expat blogger

living in Serbia

Friday, June 25, 2010

Random Serbia

Dear Family and Friends,
Here are the continuing stories of my life here in Serbia.
The Dentist
A few weeks ago, Milan went to the Dentist and I went with him thinking maybe I would also have some teeth filled. The following is a description of the office and so forth.

When you walk in there is just the reception desk and the chair. Then not far behind is the reclining chair where the terrorism is performed or rather the chair for working on teeth is waiting for its next victim. Anyone sitting and waiting can watch the person having their teeth worked on and I find that a bit unnerving for both parties. I hated watching Milan's teeth be drilled. Pieces of tooth flying out of his mouth. YUK and scary listening to the drill......Shivers!

There was a lady sitting across from me kinda smiling a knowing smile at the unrestrained faces I was making at the sounds coming from the other side of the room. She even said something to me and I just smiled. (I am to the point I hate explaining I am American and I only speak a little Serbian and English.)

Like most dentists he wore a white coat and pants. but no plastic gloves. There was no assistant this day but later found out his wife is usually there and is trained to help him. The place was relatively clean though worn from years of use and such a bad economy. When Milan was about to have his teeth worked on the dentist asked him if he wanted anesthesia. He said no. Yes he is crazy!! The dentist filled two teeth that day and he had to go in the following day for two more. This first day he had no pain. But there were no X-rays done so there is no way to see how bad the cavities where, so on the second day Milan lost the draw. Again with no anesthesia the dentist was filling a cavity that was worse than it appeared and Milan had some pain. He came home miserable. Bot to have two fillings done is only cost $15 dollars, without Novocain. A total of $30 dollars for all 4 teeth. After first going I thought I didn't want to go get my teeth done but, after giving it some thought. I am weighing the cost and I think I will go because I have at least 5 cavities and it will cost a great deal more to have it done at home. I can handle it. Just grin and bare it, BUT WITH Anesthesia.

Luks cashier girl
The grocery store I go to here most often is called Luks. By now most of the people who work there know my face and know sometimes I need help and I don't speak Serbian better than a 1 yr old. They are all quite helpful and I am indebted to them. Although sometimes I do wonder what they think of me. I know they must sometimes think I am strange or annoying.
I did find out what one person thinks of me and I wanted to share.

One day a few weeks ago, I was shopping and saw a girl I have had coffee with and visited her home. (Her parents about flipped finding out I was was and American and were soooo sweet.) I said hello to her and we agreed to go for coffee and meet another friend.

She followed me to the checkout and when I finished she lingered to talk to the cashier. While we were having coffee with our friend I was told that she and the cashier were talking about me. The cashier girl had told her that before she saw me coming in to buy groceries she didn't believe in love. But after seeing an American coming to Serbia for her husband she now believes in love, Because I would leave my home, the land of plenty for this developing country. I thought it was very sweet.

The accident
On Tuesday, March 10, Milan and I woke up thinking today we would rest. On Monday we had pruned cherry trees in Vina with mom and dad and this morning it was wet and maybe a little rainy. It was also very cold. the combo makes for very mushy ground and hard work in the orchard. I went out to get coffee and Milan called me while I was at the grocery store. Deda Mumshilo had come and asked for a ride to Nis, a city about 45 minutes away.

About a quarter of an hour later we were on our way, Milan was driving, I was in the passenger seat and Deda in the back. We drove up the mountain on a winding, twisting road and saw that snow had fallen instead of rain at the top of the mountain. We past through the town of Svrlig (no I am not missing any nouns) and were 3 quarters of the way there when we came round a turn and found a car had not made the turn well and was perched over a deep trench, front wheels on the road and rear wheels on the hill on the other side of the trench. Just as we had stopped to avoid hitting the cars in front of us we were rear-ended. Thank God no one was injured in either of the accidents.

Still in the same spot, Milan and Deda got out to talk to the other drivers, I was fearful that someone else would come around the corner too quickly and run into our car again or worse the dumb people standing behind the car, completely blocking road. Seriously, it was a major hazard! But no one thought of that, even thought there had already been 2 accidents here within minutes. Finally I asked Milan if I could move the car and he said no! Later I found out that by law cars are not to be moved even if they are a hazard. How unsafe is that!?!

The most amazing part is, I knew the guy driving the car that hit us. He is the owner of the cafe I sit in often while I am writing in my journal. I didn't say hello. I thought it was a rather bad time and later found out he was trying to say it wasn't his fault, I was glad I kept my mouth shut. The cops told him it was his fault and he has to pay, but they didn't do any paper work, it would take over a month for the courts to straighten everything our and we only have til the 31 of March. (YIPPEE!)

The rest of the day was uneventful mostly. I did get to see the buildings that make up the hospital in Nis... The third largest city in Serbia. Most of them look rather run down and dirty. I went to a bathroom in the eye care building, and bathrooms here are actually called a Water Closet (or WC). It was dirty and smelly and there was no toilet paper. Note to self, wait til you get home from hospital to use toilet!

There were also no signs anywhere to let you know what building was for what. God forbid you have an emergency and need to get somewhere fast! Milan and Deda had to ask at least 7 different people which building we needed to go to, and even once in the building we had to ask a couple more times. There are no signs or reception areas. It is a far cry from what I am accustomed to.

Driving in Serbia...
There are many differences here. Laws or attention to laws seem to be a bit lax here. And if there are cops waiting for speeders breaking the limit, EVERYONE! flashes their lights to warn you there is a cop ahead. I think it is because there is still the sense that the government is so corrupt and no one wants to give anything to the ones who are already stealing from them. There are so many "hangover" elements from the times of Communism here. This is one of them.

Woman's day
March 8th was one of the four days a year that celebrate woman. It is also a remaining holiday from communist times. I could honestly understand one day a year to celebrate woman, but 4 seems a bit much, just another reason to give presents. There are markets set up along the river a few days before woman's day so that you can be sure not to forget to buy something. Milan got me a red carnation and laid it on my pillow.

Papa doesn't celebrate this day because it is a Communist holiday. Someone told me it was developed during the time in America when women were fighting for equal rights. The communist claimed that women had equal rights here, but years later I would disagree strongly. I have seen much to make me think the opposite. I will leave it at that.

Barbara, 5 years old
A little cousin I met a the wedding last month has been on my mind lately. She was so excited to say Hello to me and even counted to ten in English. (I may have mentioned this in another letter, but bare with me.) I asked about her last week when her uncle was over fixing our computer. He said she was good, and that she was so excited to meet me because she didn't think people actually spoke English. She thought it was just on TV. LOL

The Biblioteka or Library
I met a guy at the library the other day who could speak English quite well and I talked to him for a little bit. Then yesterday, while I was out shopping for a baby swing for my cousin Danica I saw him again.

His name is Nemed, I think... He offered to help me find a baby swing, because I cannot communicate so well and we were on our way a short distance to the next baby shop. We found no mechanicle baby swings. (I really think I will have to order one from out of the country.) But he told me his brass band was practicing and asked it I would like to come see it. Bands with lots of brass instrumets here are huge and are used for lots of festive occasions. They are also a cultural tradition, I was interested.

I went to the practice for just a few minutes because Mama was making dinner and I had to go help her, but I got to see and hear this great band. The music was very good and I wish I could have stayed longer. There are normally 10 members in these bands with 8 various people playing brass instruments and 2 others, One on a large drum and the other on a much smaller drum. The only female in the band was missing. She played the smaller drum. I didn't get the full effect, but it was enjoyable and I am hoping to see some more of this before I leave.

Pruning the Sour Cherries and Peter Rabbit's giant cousin
Last week Milan, Mama and Papa and I went out the village of Vina to prune the Cherry trees our family has. There are several fields with several hundred trees in a few of the fields. Not sure how many total, but there are a lot! The days I went the weather was great! The work was easy and it was actually fun. Getting out of the house, hiking up some muddy dirt roads and seeing the country side is relaxing, even if it is work. When we first arrived I noticed rabbit droppings. We went along pruning and in a few hours and a short break for Nescafe and Kiflitsa (yummy rolls) we finished this field. Papa went on to inspect the seedlings we had spent days planting soon after Milan and I had arrived here in Serbia.

Papa found that the rabbits had been chewing on the new trees. Some of them had been chewed almost to the ground. There were only about 5 out of a few hundred that we saw. Hopefully they will keep there teeth off of our other ones.

Interesting fact
Rabbits here are much bigger than the rabbits in the states. (As big as a medium sized dog) I have been hoping to see one, but they have alluded me. (Not hard since I have been mostly in a pretty big town.) Here rabbit hunting is a bigger deal. They yield a nice amount of meat and make for good eating or so I am told. Uncle Milosh hasn't shot any for me to try. Plus the more you kill the less likely your crops will be damaged.

Other interesting facts...
We are North of Africa here and sometimes when it rains the cars turn Yellow. Not from Pollen as we are accustomed to in the US, but from the Sand of the Sahara. The wind is coming north bring some dirt with it. This doesn't happen often, but it is annoying if you have just washed your car. Milan said this happened to him once.

I know I have more to write, but I have been meaning to get this out for a while and think I will be busy this week. I think Milan and I are taking a drive up north to Novi Sad after getting our car fixed from the accident.

Hope you are all well and enjoying a beautiful Spring! It is lovely here right now. I will try to write again soon. Love hearing from you too.
Much love,

The top of the Entrance to the little chapel.
The Beautiful Chapel
Chapel and Bell tower

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