May 31, 2007
I am in a new town now, Herceg Novi, about 20 minutes south of the border of Croatia. Earlier today I went to a traditional house building party. This is the day when the roof or second story is started, thereby allowing the people to live in it if they so wish (because they have a roof over their head). There was a table set for 15 with long planks of wood and the workers eating up a storm, lamb, cold cuts, salad, olives, bread, local pastry, beer, scotch and local moonshine. I shit you not. It was all fantastic but the moonshine (a form of Raki, a popular drink in Turkey and Greece) could make your throat ready to take control of future imbibing. It was intense. The last couple of days have been a bit lazy but still interesting. I stopped being a tourist in some respects and was living/hanging out as Montenegrins did. Yesterday we planted flowers at my host’s new building site.
Now my new host is working at his jewelry store and probably we will go for drinks after he gets off work. I leave Sunday morning and hopefully will be home for dinner. I’m starting to get the end of vacation feeling where you start to want to get back to what you know, your bed, your toilet, your fridge, your language (or in this case my adopted language).
I’m reading an amazing book that my friend Kristian gave me for my birthday. It’s about a blind guy in the 1820s who became the world’s greatest traveller. It’s improbable but well-written and I am really engrossed in it. I picked up some sea glass today and have gone through bouts of rain and sunshine so much I don’t know what’s what! hahaha
May 28, 2007
I had the exhibition last night, went from 7pm to 1am, i was interviewed by the national newspaper and there were people from 6 different countries, spoke different languages with some impromptu music in the charming little square where the pictures were glued with wax onto old stone walls. Today I drove to the middle of the country with my host, about a 2 hour drive. Our goal was to retrieve his drivers license which had been taken from him a month or two earlier because of a traffic violation. We were stopped by a policeman just before entering a 4km tunnel. He was driving without a license. Fuck, he said while the window was still up. I thought we were in trouble. It turns out to be the same policeman who took his license away a while back! Vlatko gets out of the car and is gone more than 5 minutes. I dont have my passport with me, its in the room back at his place.
He gets back in the car and says that the policeman forgave him and he can continue driving. Apparently the dude called the chief of police who knew he was going to the capital, Podgorica, and the policeman learned that Vlatko was in fact on his way to get his license so somehow all was forgiven.
The capital itself was unimpressive save the other couchsurfers that I met again (Boris, Yelena). We had pizza, escaped from the rain and had a coffee down by the river in an alternative setting. It was under a small concrete bridge that was mostly painted up with strange simple paintings. Some of you will be getting postcards from there.
All right, now I just had a turkish coffee at 12.15am on monday night with my Montenegrin host and two other couchsurfers from Belarus.
p.s. Maya, I spoke Norwegian to 3 adults from Aalesund, they actually complimented me on my Norwegian after about 10 minutes, just after I said samme faen for meg! hahahah
May 26, 2007
I dont feel like I have enough time to tell you everything that has happened but I will give it to you in short bullet points so you can try and get a feeling for the whole picture…
Thursday, my birthday, I was having a couple of beers in a nice square, beautiful weather and then at 9.30pm had to walk to the train station because my train was coming. It was late, and I met a lot of gothic Swiss people who were going to some hard rock festival in Leipzig. One guy gave me a beer. I made the connection to the next train barely, was on it for about 4 hours and then made the connection to the airport but I forgot my photos for the exhibition on the last train and had to run back into it to get them. That was close. I made it to the airport, we landed about 8.45am and then 45 minutes later Vlatko and Maki picked me up.
*I got yelled at by the lady working on the train because I asked her some information she was too lazy to find out for me.
*When I found Vlatko and Maki, we had an espresso and then went shopping at a big supermarket outside in Dubrovnik where they bought some hiking shoes, walking stick, some dog food and some tiki torches for the exhibition on Sunday.
*The coastline is improbably beautiful, seriously. Please do a google search of Bay of Kotor and you will get an idea of it.
*I went to the spot where the exhibition is going to take place, a small piazza with a small tree. We are going to decorate it and there are about 10 other couchsurfers who are coming to the event.
*Had a beer on the water with Vlatko and Maki while Maki was “working” at his jewelry store, which really meant sitting in the shade and getting up only when people walk in.
*We left Maki and then the two of us drove to Zelenika to visit his old uncle who lives in an even older hotel. It is dilapidated but right on the water and the uncle, who is an architect and lived in Hungary for many years, has drawn up plans to renovate it but they are looking for an investment. I spoke German with him and we had a small schnapps with him.
*Vlatko has 2 dogs, one of which is almost as big and heavy as I am. It is unnerving.
*We went to a stationery store and got some paper for the exhibition for free as they are a sponsor for the event.
*We then drove around most of the bay and it was just shocking as a first time experience. We stopped and looked at an old mill which has an expensive restaurant sent a bit back from the water but had an incredible setting.
*We had some lunch when we got back. It consisted of cold chicken, olives, tomatoes, cheese and bread.
*I went to a market to buy some water and the power went out while I was inside and had to wait until they had power back so they could charge me for the drink.
*Vlatko and I jammed (me with bongos) for about a half hour, all the while with an incredible view of the bay out the window, a small old church between us and the bay.
*We drove to his other property which is in the woods about 20 minutes away. They are going to build a house there. He watered the soon to be garden and it was super peaceful there.
*There were cows in the road on the switchback up over a hill to the property.
*Vlatko had a couple of stolen olive trees they took from some “bad Russian” who want to build a hotel where his property is.
*He called the chief of police to try and get some license back because it was taken from him a couple of months ago.
*We stopped in Kotor for a drink and met up with his girlfriend and her friend from Belgrade. The setting was a small square with two different kinds of churches and it was a perfect place to have a drink (or two).
*I slept like a rock from 11pm to about 9.30 with some small interruptions.
My second day here, just so beautiful. So far so good. I miss Assiyeah, wish she was here but she has the place at home to herself and is starting some work on her thesis.
Also, a quick shoutout to Maya for getting a job with Xerox in London! Good for you!
May 23, 2007
In what could actually be a brilliant political move, John Warner, republican senator from Virgina, had in his version of the Iraq Supplemental Funding Bill which was defeated 52-44, certain language that included the following:
SEC. 4. REDEPLOYMENT OF U.S. FORCES FROM IRAQ.
(a) The President of the United States, in respecting the sovereign rights of the nation of Iraq, shall direct the orderly redeployment of elements of U.S. forces from Iraq, if the components of the Iraqi government, acting in strict accordance with their respective powers given by the Iraqi Constitution, reach a consensus as recited in a resolution, directing a redeployment of U.S. forces.
Can you believe it? It basically would leave Bush without a way around not redeploying. We went to Iraq to give it freedom and democracy and they would be exercising democracy to its fullest, unlike us as of late. How could we continue to have troops there when the government that we hoped would be “Western” votes to ask us to leave?
It’s strange weather now, thunder and lightning but mostly sunny with a haze overhead and threatening clouds on both sides of the valley…