In the past few days I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the blog. Reason one being because I’m the only driver, and two that both WiFi and time are rare luxuries at the moment. And because of this I have fallen a day behind in my posting. So, this post will cover the past two days and bring the stories up to date.
After only a couple hour drive just two days ago, we pulled our car off the road after spotting a small sign that read “Sobe”. I’m not sure what language it is, but it means apartment. In these countries there are hotels and hostels, but in order to make some extra income property owners will rent out rooms in their homes to travelers. And after striking a deal for €45, we had a place to sleep in Kotor, Montenegro.
Swimming in the middle of Kotor’s bay reminded me of little more than how small I am. Thousand meter cliffs racing down towards the water. And within those walls you feel safe. As safe as I imagine the first sailors felt when they discovered it. The reason being that Kotor is a bit of a geographical wonder – a monstrous bay that’s only a kilometer inland from the sea but safeguarded by the mountains (the map below is the best explanation).
We were staying only a five-minute drive from the city proper – along a rode only wide enough for a small car and motorcycle to pass each other comfortably. It hugged the bay as tightly as it could, having only less than a foot of space between the road and water. It was exciting to drive. And know that the slightest hiccup of a movement would land both my vehicle and me off the side.
In the town we ate, drank, and danced until we were once again sober. There was festival taking place. And local artists had decorated small boats for a parade across the water. A parade where there were actually floats. But in the town it was chaos. Densely packed within the fort walls and outdoor DJ’s around every corner. They had positioned their speakers so that each street thumped with a loud base, but none of the sounds interfered with one another. So every street you walked down had a different vibe, and there was nowhere to rest in between.
It was another late night…and relatively early morning. Up again we were the next day for a quick breakfast before driving off into Bosnia. A seven-hour journey on what we assumed would be highway quality roads…we assumed wrong. As soon as we crossed the border into Bosnia we had found the highway. But it was the road from hell cutting through the landscapes of heaven.
Winding roads patched with crumbling pavement. Cut through the cliff sides that dropped off into turquoise reservoirs. There is something about holding that stick shift that makes a person feel like an amateur racecar driver. And that was a feeling I pursued. Radically shifting back and forth between gears I sped, over taking the cautious cars that were nothing but roadblocks in my mind. The girls with me shrieked as I skidded around the hairpin turns, feeling ever so close to the fatal edges.
Half way through the drive they couldn’t take it anymore. And this doesn’t mean that I stopped. Instead they pacified themselves with half a bottle of vodka we had kept in the trunk. Soon, the shrieks became laughter, and the same rush of adrenaline that had me so entranced captured them.
Seven and a half hours later we had arrived in Sarajevo, Bosnia – a city whose most troubling history occurred when we were still in diapers. Our host for the night was our age, so we invited him out for the night with us. And thankful for him we were. He showed us the town, and over drinks explained the history, not that he had studied but lived.
At the age of four he lived with his family in a basement as Serbian snipers picked of Muslim’s one by one from the surrounding hills. The currency he grew up with wasn’t minted money, it was cigarettes. And to get food for his family he’d have to crawl through a tunnel that was dug beneath the airport. I said to him that it sounds like prison, to which he responded, “it was worse – in prison they feed you.”
I’m writing this post now from a hookah lounge in the center of the old town. An ottoman influenced area littered with shops, cafes, and bars. The hookah costs about $4.00, which is quite a discount from the $25.00 average it costs in the states. And once again, I’m in another bizarrely affordable city. One in which three friends can rent an apartment only 20 minutes from the city center for €75 a month (walking distance). Food, drink, and fun is equally affordable – I’ll never be able to buy a $20 cocktail again.
(I will update some pictures for Sarajevo once they are edited)