bosnia with adventures
Every EVS volunteer is supposed to take part in two trainings during the service – an on-arrival and a mid-term training. Currently I’m attending the first one is in Sarajevo, Bosna and Herzegovina.
In odrer to get to Bosnia we (me and other eight volunteers with whom I was travelling) had to take a night bus from Skopje. We weren’t exactly sure how long the ride is going to take but the estimated time was between 12 and 16 hours.
I kind of feared such a long ride as I’m not used to spend so many hours in one mean of transport. After my last trip to England in a coach few years ago, I promised myself I’d never get on a bus that has to ride more than a couple of hours. Unfortunately, this time there was no other option. I even thought about spliting the trip and staying over in Belgrade for the weekend but
I couldn’t. I thus clenched my teeth and hoped I’d survive on the Balkan roads.
Firstly, I headed to Skopje from Kavadarci with one other volunteer, a French girl called Adeline. In the capital, which is located in the heart of the Balkans, we met with Lubica and Matej (the Slovak volunteers I knew before and with whom
I planned my trip). It turned out that Matej’s flatmate, Ieva (Latvian EVS), is coming along, too. She let us know that a few other girls will await us at the bus station… and this way all volunteers from Macedonia went together.
The trip started at 8pm. After 40 minutes we reached a Macedonian-Serbian border. All of us got pretty excited about getting a stamp because most of our passports were just blank pages. The border control made me think of my travels as a child and a youngster – stopovers in the middle of the night and waiting for customs officers to throw a glance at you and to take your passport… After another 40 minutes we got through. I was very disappointed we were just going to pass the country without actually seeing the Serbian soil (luckily, the mid-term training will take place in Belgrade!). The trip proceeded well but it was terribly hot on the bus and I felt like in a sauna in my polo-necked sweater. At some point one of the drivers decided to chase away the passangers from their seats in the last row. Nobody had an idea why but there was no discussion and so poor Ieva, among others, had to leave, too. As we later found out, the drivers decided to make
there their bed!
There happened also a couple of other peculiar things including one of the drivers turning off eagerly all headlights (not minding that some of the people were reading) and playing some movie with subtitles… but without the sound. And yet the most interestings moments were, however, just about to come!
Just before 4 in the morning we reached another border. I thought we already made it to Bosna and that maybe within next three hours we’d reach Sarajevo. Nothing further from the truth! Somehow we ended up on a Serbian-Croatian border checkpoint in Bajakovo! On a Serbian side Matej was called out and he had to provide the customs officers with his ID because his passport photo was obviously way too old. Also one other volunteer had to show some additional documentation. The Croatian side looked very modern and neat. We all had to step out of the bus and personally present our passports. And yet again there were some tiny problems with Matej’s passport. The customs officer first scanned it (like all the others) and later went to check something on the other computer. We guess it was his beard that puzzeled all the officers. Either way, we had lots of laughs out of that! Unfortunately, we spent quite a long time on this border and one of the passengers wasn’t authorized to cross it (my guess – lack of appropriate documents) and so he had to leave the coach and take out his luggage.
The last and long awaited border
(a Croatian-Bosnian checkpoint) appeared about 30 minutes later and we crossed it withing few minutes. A new day welcomed us in cold and frosty Bosna and Herzegovina. The low temperature turned out to be consistent with the weather forecast, it was probably few degrees below zero.
I was pretty much awaken on the way to Sarajevo and paid much attention to the view behind the window. We drove along mountains and hills, passed old, empty houses (most likely remains of the recent war) and some mosques. A lot of construction workers were busy on the other side of the road. There emerged an image of
a poor, sad, grey yet beautiful country…