April 11, 2010

Prishtina to Brno

Leaving Prishtina in the morning, we bid farewell to another set of new friends. To get to Belgrade and then on North towards the Czech Republic, we’ve got a complicated journey ahead of us: because Serbia doesn’t recognise the existence of Kosovo as a separate country, it’s not possible to cross into Serbia from Kosovo without already having a Serbian stamp in your passport. This means echoes of Egypt; we have to take one taxi back down South to the border with Macedonia, cross the border on foot and find another taxi to take us to Skopje for the very-long-cut bus to Belgrade. The second taxi drops us at the bus station with five minutes to spare- we hurry to the ticket office and slap down the money.

“Bus full”

We are told.

“Next one at 5”

Hearts sink. Five is just not possible. Our train from Belgrade to Brno is at 9.30, and the journey there takes 7 hours. If we miss the Brno train, I miss my Brno gig, my final slice of purpose for the last stage of the journey. We plead, and the woman agrees to sell us a 5 o’ clock ticket with a note on the back to the 1 o’ clock driver

“Let these idiots on”

or something similar. We rush through, waving the noted tickets, and find the driver. He doesn’t know the English word for No, but he’s fluent in the gestures. Fuck Off, his arms and face tell us loud and clear.

Bruised puppy, I stand by the door of the bus while he loads the other passengers on.

Fuck Off, says his back.

My spirit slumps, and my face follows. It must be a mask of despair. He turns, closes his eyes, inhales a lungful of pity and says

OK Then

with a swipe of his hand. We blossom into action, swing our bags into the hold and board the bus triumphant. We spend most of the journey cramped into the stairwell, being stared at by an old lady with the most impressive moustache I’ve seen for a while, but we do arrive in Belgrade in time for our train, clutching cold slices of pizza we picked up on the way. I stick my head out of the train window as it pulls away. If I had dog ears, they’d be streaming out behind me.

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