like i mentioned in my last post, it took me about 2.5 hours to find the interent place i was at. and now i had no clue as to how to get back! so i asked the guy working there for directions and they turned out to be crazy complicated, but then it turned out that his friends wre walking that way anyways, so i was told to jut follow them. these people were really nice and we talked about a bunch of random stuff. i was telling them about my travels, and they said they really wish that they could do the same… but unfortunately, if you live in serbia or croatia, it’s nearly impossible to get a visa to go anywhere. other than travel to a few neighboring countries, they are basically stuck there. how sucky is that?? i had never really given much thought as top how lucky i am to have an american passport. it opens up so many doors!
so, as usual, at some point, the conversation veered towards our election. i was preparing to agree w/ them when they started bashing bush… but to my complete surprise, they actually wanted bush to win!! in fact, they said that pretty much most of serbia supports bush. i guess they dont trust the democrats since clinton ordered serbia to be bombed years ago. shit! i had totally forgotten about that. that would explain why the policeman on the train was insulting america. duh. the guy went on to say that he was actually serving in the army when all this stuff went down. sheez. i asked him if most serbs didnt like americans, and mentioned my encounter w/ the passport control guy. he said that no, people realize that its the government, and that serbs have no problem w/ us americans in general… but honestly, it was hard to tell if he was just saying that to make me feel better. well, it ended up being really interesting talking to these people and getting their points of view. i’m glad that i happened to leave the net place just at the right time!!
i had some serbian money leftover, and i didnt want to end up stuck w/ it like w/ the croatian money, so i bought a bottle of wine at the station to get rid of the money. and chips. and soda. and candy. finally all of it was gone.
the train ride to bulgaria was one of the more confusing train rides i’ve ever taken. i asked the conductor which compartment i need to go into, and he said it was one of the two he pointed at so i went in. i kept going from room to room, but people would just say that the room was reserved or just wave me away. wtf? i didnt know if they really had reserved stuff, or if they were just lying to get the rooms for themselves. finally, i founf one room w/ 2 guys, and asked if i could sit. the guy sighed heavily and grumbled while pointing for me to sit. great. now i was in a room w/ people who really didnt want me there. a little while later, two more guys came into the room, and the angry guy started full on yelling at them. i think he really didnt want them there, but they insisted on staying and asking him something to the effect of “whats it to you?”. well later, when the conductor came by, i’m not sure how, but the angry guy got the other 3 guys kicked out! the conductor made them leave and they yelled up a storm when leaving. the conductor then tried to explain something to be in serbian, buit i had no clue what it was.
i was no so confused. why were the other guys kicked out? why did angry man not have me kicked out too? what did the conductor want from me? why did the police keep walking by?? hmmmm.
well, it turned out that angry guy wasnt that mean afterall, and eventually he showed me how to put my seat down to sleep etc. he was really nice! and i fell asleep… until an hour later people were pounding on the door. two new people wanted to sit in the room. they argued w/ angry guy for a while, and finally we all put our seats up when the angry guy made a “fine, suit yourself” kind of gesture. well, then the conductor came in and told them to leave. but then one of them paid more and got to stay. and then the other one came back, but the conductor came again and told him to scram. finally i figured it out. for some bizarre reason, even though this compartment said second class, all of the rooms were actually first class. the problem was… i only had a second class ticket. the train was totally packed, and i gog the feeling i’d end up sleeping on the floor.
at this point, the guy who got kicked out twice, came back (lets call him turkish man). turkish man starts gesturing wildly and yelling the names of different nationalities and banging on stuff after angry man tells him that i’m an american. he’s not doing this *at* me, but i think the point he was making was that if you’re bulgarian or croatian or have darker skin (like him) the authorities dont even give you a chnace and tell you to scram, but if you’re an american, french, or german.. no problems. *sigh*. i was getting more and more uncomfortable and confused, but luckily by this point angry man was being nice to me. he tried to tell me that i needed to pay more, and i dug through my money and i was sure i wouldnt have enough. when the conductor came back, he asked me for money and i asid i had none. so he gestures at my backpack and gestures for me to grab it and leave. crap! but when i started reaching for my stuff, he and angry man start totally laughing and motion for me to stay. huh?
so in the end i have no clue what happened. i guess i was let off the hook somehow?? and then, in the end, everyone in my room ended up being hella cool and friendly. without speaking their language, talking was actually 95% pantomime w/ just a few key words thrown in. it was actually really really hillarious trying to communicate.
so that was my whole experience of serbia. what started off in a very awkward way, actually ended up turning out hella good. despite the bullshit from the cop, i had lots of fun interacting w/ the people i met today. it just really shows that sometimes you just have to chill and not get worked up about a situation. after the cop incident, all i wanted to do was get the hell out of serbia and never come back… but now i definitely have a very different view of things. i gues thats what traveling really is all about. expanding your mindset.