Hitchhiking Colorado- Riding a single-humped camel


Date: September 1, 2013
Time: 1:00
Wait: less than ten minutes

Blue and gray clouds disperse around the mountain range and I can feel the static of the weather closing in around me, yet somehow the only thing that ever happens is a few soft droplets on my forehead. A semi-truck carrying presumably Target merchandise based on the trailer’s logo pulls to the side of the road. At first, I’m elated having never been picked up by a legitimate trucker type, but then the driver jumps out, waves his hands in the air, and says, “no, I’m stopping to meet a friend here is all.”

Many transportation companies now have strict rules and regulations for the drivers, not allowing them to pick up hitchhikers, because of liability reasons. I’ve heard and read this, but like most rules, they seem to be open for interpretation. The driver looks me over after I explain to him exactly where I’m heading and says, ” well, let’s see what happens when my friend gets here” and then the rain starts, and it’s more than a few droplets on my forehead.

This premise never surfaces, as someone pulls over within five minutes. His name is Ryan, and he is studying biology at Colorado State University in the Springs. “I’m going to the Denver airport to pick up a friend,” he explains.

Driving through the interstate construction, he tells me about his travels thorugh Morocco and Spain. ” I rode on a Dromedary camel, which has only one hump,” he tells me. “Camels are generally the most grumpy of creatures. They stink, they spit at you, and make unsettling grunting noises frequently– but it was a great time.” Ryan has studied both Spanish and Arabic languages, and he says tha tArabic is one of the most difficult languages to grasp. ” The language has nine different tenses rather than the English three,” he explains. “Modern Arabic is a language conformed to the writing of the culture at large and based off the Koran. Since it comes from many different dialects, there are different words that mean ‘what’ for example… it can get confusing.” Ryan spent six months in Europe and norther Africa altogether.

Although Ryan is a biology major, he doesn’t think of science as something that will save-the-world, but rather sees it as a positive tool. We pass alongside an I-25 traffic jam and marvel at slusters of cars going nowhere and clouding the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. “For example, using sicenece we could design micro-organisms that eat away at the CO2 at a molecular level, reducing overall emissions from the big city traffic. That’s hard science, and we could eventually do that– but I think sometimes it misses the big picture… why not implement different means of tranpsortation rather than everyone driving? Or design transportation that does not emit CO2 in the first place…”

Ryan and I talk about travel writers from Jack Kerouac to Henry Miller. I give him a few copies of my books and we part ways.

What if science leads us in the wrong direction long-term? What are the implications o four rapid expansion of technology and exponential growth of human populations long-term? We only have solid predictions and no real answers. Every year, the traffic increases.


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