Last Day of 34

Today I got a message from one of the regular readers (still having hard time to believe that you are out there) that my texts are getting shorter. The last photo post from New Orleans contributed to this. So there are going to be not one, but two text, no photos posts. Not for the lack of topics but because there was so much going on for two days.

After eating and resting in New Orleans, I went to check the other side of the Mississippi River. Forests and hay fields by the roadside were replaced with bayous and fields of sugarcane. What did not change is the weather. Storms are an everyday occurrence and sometimes I’m lucky and they pass by me, but other times this is not the case. And on those occasions it’s nice if I manage to find some shelter to weather it out.
On Friday it started to rain at around 12:30. I was on a country road with bayous and swamps to the left and right. Initial raindrops were becoming heavier and it was obvious that I will need a place to shelter. Luckily I noticed a scrapyard to my right and there was a small shed that must have served as a guard house in the past. Meagre roof will not provide much of a shelter but better that than out in the rain. Just as I wanted to park Lou so that he gets some shelter as well, I’ve heard someone shouting in my direction. I went to check out and it turned to be the porter. It was self-explanatory what I’m looking for so he showed me a building with a large covered area behind it and I went to shelter there. Happy that I have a roof over my head I have treated myself with a cigarette and waited for the rain to stop. Just before 14h the porter tells me that they are closing the facility for today and that I will have to leave, back on the road and rain. Not really excited, but that’s how it is. Unless he could give me a lift to some other place where I could shelter. So I have asked him for a lift and he agreed. Daryl, the porter gave me a lift to truck stop that was about 30km away. There was a large gas station (with a large covered area). We said goodbye but not before he gave me his phone no. just in case I would need help.
Since it was still raining and ti showed no signs of stopping I got myself a coffee. As I was standing with my hot coffee next to Lou, a trucker started talking to me. The conversation started pretty much standardly with questions where I’m from, where I’m going, how long I’m on the road,… Once we finished smoking our cigarettes, Bobby the trucker went to the roadside restaurant next door to grab something to eat. I on the other hand focused on the rest of my coffee and writing my diary.
About half an hour later Bobby comes out of the restaurant saying: “Come here, I’ll feed you!” There was no room to object, so I did not. I follow him into the restaurant where I receive a decent portion of fried shrimps and fish.
While we eat the conversation continues into somewhat less standard direction. We talk about his work and family. It’s interesting how, when traveling, you can open up to a completely stranger that you see for the first time. You talk about very personal subjects and in a way you would, back home, talk about it only with closest friends or even maybe not even with them. There are no excessive constraints, no fears that someone would abuse your vulnerability. I think that it’s the fact that you are talking to a complete strange which is the key to being so comfortable with it. There is high level of certitude that you are talking to someone you will never see again.
Time flies by and all of a sudden it’s 17:30 when Bobby goes to his truck. I stay alone with Lou and start to think does it make sense to return to the road today. In about half an hour I should anyhow start looking for a place to pitch my tent. At the same time, here I do have a roof over my head in the trucker’s lounge. Given the fact that it has rained for a good part of the day, the decision was clear. I’ll stay!
The day started to turn into evening and less and less people come through the lounge. I treat myself with a shower and another coffee before saying goodbye to the last day I’m 34.

With a Smile, until next time!
Simon

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