Seeing as this trip was two weeks ago, I’m so tempted to just let it go with a few pictures. However, so many things stood out to me and there was so much I wanted to share, I’ll go ahead and put at least some of it down. I want to start by saying that I’m not ‘taking sides’ politically in anything I say and want to steer clear of politics altogether in this post. I’m aware of the animosity still felt on both sides of the border but we had a great time in Serbia and as such wish to convey only that point.
The reason for our trip? There was an Agro fair (largest in the area, we were told) and on the weekend was the ‘baby Exit’ which is basically the Exit festival but for young people and kids without the rock music, heh. We were invited to help as our host was alone there during that time, her home being busy with other work. So we loaded our car (thanks to Sam who let us use the roof rack—boy, do we need a bigger car!) and headed east.
Thankfully, most of the trip was on highway, making for faster and smoother travel. Soon the landscape changed to fields and fields of wheat and eventually tobacco. Now I understood why that area is called the bread basket of Croatia. As beautiful as it was, it soon became monotonous for Jo who quoted friends of ours who had told us this is the most boring highway in Croatia, ha! Getting off the highway just before Vukovar the landscape changed once again to vineyards. It was beautiful! The sun was starting to get low in the sky and I felt like I had just walked into a scene from A Walk in the Clouds.
Before we knew it, we were in Vukovar, a stark reminder of what this country went through ten years ago. All along the road were signs warning of mines. Patches in the street that were potholes of a different sort. Many buildings still wore scars from mortar shells. Others were deserted altogether with burnt out roofs and overgrown gardens. Parts of the outskirts of town looked the same as when we had visited eight years ago! Other than that, development seemed to be coming slowly and I have to add at this point that we did not go through the center of town, so I can’t give a complete picture.
The villages on the way to Serbia reminded me of Hungary: long villages in the sense that most of the houses were right on the main street with their ‘back yard’ being their field or plot of land. Soon the Danube was in view and we traveled for some time winding next to it.
The border crossing was uneventful in itself except that we found out the hard way that our green card expired and so needed to pay for insurance in Serbia. After discussion, we decided against taking the guard’s offer to look the other way if we obliged with some ‘convincing’ as we had heard that there are a great many checks in the city. Thankfully, the home had a car with local plates so we didn’t actually have to drive our German car around too much (old as it may be, we were told it’s worth is about 4-6x what we’d get for it here).
The fair went well and was indeed very large, making for a great excursion for the kids as well. One thing I have to interject at this point is that I noticed how very beautiful Serb women are. And they dress up nicely for events like this as well! The kids had fun looking at the animals and other stands there. One stand in particular was Jordan’s favorite because not only was it tractors and earth movers, but it was all yellow! Especially at an international fair like this, giving out tracts was usually alright and the kids could get away with giving them out any time.
Several of the people the home is ministering to came by as well, giving us a good chance to brush up on our Bible study skills. One girl was starting the bridges, so since I was the only one who’d ever given that class, I got to give it again. It’s great having a ‘church’ that is doing so well! This particular girl was met last year at Exit and was high and dependant on drugs at the time. She’s had a complete turn around, knows her Bible in and out and is seriously looking for ways to better serve the Lord.
Baby Exit was postponed because of the rain and because of the rain we didn’t get to go to the center of town. Another good part about the rain was that my allergies got under control after the first day. I think all the construction (major construction boom!) materials were bothering me at first, but the Lord was good and it didn’t get bad. Thankfully, it rained at all of the right times, so the kids were still able to come to the fair two of the days we were there.
We had planned to leave a day later than we did, but because of the postponing we had an opportunity to do something we otherwise wouldn’t have: gone shopping at the Sunday open market. This place was something like we’ve never seen in a very long time. For the kids, it was an absolute first, and although it seemed overly crowded and loud, they got used to it quickly, to where they enjoyed themselves in the end. It was an outdoor bazaar type market, with everything for sale, from DVDs and video games to strawberries or mouth-watering barbequed sandwiches to clothes or shoes to car parts in every shape, size and model, new or ‘off the side of the road’. Jo didn’t take pictures as he didn’t ‘want to buy it off of one of the vendors 10 minutes later’, ha! We got what we needed though and went back on our way home the next day.
So we’re back now, the message about Exit came and I’m hoping I get to go this year around as I’m no longer nursing (hee hee) and would like to experience something like that just once.
This stuff smelled so good!
This whole set up was also at the fair…
Jordan’s favorite stand!
These girls were drawing in coffee grain, some of the stuff they made was very good.