Journal - Napló
|Posted on March 20, 2011 at 8:45 PM|
We spent nearly the entire day in front of computers, in a bar offering internet connection, too. We were working on a videoblog –we didn’t fully succeed. Frustrated and with low spirits, we left the place and went back to Marko’s. In the evening, on the occasion of another couchsurfer meeting, we met Michal, the Polish photographer-journalist who set out three months ago on his documenting journey. His final destination is the Himalayas where he would get in touch with his photographer colleague to explore China’s carefully kept ’watertank’, the mysterious Tibet. You can have a look at his photos taken by 50 fix lenses, here: www.babelimages.com.
Our host, Marko lives in a small, one-and-half-room apartment. Two pianos, walls decorated with painted footprints, empty fridge, cigarette smoke. Both the dry and the drying plates are in the dryer. Being a Serbian citizen, in order to go to practically any country, he needs visa. However, if he can’t go to see the world, he invites the world to his place. An open-minded, peacelover piano teacher, with an open door towards the travellers.
Our GPS Tracker died. Belgrad won’t let us go. None of the maintenance shops but the corner electrician could fix it. Since then, it has been workin gagain.
In the evening, through a couchsurfer friend of ours, we got to know Dragan and Vlada. Our initial purpose was an outdoor jazz concert but we didn’t get in, so we went to one of their favourite places, a boat, at the other bank of the Sava.
Dragan leads a double life. During the day, he lives for his work; at night, for his hobby and he makes money with both of them. There are some rich folks who like poker but they either cant’t or, due to some cause, don’t want to play. This is where Dragan’s time comes. He spends his day hours online, playing poker with the money of others. If he wins, half of the money is his. If he loses, nothing happens. How could one apply for a job like this remained a secret to us, but he let us know that he’s got serious poker experience. At night, he stands behind the DJ set and inspires the guests of the bar to dance.
His friend, Vlada works on ocean cruisers as a waitor. He’s away a lot, so whenever he puts his feet on ground, he takes full advantage of it and has much fun.
… Once, with some friends, he set out to Montenegro, by train, to go have fun. At a station, a couple of his friends jumped off to get some drinks. The train was leaving but none of them had come back. So his friends did some thinking and pulled the emergency brake. The train stopped at once, of course, and the conducter came immediately, with furious anger. They already paid the 20-Euro fee, but the others weren’t back. The train left. However, at the next stop, about 100 kilometres from there, the fugitives were waiting for them. As it turned out, after the train had left, they convinced a stranger to give them a ride as far as the next train stop. They didn’t tell him how far that was, but after the girl member of the band used a rather effective way of persuasion (kissing the driver all over), the distance was no longer a problem...
We didn’t stay for long on the boat as it was way too expensive for us and also, our host, Marko was waiting for us. We crossed the town at night, by walking.
After a brief internetcafé detour, we took the bus towards the edge of the town, and finally we could start swinging southwards. When it got dark, only a 30-kilometer ride was behind us, so we decided not to pitch our tents but keep on hitch-hiking, by turns. After midnight, Kenneth lay down among the backpacks to get some sleep. In like one and half hour, I already had to wake him up – a car stopped.
B. was heading to his home town, a little southern town in the mountains, about 170kilometers from there. We got there in less then 90 minutes. Not on motorway but on mountain paths. Getting there he invited both of us in his disco – we immediately took shots of rakia.
If conscious ’breeding’ existed in the world of car racing, I bet the Serbian would be the dominant pedigree there. I’m completely sure about this – he had complete control over his car. Fear of death dominated us at the sametime.
He didn’t drive like this out of bragging. This is how he drives. He lived for 16 years inItaly, 6 in Germany, then he moved back and opened a car store. Now he was driving an old Audi because he was heading for Greece and that’s the car that police officers usually let go. Otherwise, with his Porsche, he needs 65 minutes to visit his parents from Belgrad. He drives at night, without a number plate.
Thanking him for the ride and the drinks, we –having no better option- took a taxi in order to get ourselves out of the town. Pitching tents and going to bed.
It was the heat again that woke us up. After some breakfast we packed our tents and made our way to the nearby forest. Hammocks and falling asleep again in the shade. In the afternoon, after a short ride, standing in Zlatibor, we noticed various groups of people heading towards a certain direction. We followed them and soon we found ourselves in the middle of a Serbian music festival.
On the meadow bordering the forest, thousands of people were gathered around the stage from where the well-known atmosphere of G. Bregovic’s music was flowing towards us in an overwhelming way. At the beginning, with our cameras we were running this way and that but then we put them down and got lost in the music.
Around midnight, when theaudience started to head back to their cars, we pitched our tents inthe nearby forest. Followed by lights of carlamps and sounds of carhonks we fell asleep.
Watching the training of the local football team, we had breakfast, then a university teacher and his Niva took us to the lake near Nova City. We walked up to the town along the lake. At a rest spot next to the road we collected the waste, and, at the end of the lake we had lunch while staring at the fishermen. The evening overtook us in Prijepolje.
Before our journey began,we had a plan that both of us start out with a Norwegian cheese-slicer and in every country we should make a trade. At last, we could make the transfer here. ’Looking for’ interpreters in restaurants and shops, Kenneth got a paste-board and I got an ash-tray with the help of which we’d be about to ’conquer’ the Montenegran market.
After like 90 minutes of unsuccesful hitch-hiking in the blazing sun, A. adressed us from behind the storage area we’re standing in front of. He invited us for coffee. Though we couldn’t find a language we were all fluent in, we understood each other pretty well. A. might be in his last 30s. During the day, he usually sits among the bricks, waiting for customers who –due to the crisis- generally don’t show up. When done with the work, he trains his pitbulls – for fight. Swimming, running, walking.
These dog fights usually take place once in two months. There are wounds, but the fight never lasts until death. Once the judge decides that one dog has prevailed over the other, he ends the fight. People open the dogs’ jaws with sticks and seperate the hounds. Pitbulls (and some other breeds) don’t tend to inflict damage at as many spots as they can in order to weaken their victim, but they focus on one spot (most often the neck), biting on it and not letting it go, thus disabling the other one more and more. One of his four pitbulls, the white Belly has already won twice. The muscles on his face and on the top of his head can be easily touched. The collar equipped with extra weighs aroundit, helps to train the muscles of the neck.
When we walked to them,they all said hi to us, tail-wagging. They are friendly and playful hounds.
Later on, A.’s carpolisher friend joined our little coffee-company. In his sparetime –which he has a lot these days- he deals with sports cars, too. He showed at a spot at the road where not so long ago we’re waiting for a ride. Smiling, he wrote it down on a piece of paper that his personal best is 250 kilometre/hour.
After two hours of unsuccessful hitch-hiking, they shouted ’coffee’ at us, and we thankfully joined them in the shade. Early in the evening, we accompanied A. to the river so that we could watch Belly during training. Tennis ball flying, Belly patiently waiting, watching where it would fall in the water and now he’s right there with one leap. Swimming back to the bank, with the ball in his mouth he swallows some water. A., carefully pushing above the stomach, ’brings the water back’. The various tricks don’t work, they have to get the ball out of his mouth with a stick. Once he bites on something…
We said goodbye to A.,his family and friends, and later that day, with a short ride, were ached a mountain village right at the Montenegran border.
Whether it’s due to the natural conditions, or to the fact that almost exclusively Serbians live here, or maybe both, I don’t know but it’s a whole new world when you enter the mountains. You automatically bow to an ancient power flowing from the nature and the people living here. It’sfrightening, too, because the stranger has the impression that there’s no mercy here, the weak don’t survive; still, it’s encouraging and impressive. It lifts you up and –in the best sense possible- pushes you a little.
If only they hadn’t wanted to use war in order to make the impression that the only way of getting rid of the accumulated energy is bloodshed! Or they hadn’t tried to restrict (visa) it (who did that?)! Perhaps if they let loose this fierce but humane power, other nations could benefit from it.
translated by Ágoston Galambos