Hitchhiking Colorado: Thumbs Up Experiences Riding With Strangers, by J.R. Commissaris (from £1.33 Kindle edition, £4.53 paperback) This book questions how we relate to strangers. Using the author’s hitchhiking experiences in Colorado, one of the USA’s most beautiful regions, it asks us if we’ve come to be driven by fear. Commissaris writes, “many Americans are just too scared to pick up hitchhikers”. The positive experiences in this book, remind us that fear often has little to do with fact.
At times though, his nostalgia for the past is one-sided. There might have been a time when hitchhikers were more welcomed, but the same was not true of women, gays and blacks. Some of the more interesting characters he meets, include Nate: A documentary film maker who “talks fast and animated, and he seems to have enough life experiences to fill this car till it’s overflowing and bursting out the windows for breath.”There’s also the Sherlock style character of Rick who says, “I’d offer you a cigarette, but I know you don’t smoke, based on the fact that your fingernails are clean”. He goes on to add, “You learn to be observant in prison.”
Commissaris is also observant about the people he meets, and has a very readable and direct writing style. A picture of people’s diverse lives, desires and experiences, slowly builds. However, the sense of progression is limited, as the author repeats the same route through Colorado.
Unfortunately, the book is littered with typos (and a few missing links). Meanwhile, the pictures tacked on at the end of each chapter sometimes have an unprofessional look, but feel like souvenirs collected. However, the central theme of the book overrides everything else: Could we be more welcoming to one another? It’s an interesting and relevant question. Rosa Lia (Rosa’s own travel blog can be seen at http://throughthewardrobe-rosa.blogspot.co.uk/)