I hate Kosovo.
Let’s be clear here: I do not hate Kosovars, I have no quibble with their independence, I honestly don’t know enough to make a judgement (although my eighth grade self somewhat remembers coverage interfering with TGIF).
But, this country almost killed me.
Or at the very least almost left me abandoned in a thunderstorm in a border town with Montenegro after over 10 hours in a combination of buses, taxis and some guy’s car.
One of the most amazing things about traveling overland, or at all, in somewhat more bizarre locales is the spontaneity of discovering things off the beaten path. It’s an amazingly thrilling task, using nothing but hand motions and horrible butchering of locations’ names, to get where you need to go.
Part of my partner P and I’s three-month trip through the former Yugoslavia was built on this adventure, and over a month in we thought we had it down.
Leaving rural Montenegro was hard enough, but once we got to a bus station, we were sure it was smooth sailing. When the bus just stopped and everyone got off at the border, however, we knew we were in a bit of trouble. Whether through our mistake or theirs, we didn’t understand that although we got the bus that says it goes to Kosovo, the one at the end of the day…doesn’t.
After a bit of not-so-quiet cursing, we figured out we could hail a cab, through the impending storm, up and over the mountain pass and into Kosovo. Done. Fine. The sun was setting.
Stepping out of a cab has never felt so risky. Running into the dark bus station parking lot, getting soaked, I put on my best: ‘Oh God I’m so lost’ slash ‘please play into the gender stereotype of the little lost blonde girl right now’ slash ‘it’s almost 11pm have mercy’ face.
Something motivated me toward two men in suits that were arguing with a driver. Their bus said Pristina. I had to get on this bus. At first, they told me no. Everyone told me no. I turned back to P, almost in tears, when one of the men hollered to us: “COME!”
Okay strange man, let’s go.
So I sat, hugging my huge backpack on my lap, praying that this bus would somehow end up in the right place, and avoiding the bizarre looks of fellow passengers (this was a tour bus on its way back from Germany, I later figured out).
My nerves were jangling and I couldn’t relax. I looked out the window.
There was a field on fire.
We’re talking ON. FIRE. And not a small fire. Acres and acres of flame. I looked around trying to gauge the appropriate response. Finding none, I turned to P to affirm my shock – only to find him happily snoozing away.
After three more hours, not having been asked for any form of payment and wishing the suited men a farewell at some unmarked highway spot, we made it to Pristina and literally jogged to the hostel.
And there, on Avenue Bill Clinton, I looked up, my jaw dropped, and I laughed:
This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt: Share a time when you narrowly avoided disaster. Photographers, artists, poets: show us ESCAPE.
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