Hitching a “raite”

If you happened to hitch a number of rides you certainly know how local people tend to react when you bring up the matter.
“Hitching here?!? Are you nuts? This is the most dangerous place in the world!” or “Don’t even bother trying, nobody is gonna pick you up here!”.
It happens all the time in any country and Mexico is no exception.
Now, it’s not that I don’t respect people’s concerns, but… They are not generally true.
Yes, some places are more sketchy then others but normally hitchhikers are not targeted. And yes, sometimes you have to wait a bit longer to get a lift — at times waaay longer, like 6 hours on the Route 40 in Argentina, a few years ago.


But, basically, there’s no place a good smile and a clean look won’t bring you. So, my point is, be alert but be positive!

When it comes to Mexico, finding a raite (as they call it in northern Baja California) can be extremely easy.
The other day, for instance, I was in the middle of “5 y 10”, the most trafficked intersection in Tijuana, a 4-million-inhabitant city.


You all know it’s a desperate mission to get a ride in the middle of a big city: drivers are in a rush and they have stuff to do, not in the mood to pick someone up, too many junctions, nowhere to stop, a spread feeling of mistrust towards your fellow human beings, and I could go on forever. But Mexican divers are of a different kind.

Let me introduce you Jose “I just drove into a bus” Ramirez.


He pulls his truck over in the middle of the road careless of the line of cars honking at him, invites me in and shakes my hand.
“A couple of weeks ago I was driving my truck when I hit a bus and dragged it over the other side of the road. A woman got off and started yelling at me but I swear to God it wasn’t my fault! The bus didn’t stop at the sign…” And he goes on “Actually that wasn’t my first accident. I fell asleep while driving. 3 times. Not too bad though, I was fine, but they had to pull the truck out of the ditch.” He speeds up as we leave the city entering the highway. “Now you see me all nice and clean, I’m a different person. But if you had known me 3 years ago, man… I was going in and out of jail, at least 7 times. I was into drugs and gangs… But now I’m out, thanks God, I’ve got a family and a job that I like. Hey, by the way, I’ve been driving 13 hours today, you gotta keep me awake, OK?”