From across the ocean, hitchhiking in Russia appears to be something exotic. First, there are the huge distances, sparsely populated areas and a harsh climate. Second (and this is always the main focus) it’s dangerous. All this makes a Westerner look at Russian hitchhiking as something like a space odyssey.
There are no pat answers to these questions. On the one hand, it is not “a space journey” and there is nothing terribly extreme about it. On the other hand, anyone who has ever hitched a ride can recall episodes that fit the cliche. That may give rise to some confusion.
Hitchhiking is the subculture of the young, and a paterfamilias standing by the roadside trying to hitch a ride cuts an odd figure. In the 1970s and 80s, hitchhiking was part of the ideology of those who could be loosely called “Soviet hippies.” Hitchhiking today is mostly popular among those who are 20 to 25. Today we are witnessing the revival of this extreme culture.
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