Somewhere between Kosovo and Bosnia
“We missed our bus!” Christer reported back to us after returning from the ticket counter.
The truth is this bus may or may not have existed. Transportation is always an adventure in this part of the world. We were in Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, on our way to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Things had just started to fall into place before this moment. Our contacts e-mailed us back at our last pitstop, where we miraculously had wifi in the bus station, saying they would love to have us in Sarajevo. Up until that moment, we were going on faith to a city with no place to stay.
I snapped out of my analytical thought process as Dan came up to us and announced, “I found a taxi with enough seats! It will cost 180 euros, but if we take it, we don’t have to wait for the night bus to Sarajevo and we arrive 6 hours sooner.”
Our drivers most noticeable accessory was his giant orthodox-style cross hanging from the rear view mirror.
For the distance this price was actually a steal, although it was more than the bus would have costed. We got together as a group and decided the right choice was to take the taxi.
Our taxi driver was an Albanian about 50 years old. He was very friendly. Although we couldn’t speak a word of his language, he continued to have a one-sided conversation commenting on roads and landscapes. Christer, his english-only copilot, was a very polite listener.
We all got into the 20 year old station wagon. It was in decent shape…for a 20 year old station wagon taxi in eastern europe. Our drivers most noticeable accessory was his giant orthodox-style cross hanging from the rear view mirror. I don’t know how the mirror actually held the weight of it.
As we drove out of town, we made a pitstop at our taxi drivers home for him to remove his taxi sign-it was illegal to cross borders as a taxi. He kissed his wife and sat down in the drivers seat. Before he hit the gas, he kissed his fingers and rubbed his rear view mirror cross with care.
“Jesus?” he said with a smile to us and we all held thumbs up to signal we knew Jesus. He smiled. That was the end of our conversation. We couldn’t say any more because of the language barrier, but our group said a prayer for this leg of our trip and thanked God for the taxi.
I’m glad I couldn’t see down the side of the mountain, because I would have probably been more nervous.
He took off through the streets of Podgorica. We were finally on the last leg of our 18 hr journey. We immediately began to climb up a mountain. This part of Europe surprised me with how mountainous the region was. There was a consistent light rain and as we climbed, we went in and out of the low level clouds. They were so thick that we could see only 20 ft in front of us. I’m glad I couldn’t see down the side of the mountain, because I would have probably been more nervous.
This part of the world doesn’t have as many safety regulations and sometimes there would be guard rails and other times not. We kept climbing and passed snow covered roadsides. Because of the altitude, the temperature in the car was cold even with the 6 warm bodies and as a courtesy, the driver would blast the heat for 10 seconds and then turn it off. Ah yes, those were sweet moments we looked forward to!
As I looked out the fogged over window, vaguely making out trees whizzing past me, I started thinking how many times I had the freedom in America to blast my heat on a cold morning. The 80’s ballad lyrics popped into my head, “You don’t know what you’ve got, till its gone.” I snapped out of my thoughts as we entered into the darkness of a long mountain tunnel. NEXT PAGE →