Thursday, 7 October 2010

New Blog

Attention all 5 readers of this blog!

I will no longer be updating this blog, since I found a way cooler blog template on Tumblr. So from now on check and bookmark the following link if you want to continue following my Balkan life :)

Lana in Serbia continues here.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Makedonija Part 10

Saturday 2 October. Skopje – Beograd. 6 hours. 4 cars. 1 truck.

Just as I think life can’t get much better. Things take a turn for the worse. Let’s just say that last night didn’t exactly turn out the way I thought it would be. So this morning I’m on the road by 9 am. Hmm…what to do, the ride back to Beograd isn’t until 4 pm. Do I want to wait all those hours for a sure thing. Or do I want to take a chance and start hitching now and perhaps get back home earlier?

I decide to risk it.

I catch two fairly short rides with old men. The first one drops me off at the local gas station. The second one at the exit to the airport. Then a truck drops me off a few km further. And another car takes me a few more km. But I’ve still not left Skopje. And the road towards Beograd looks empty. It's eerily quiet. First car passes. Doesn’t stop. 5 minutes later I see another car. This one stops. A man. Late 30s early 40s I’d say. Says he’s going far. I ask if he’s going to Serbia. Niš. Or Beograd perhaps. He says yes. He’s going to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yeah baby, I got a ride all the way back home.

This dude speaks fluent English. At the border he wants me to get out of the car and walk across the border. Says he had some real bad experiences with hitchhikers in the past. Hmm…I’m curious how bad. But I don’t dare to ask. So I get out of the car and walk across both borders and then get back on the car. We pretty much drive non stop to Beograd. Fine with me. The less we stop, the quicker I get home. We talk about his work. He’s in buying and selling business. In Dubai. Before that he was in Afghanistan. I spent a good 5 hours in that car, so we, I mean I, talk about all kinds of topics. This dude likes to listen, doesn’t want to talk much himself. Every time I stop talking for a few minutes. You know, just to catch my breath. He taps me on my knee to tell me to keep talking. Hmm…I’m tired, since I didn’t sleep much the night before, but then again, I want to keep talking to keep him satisfied. And I’d rather talk, then have him touch me again. Cause the last time he touched me, it was a few seconds longer than appropriate. So I talk about anything and everything that crosses my mind. You see this is the bad thing about drivers who do speak and understand English. In this instance, I feel kinda obligated to talk, since I speak the language. When I’m in a car with Macedonian/Serbian speakers I can just pretend I don’t speak the language. Well, I don’t really have to pretend. But then it’s OK to be quiet.

Then we start talking about movies. I name some of my all time favourite movies. I ask him to name some of his. He says: American Pie. Hmm…this dude is in his 40s and that is his favourite movie?! Anyways, I ask what else. Then he asks me how to call 'types' of movies. I say: genre. He then asks: is erotica a genre? I’m like, uhm… He’s like, I really want to watch some erotica movies...


I’m thinking are we there yet. This ride has been taking way too long.

Then when we finally reach Beograd, I couldn’t be more relieved. I can't wait to get out of this car. I mean, this guy was nice, we had some good conversation, but I guess if you spend a lot of time alone in the car with another man, no matter how decent they appeared to be in the beginning, no matter whether they are married or not, their mind just goes places. And they will try. They will always try. It’s sad, but I guess that’s just what men think who pick up female hitchhikers.

When I’m out of the car, I think to myself what it would have been like had I waited for the ride at 4 pm with the guys from yesterday. Would that have been a better ride? Would they have kept their hands to themselves? Would their favourite movie be American Pie as well? Well, I will never know. And I guess this is the nature of hitching. You never know who you end up in the car with. I ended up meeting some amazing people through this. And some that were not so amazing. It’s intimidating. It’s risky.
“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”

-Leo F. Buscaglia

I totally agree. Can't wait to stick my thumb out again :)

Monday, 4 October 2010

Makedonija Part 9

Friday 1 October. Struga - Skopje. 5 hours. 3 cars.

I say goodbye to A. and walk to my HH spot. There, an old man walks up to me. Asks me where I'm going. I say Skop...Before he let's me finish, he asks for sex. Come on. Give me a break. But this freak doesn't want to leave me alone. The thing is I don't want to leave this spot, since it's a great HH spot. But this guy is blocking the path. He clearly isn't planning on going anywhere either. So, I get on the first car that stops, which takes me to Ohrid. Not really my way, but anything to get away from this creep.

The nice couple drops me off at the exit to Ohrid and I walk towards the road to Skopje. I stick my thumb out and first car stops. Two men. Going to Kicevo. Hey, that's my way. So I get on. They don't speak English though. But the driver calls a friend of his and gives the phone to me. Nacko, the guy on the phone, assures me that the guys are good people and that it's safe to get in their car. That I don't have to worry blabla...I tell him I already got on the car.

Silence on the other side of the line.

Oh, he says.

I guess he didn't expect that.

He tells me he wants to meet me in Kicevo. I tell him, I don't have much time since I've got to get to Skopje. He tells me to stay in the car with these two guys and just meet him in Kicevo. So pushy. Of course I stay in the car. So we get to Kicevo. Sit at some bar and we wait for Nacko to show up. Then he appears. First thing he says is: "I have to tell you that you are really brave". Uhm. I thought you said your friends are good people. So what's the big deal? But he is like there are so many bad people out there. Yeah, I know. Why do people keep reminding me of that? It’s not helping me at this point, you know. I still have to make my way to Skopje. And all the way to Belgrade. So stop saying these things and just let me be.

Anyways, we talk some. Actually I talk. Cause this Nacko guy is firing all kinds of questions at me. I know we don’t have much time, but there’s no need to interview me like I'm applying for some competitive job, y'know. But I like Nacko. His English is excellent (studies English Literature by the way). And he tells me his two friends are actually driving to Slovenia the next day. And if I want, I can catch a ride with them to Belgrade…Hmm…sounds like a pretty good deal. That means I don’t have to hitch. No hitching means less chance of running into more creeps. I know these guys already and they seem to be decent. So, he tells me that if I want to get that ride, to be at Continental Hotel at 4 pm the next day. They drop me off at a good HH spot and all get out of the car to wave me off. Ahh…they are really sweet. Good people.

At this time it’s late afternoon and I’m getting a little worried, since there isn’t that much traffic on that road and I still have a good few hours to go. But the second car stops. Small red car with two men. They are going to Skopje. Yippie. I get in. I meet Murat and his buddy, whose name I didn’t catch. They are army officers. Based in Ohrid and heading home for the weekend. Murat speaks fluent German (he lived there for a few years) Before that he was in Croatia for one year. And now he’s been working in Ohrid for the past 5 years. Before I get out of the car, he gives me his number. If I ever come back to Ohrid, he says, he can show me around all the nice places in and around the lake. I thank him.

WOW, I’m blown away by the generosity I experienced today. People were so incredibly considerate. Nice. Decent. Normal. That's so refreshing for a change. People really seemed to want to help me. And not want anything back in return. Today was a good day. And I even scored myself a ride back to Beograd the next day. Things don’t get much better than this. I'm loving life.

Makedonija Part 8


The next day is my last morning in Lagadin. I spent 4 wonderful days there, but as much as I want to stay in this lovely house with all these like minded people, I know it's time to move on.

So I hitch a ride with a couple back to Struga. Yes, Sruga again. Because I want to see A. and J. again (fellow EVS volunteers).

Speaking of the latter, I just happen to bump into him while I was walking the streets of Struga. I didn't tell him I was arriving that day. But I guess it's a small world. Speaking of a small world, J. tells me R. from Bitola is apparently in Struga as well. So that evening I tell J. to not tell R. I'm in town, so I could surprise him. But J. just couldn't keep it to himself and ruins the surprise. But it was still great to see R. and all the other volunteers together in Struga. We reminisce over Smokies and Rakija...
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