A viral story

So Friday 13 March came. Got up at 4:30, on the, slightly quieter than normal, buses 35, 2G and 20 to the Kaunas Plentas stop, and walked onto the A1. About five minutes after arriving at my usual spot, I had a ride to the Circle K petrol on the A1 at Kaunas.

A coffee later, it took a mere six minutes to get ride two, to the petrol station with the same name, but this time on the A5, just after the junction. Here the wait was a bit longer, 17 minutes, for a ride that would take me, mistake, to Białystok. I should, as with any ride not going at least past Warszawa, have gotten out at the third same named station before the border to find a ride taking me directly past Warszawa.

The result, a one-hour plus walk in Białystok, until the 8x65 junction, where, sitting on the guard rail, it took just 15 minutes to get a ride from Janek, who greeted me with a firm handshake. We shook hands again at MOP Trojany, nearly 150 km down the 8. This MOP turned out to be a disaster, and after about an hour I decided to take the plunge, and to walk back, 9.8 km, to MOP Gaj, but 2.3 km before I got there, I stuck out my hand at only the third car going that way, and the middle-aged couple gave me a ride to the MOP.

It still took nearly an hour to get a ride. Two Lithuanian guys took me to MOP Nowostawy, the last MOP on the A2 before the exit towards Łódź, they were on their way to Kassel, and planning to return on Saturday - I hope they managed to do so!

On the MOP I had something warm to eat, put my mobile on the charger for a while, and then Audronė called, telling me that the Polish government was planing to close the borders, which would have implied a forced stay in Belgium for weeks, or even longer! So I walked out of the MOP, back to the bridge over the A2 (just crossing it would have been a lot faster, and given the relative sparse traffic, it would not have been that dangerous - but don't try this at home yourself…)

On MOP Niesułków it took nearly an hour to get a ride, with a 30-year old Polish woman returning from Magdeburg. She offered to take me all the way to the PL-LT border, a detour of probably some 250(+) km for her, but in the end I told/convinced her that a ride to Augustów would be more than enough. She dropped me on the big TIR parking on the 61. For a short while, it was 2:08 when we arrived, I tried to get another ride, but none of the truck-drivers arriving was moving on, so in the end I sat down in the petrol station, and got some rest and very little sleep.

Eventually, at about 6:00 I made another circle around the TIR parking, and walking back along the other side, I spotted a Lithuanian car, and without much discussion, the driver gave me a ride to the fourth petrol station from that brand. Much to our amazement, there were absolutely no checks of any kind at the border!

The ninth and final ride followed 45 minutes later, and again the driver didn't have any hesitation when I asked him for a ride, eventually dropping me off near the railway station in Vilnius.

The Polish border is now closed, Lithuania is in a state of shutdown, with cases of the corona virus still way below those in other parts of Europe (and the same holds true for Poland), and I have no clue when I will be able to get back to Belgium,only time will tell.

The conclusion? As Juan Pablo Villarino has already shown the world, hospitality and solidarity do not stop under the adverse conditions.

Last updated on 11 May 2020 (Changed round-robin forward link)