Saturday, September 5, 2009
Well, we have a great deal to catch up on. I believe the last entry had us in Belgrade, the only shinning light of Serbia. I actually hear the mountains to the south are lovely though we did not see them. Our final night in the town turned out not to be our final night. We were prepping for a night of dancing and laughing with the local tour guides when it started to storm uncontrollably. We gave a ring to our friends and as it turns out, no one goes out in the rain in Serbia. No one except Brett and Steve. To a make long story short we headed to the bar for shots of whiskey, Jim Beam specifically, then discovered beer by the 2 litter (thats 64ozs) for about 2 dollars at the market. Then while drinking in the alley we met 2 new friends, one fisher/trapper hooligan ex-prisoner and his side kick the bookiet, neo-Nazi, Free-Mason intent on crushing all diversity, including Americans. Needless the say we spent most of the evening with them drinking shots of brandy, beers, smoking cigarettes, acting Canadian, and letting them pay the tab. Thanks guys. I managed to lose my rain jacket and mind while Brett tried to explain exactly what religion he was to these fellows. It took about 12 hours for me to rally guts to leave town, leave Serbia, in search of more hospitable terrain.
We decided to take the shuttle to Bosnia. This was a fine choice as the maximum dangerousness of the shuttle ride itself, on the awfully narrow crumbling mountain roads to Sarajevo, only reinforced our decision to not ride the bikes. We also saved 3 days of riding and were able to put the Serbian plight behind us quickly and efficiently.
Sarajevo is amazing. We ended up finding a yard, rather a garden, to pitch our tent. It was at the house of a local named Salih we found on CouchSurfing. He proved to be very helpful and insightful drawing us very small confusing maps to the best places. These included kabab stands, sheesha dens, and old fortresses overlooking the city. He was also able, along with some of his friends, to put words to the war that we all saw on television 15 years ago. 1000 mortar shells would rain into Sarajevo on a daily basis while rape and other torture were used to break the will and spirit of the people. It is quite compelling hearing the brutally honest accounts of his in half broken English. His neighbor told us, Nobody win in war. All I want to do is work and live, that is it. On a more positive note though it seems the war created a city that prides itself on the fact that everybody gets along. There is felt acceptance between religions and genders and the people are proud of this.
Unfortunately we had to move on from Sarajevo after only a few nights. But it is the nature of this trip to move and see and keep moving. So onto Mostar, Bosnia. This was a challanging day of riding and landed us in the middle of nowhere. We rode for 70 miles or so and after 5000 feet or climbing, a great deal on dirt roads, we camped in an magically quiet high plateau of Bosnian sheep country. We dined on a can a tuna Brett carried from Poland (unable to open due to lack of can opener), slightly under-smoked salami, Sarajevo local cheese, and a few bits of chocolate. Not quite enough after our ride but we felt fortunate because we undershot our planned destination, or put another way, we were ass lost. So it goes. These things often work in our favor.
The next day we arrived in Mostar but could only stay for the afternoon. We had a nice swim under the famed bridge, a quick tour around the shelled and bullet ridden infrastructure left from the war (much like Sarajevo), and ate a pizza-like sandwich filled with spicy sausage and boiled egg before we departed for our camp which for that night was abandoned stretch of highway with views of an ancient castle and the valley below. What a place to end our time in Bosnia! And then onto Croatia. It would take a miserable day of underestimating distances, elevation gain, Mediterranean temps, food and water necessities to land us in Croatia.
That was yesterday and we are still recovering. The ride was brutal and ended in night on the busiest highway we have ridden yet. We are posted up at this apartment/hostel in Debrovnik and are waiting to see what kind of trouble we can find tonight. And then onto the islands and ferries of the Adriatic. Well, so much more to say but what can you do. Hope everyone is well and finding creative ways to enrich the days. We will let you know at the next turn.