Israel, before going to stay with Finn again; he was no longer living at his land-lady’s place be-cause in the meantime, he had married a friend of Liz, and ~ like Rene ~ had changed quite a lot. We had no contact after that.

Back in Germany, I met a young guy from Stuttgart who called himself Snuffy. I was wearing a cap at the time, with my hair stuffed into it, as it was harder to get rides with long hair than with short. I took off my cap and my hair tumbled out, to his sur-prise; he said, “I wondered why you had such short hair!” We hitch-hiked south together for a couple of days, and at one point got a ride with some crazy Arabs driving fast and erratically. At that time, I was writing poetry, and some verses come back to me now:

“The road unwinds beneath the wheels;
How is it to be dead, do you know how it feels?”

“We passed a few cars on the autobahn;
Yippee, Frankfurt, here we come.”

“Snuffy was a friendly fellow;
He turned black to white and blue to yellow.”

Silly days, but carefree and funny. I left Snuffy and returned to Amsterdam, but by then it was getting cold again, and it’s no fun to be on the road in winter, so I went back to England to get ready for my next trip.

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