Saturday, 4 September 2010

What are the odds?

So, I was on my way back from Peja, Kosovo and I get stopped at the border. Turned out I was reaching my max of 90 day stay in Serbia. Next day, out of all the places I could go to (Timisoara and Osijek were some of the options) I get sent to Vukovar, Croatia because, well, why not?

In the bus to Osijek, I am starting to get nervous once we approach the border... Just give me a stamp already! But Serbia doesn't stamp me... Luckily Croatia does. But the stamp is so vague - nobody else could read it except for the guard who stamped it ("You see, you just have to flip your pasoŇ° upside down and there you go"). I asked some fellow passenger if he could read the date and he looked puzzled. That's not a good sign. But the guard assures me that on the way back, his colleague will stamp it again, so I shouldn't have any problems... I get back on the bus, not feeling too sure, but well, the guard didn't want to stamp it a second time, even though I practically begged him, so what else could I do?

Back in the bus I start a conversation with this fellow passenger who helped me translate (because yeah, my Serbian still sucks). Conversation was good. So good so, that when we reach Vukovar I had to literally jump out of the bus, because we were so into it. As the bus drives away and I look up, I see it's gonna start to rain any second. I reach for my umbrella. Too bad I left it on the bus.

I check the return times of the bus and there's one at 14.00 and another one at 18.00. I decide to take the latter one, since well, I'm already here, why not explore this exciting town. I walk along the river and I hike up the hill to the church. Then I get a text message from this couchsurfer I contacted the night before. I didn't expect to hear back from this person, since well, my request was very last minute, but I gave it a try anyways and I only had enough time to contact this one couchsurfer.

So, the couchsurfer meets me at this church and the moment he walks up I'm thinking, this dude looks familiar... But I figured it was just because I recognize his face from the profile picture. We start walking and talking... And then we realize we were in the same city, in the same hotel, attending a similar training the week before! He remembered seeing me and I get an "Aha!" moment - this is why he looked so familiar. But we didn't talk then, no, first I had to get stopped at the Kosovo-Serbia border, then I had to travel to this random place on a whim, contact the first couchsurfer that showed up on the search - then we talked. And it turns out to be somebody I should have met a week ago! If that wasn't enough, we run into some of his friends on the streets (because well, Vukovar ain't that big, in case you didn't know) and turns out his friend and I have some common friends in Croatia, Serbia and Belgium! Don't tell me that this ain't a small world after all! I don't normally believe in coincidences, but this was one hell of a coincidence.

So, just before six this couchsurfer walks me back to the bus and we have some small talk in front of the bus, I look back at the bus and recognize the driver - same dude from this morning and he obviously remembers me as well as he makes this frantic 'stamping' hand movements. Yeah, I am that silly girl who begged for the guard to stamp me again.

I say my goodbyes to the couchsurfer and get back on the bus thinking, hmm...the driver is the same, so maybe the bus is the same. I look for my umbrella, but didn't find it. Then the driver walks up to me... with my umbrella :)

As soon as I sit down two dudes start talking to me, turns out they just came back from Osijek from some tennis tournament. One is a tennis player (he says he is the next Djokovic) and the other one is his personal trainer... We have some chit chat - they try to convince me they are twin brothers (one is tall, blond and blue eyes, and the other, well, let's just say the exact opposite ;)) and insist on taking me out for a drink. I guess you can say these are players alright ;)

Back in Belgrade, I sneek out of the bus before the players wake up from their beauty sleep and I think to myself: what a random day this turned out to be.

PS. Oh on the way back at the Croatian border - same guard from the morning.
PPS. And yeah, the stamp was really vague again.
PPPS. But this time he stamped me twice.
PPPPS. And I didn't even have to beg for it ;)

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