How do you begin to describe a man such as Andre Brugiroux . Some have called him the world’s most traveled hitchhiker, while others have described him as the ‘Marco Polo’ of modern times. A puerperal drifter during his younger life, and a man who has dedicated over fifty years his to his passion for world travel and its diverse cultures.
In 1955 at the very young age of 17, Andre would step from the door the family home in Paris, with a grand total of 10 francs to his name. With no firm idea on his future, he would then travel and work his way throughout Europe, picking up odd jobs along the way. During this time, Andre learned the foundations of several new languages, that would no doubt be of great benefit to him throughout the coming years. His European travels lasted roughly seven years, but also included a compulsory listing of military service in the Congo during 1958 and 1959.
The Hitchhiker is Born
After returning from military service, Andre made his way to the North American continent, and found employment in Canada, working as a translator from 1965-1967. It was this employment that was a crucial steppingstone to his forthcoming world journey, by giving him the ability to earn the necessary funds for him to travel the world extensively, hitchhiking non-stop for six straight years.
Andre was as prudent with his money, as any frugal traveler could be. On average he would live on no more than a single dollar a day (although this needs to be put into perspective as it was a very long time ago). This single dollar would also include the cost of his visas, accommodation and extras like film for his camera. To make his savings go even further, Andre would also hitch rides everywhere he went, but he was not your average hitchhiker . He would not only manage to hitch lifts with countless cars and trucks, but was also able to hitch rides on planes, yachts and ships. It was these rides that no doubt helped him stick to that very tight budget of dollar a dollar a day, and allowed his to see such a great portion of the world, and gave him legendary status among many of his hitchhiking peers for years to come.
Being from an era well before water bottled in plastic, Andre would drink river water whenever he was thirsty (he became seriously ill from doing this in Pakistan), and ate at the local markets, on a diet of fruit and vegetables. He would also sleep rough on many nights, when ever he wasn’t offered accommodation, but does admit to sleeping in a hotel on one occasion, when the Soviet government forced him to do so, whilst hitchhiking through the USSR. Andre’s travels saw him live with some of the most diverse cultures on earth. From the polar extremes of living with the hippies of San Francisco, to the head hunters from the jungles of Borneo. He also spent time with Buddhist Monks in Thailand, and studied yoga at an Indian Ashram. Throughout his travels Andre would live with and like the local people, traveling the length of the Americas, throughout the expansive Pacific Islands, the Far and Middle East, the USSR, and nearly every country on the African continent. He was jailed and deported on several occasions, and was even mistaken for one of Che Guevara’s gorillas whilst in South America. He has documented many hardships that he has seen throughout his world journey, and has been caught up in wars and other internal turmoil.
Throughout all this, Andre never contemplated giving up on his quest to experience the world for what it is, in all its misery and glory.
Returning home after eighteen years on the road, and after visiting some 135 countries by hitchhiking over 400,000 kilometers via every means of transport possible. Andre began to write the first of several books ‘The Earth is But One Country’ , but would also continue to make countless trips for the next 30 odd years, to the many countries and territories he had not yet seen. It wasn’t until 2004 when he crossed the border into the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang, that he realized his childhood dream of visiting every country and territory on earth. This personal quest took the man over 50 years to complete, and in my opinion Andre Brugiroux is one of the greatest contemporary travelers of modern times, and has therefore been forthrightly inducted into the ‘Dromomaniacs Society’ here at DigiDrift.com.
For a little more reading on the amazing tales of hitchhiker, Andre Brugiroux, you can visit his website and purchase a copy of ‘The Earth is But One Country’