THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Agustina Iovane still remembers the day she received a world atlas. As a child, she was always curious and the atlas introduced her to a whole new world. As Asia captivated her, she began reading about the continent. That's how she came across Taj Mahal which she dreamt of visiting one day. And now, at 29, when she finally got to see it, her jaws dropped. “I wanted to cry. I got the first glimpse while on the motorcycle, and it was magnificent. I couldn't believe that I had finally seen it. You see so many pictures in books and suddenly you see it in front of you. Taj Mahal is perfect,” says the Argentinian who has been on a road trip for the past four years.
She started hitchhiking once she was out of university. Starting from Thailand, Agustina has covered 13 countries. At first, she was scared to hitchhike all alone and went about trying to find a companion. Later, she started her journey with her partner. It has only been two years since she has been travelling solo. She testifies the overall journey has given her only good experiences. At the same time, she also ensures that safety isn't compromised. “The driver does not choose you, you choose the driver. I have rejected many cars. You can learn many things about the driver just by observing the way his/her car stops.
Communication is very important. When you talk to them, you can hear your instinct,” she says.
She was in the city recently, having journeyed to south India. This is Agustina's third time in the country since her hitchhiking journey began. But she still feels this is her first time. “I have heard that Kerala is one of the best states in the country. There was a stark contrast in the landscape. Of all the countries I have visited, I love travelling in India more,” she says.
Four years on the road has taught her many things. “I feel family and society put things inside you. But when you start travelling, you are away from home. That gives you perspective. You start meeting a lot of people and learn new things. That is how I started to break my internal structure. Travel has also made me trust people,” says Agustina, who has hitchhiked over 15,000 kilometres.
She ensures that she hitchhikes only 250 kilometres a day and winds up the journey an hour before sunset.
Ahead of her journey from the capital to Varkala on Sunday, Agustina whispers that she will get to know more about the state once the journey begins. After winding up the travel in Kerala in Kochi, she plans to cover other destinations and then leave for Nepal for trekking. She hopes to return to her family in Bella Vista in December.