Don’t you miss the start of quarantine? Baking banana bread, making dalgona espresso, enjoying Ludo on-line and catching up on all the online collection on our lists?
Now it seems like we’re all simply lifeless inside, with no eagerness to create, bake, write or be taught new abilities anymore.
Nonetheless, whereas issues might have been monotonous for many of us, that is not the case for Maria Soomro, an ex-banker and a full-time backpacker, hitchhiker and trekker by ardour.
After spending years in a financial institution cabin, Maria realized her calling couldn’t be discovered behind the display screen. She resigned from her job to observe her desires and shortly came upon that her coronary heart is on the street.
Starting of the hitchhiking journey
Simply earlier than the lockdown started, Maria packed her baggage from Karachi to return to Islamabad and commenced a journey for the mountains. What units her other than the remainder?
In contrast to most travellers, she has been hitchhiking (journey by getting free lifts in passing autos) throughout Pakistan.
Though intimidating and difficult at occasions, Maria will get a excessive from hitchhiking.
“Touring is an indescribable expertise in itself however hitchhiking is a life-changing expertise that makes you end up. You get to fulfill attention-grabbing individuals from various backgrounds who share their life tales with you if you confide in them. On the identical time, you get monetary savings on transportation whereas having an thrilling and unpredictable journey journey,” she advised Daybreak Pictures.
One wonders how Maria obtained the braveness to go away dwelling – however 5 years of touring with teams had given her sufficient braveness and confidence to enterprise out on her personal this time.
Convincing her dad and mom was the primary problem she encountered.
“They’d confidence in me however they had been nervous about what different individuals would say and it took slightly convincing for them to let me go,” she added.
One other main problem awaited Maria when she reached Islamabad. “Just when I was about to leave the capital, the lockdown was enforced and I was stuck there exploring surrounding areas like Bani Gala, Barakahu, Shadrah, Chattar and Padhana Village.”
Maria waited until the lockdown eased and ventured up north. She hitchhiked to Nathia Gali after which Miranjani, Mushkpuri, Mingora in Swat to Dir, Chitral and Kalash. She then hitchhiked all the way in which to the Rakaposhi Base Camp, Astore, Rama Lake, Bulan, Gorikot, Tarishing, Rupal Valley and Nangaparbat Base Camp.
How does Maria guarantee security?
“Hitchhiking is not as risky as most people believe. if you avoid traveling after sunset, it’s safe. I have met some of the kindest Pakistanis during my hitchhiking adventures and have never faced difficulties but it’s important to listen to your intuition that will help you stay away from trouble,” revealed Maria.
When requested how she ensures her security, she talked about that apart from trusting her intestine feeling, she makes certain she has downloaded offline maps along with her and retains a knife along with her always.
Maria’s mode of transportation is dependent upon what’s out there – automobiles, wagons, rickshaws, jeeps, even tractors. She makes do with no matter she finds on the street.
“I always initiate conversations to know the person and if I feel uncomfortable, I just ask them to stop at some petrol station. Whenever I sit in a vehicle, I send my live location to any trustworthy friend of mine with vehicle details,” she added.
The joys, community and kindness that comes with it
When requested if she was ever scared, Maria advised Pictures that in her earlier travels, she as soon as took a carry from truck coming again to Karachi from Hyderabad with a good friend.
“That’s when I realised hitchhiking is not something everyone wants to do; it’s crazy waiting on the road for free rides so I decided to challenge myself and pushed my limits to do something different. Pakistani people are so supportive and they find my travels and stories interesting. I have made hundreds of connections during my adventures and all of them are now in touch with me on social media,” she stated.
For Maria, hitchhiking is straightforward and straightforward. She stands on the street and faces the route of incoming automobiles, extends her thumb (an indication of hitchhiking) and other people discover.
“There are only a few possibilities that you just’ll meet individuals going to your last vacation spot so that you at all times have to make extra stops to your vacation spot. I test maps and ask them about my last vacation spot, if no then I full my journey by making extra stops to succeed in vacation spot,” she advised us.
Typically individuals discover it bizarre that she’s standing on the street. Others assume she doesn’t have cash to journey. As soon as, a man got here and gave her 1000 rupees pondering she wants cash.
One other time, she requested to hitchhike on an area wagon from Mastuj to Laspur however there was no house in it.
“The individuals on the wagon made house for me. One man stood all through to make room for me,” she remembers.
It’s this kindness that makes Maria go on for months with a small backpack and some necessities that embrace a flash mild, knife, sleeping bag, tent and mattress, comfy footwear and markers and cardboard to put in writing the identify of locations one needs a carry for.
Dream come true
Hitchhiking throughout Pakistan has not solely been a dream come true for Maria however has additionally given her the arrogance to dream greater. At present, she is in Astore, hitchhiking in the direction of Skardu and exploring small valleys and villages crossing Deosai Plains – however as soon as she’s accomplished, she needs to go all the way in which to Iran when the border opens.
The journey has modified Maria in additional methods than one.
“For me, traveling is an act of self-discovery. When you’re in contact with different cultures, religions, places and people, you start to understand better how you think and who you are. The more you travel, the more you realise that there’s no such thing as right or wrong. It’s just the way you perceive things and everyone has a different perception”.
Hitchhiking and touring solo across the nation has additionally made Maria register that something is feasible.
“I am the one woman from my household who’s touring and exploring on their lonesome and breaking stereotypes. My intention is to encourage and encourage women, notably these from a Sindhi background.”
Being on the street additionally helped Maria perceive that change doesn’t come in a single day. “It takes time, effort and focus but once you set your mind to it, nothing is impossible”.
Subsequent time you start to really feel monotonous whipping some espresso, baking banana bread or taking an hour-long course, remind your self of Maria and her daring journey hitchhiking throughout the nation exploring among the most stunning valleys and cities in Pakistan – possibly she evokes you to do the identical!