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To Meet Hippies

To Meet Hippies

AUSTRIA | Saturday, 10 May 2014 | Views [655]

It was well hidden, the little blue house down the street in the country side of Innsbruck. I parked the car in the street and made my way into the backyard, climbing carefully over the rusted fence. I advanced hesitantly, “am I at the right address?’’. The uncut dry grass rubbed against my feet as I made my way towards the house. It was old and resembled a barn: thin layers of paint left, square windows too close to each other and a door on the side that seemed to have been misplaced. It looked odd.  

A small group of young people were eating at a picnic table while playing acoustic guitar. “Hi” I said, “I am the couch surfer, I am looking for Stephan”. They looked at me with confusion. The tallest man of the group could not have been more than 25, he gave me warm smile “My name is Matt, Stephan tends to forget about his couch surfers, he is out sailing tonight and he probably will not be back before morning. You may still sleep here, we have a mattress somewhere”.  The sun was setting; the air was leaving my exposed skin with chills. Matt grabbed a wooden rocking chair and made space for me at the picnic table. “Where are you from” a girl asked, “Canada” I said. They proceeded with their conversation in German. I could not gather two words they were saying, but I managed to feel comfortable.  I glanced around, everything felt artistic. There was a colourful 70’s Volkswagen Van parked further in the field. Everyone wore colorful handmade string bracelets and all enjoyed sharing a joint.  

They offered me some of their vegetarian leftovers. I began to chat with the girl next to me. “We are all musicians” she said. They started to sing along, the strum of the guitar being of comfort.  “We will be filming a music video tomorrow, you should join us” one of them said. I was not sure what to think, but I nodded approvingly.

As the night went along, I continued to rock myself on the delicate chair and looked up. Being so far from the city, the stars covered every inch of the sky and reminded me of the grandness of the universe. Simply put, I felt like one them that night, a true hippie. A citizen of the earth, a simple person amazed by the delicate things life has to offer.  

I woke up early the next morning; the sun lit the modest size room completely. There were no blinds. In fact, there was nothing at all, except for the flat mattress on the floor I was laying on, the four yellow walls and my luggage. Stepping outside I felt the summer’s warmth on my bare arms. Matt was sitting on the picnic table, picking his guitar. “Good morning” I said, “would you have Stephan’s cell phone number?” There was this bohemian vibe that Matt effortlessly exuded. Perhaps it was his light ripped jeans with his loose printed t-shirt, or his raspy voice that slowly said “sure... I’ll get you that no problem”.

Stephan proposed I went sailing with him. I was not sure it was the greatest or safest idea, but I left the house anyway to meet with him at the marina.  The road was quiet, driving through a rustic village and then onto the autobahn with the water by my side.

I waited for Stephan on the dock. The marina was small and crowded, with sailing boats from left to right; I was surprised we found each other easily.  He was a weird fellow. Though passionate about sailing, it did not seem to know what he was talking about. In fact, the reason he had slept on his boat the previous night he explained, was that there was “not enough wind” for him to sail back to shore. The boat had a motor, but did not feel comfortable using it. The more he spoke, the less I felt comfortable sailing with him. “Do you have life jackets on board? I asked. “No, in Austria you do not need life jackets, you can just swim!” He held my hand as I got onboard.  It was a small white sailing boat with bold writing on the side saying “Half Moon”. I sat down, the water was magnificent. You could even see a small island not far away where you could lay on the sand or take a swim. I was tempted to stay. But I could not; I did not trust Stephan as a boat captain. I took a deep breath and blurted out a thousand excuses, while I slipped over under the sail and stepped back onto the dock. Stephan’s expression was one of deep confusion, but also of insult. “I’m sorry Stephan, it’s just I don’t feel comfortable without a life jacket, maybe it’s the way I was brought up, go ahead without me. I have to go. Bye!” I fast paste walk later I was inside my rented car. “I hope he forgives me” I thought, as I left the marina.  

I could not stay another night at Stephan’s house. After leaving him by himself on his boat, I doubted I would be welcomed again. Ever so subtly I packed the rest of my things from the little blue house into my car. Matt and a few others were in the kitchen. With dirty dishes spread over the counter and Lina, the youngest one of the group, cooking spaghetti sauce, it was chaotic and harmonious at the same time. I casually told them that I was off to my next adventure and thanked them for their hospitality.  

Innsbruck is a delightful city: filled with small café’s, old architecture of every color, water which closely resembles “La Scène” in Paris and brick roads. Eventually though, I had a figure out where I would sleep that night. Being on a student budget, a hotel was out of the question, but being a little curious I thought “why not try sleeping in the car one night?” It was getting dark and I drove on the autobahn until I found a nice exit with a McDonald.  Perhaps I was not ashamed because being in a foreign country meant I knew I would not stumble across someone I knew, or maybe I would have done it in Canada too, but I took my pajamas, my tooth brush, my hair brush and my soap to the McDonalds restroom down the basement. It was quite a big space, but it had only three lonely stalls and two sinks. I cleaned my face while others looked at me suspiciously, and continued getting ready for bed regardless. The industrial light bulbs gave off a bright white light. The cracks on the beige bathroom floor and the compact porcelain sink made me feel like I was in a movie, everything looked so plain and neglected. I finished brushing my teeth and as I gazed at myself in the mirror I could not help but ask myself “how did I end up here?”   


Tags: blue house, country side, dark sky, stars, sunset

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