expat blogger

living in Serbia

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life down on the farm, and other vaious topics.

Hello friends and family,
Here is another installment of  my life in Serbia.

Yesterday, early in the morning we went to Vina to stock up on wood for the winter. We spent the day loading a truck with previously cut wood. It was a really big truck. There were 6 of us, and it took us 3 hours. Most of the wood was not too thick, but about a meter long. It was strenuous labor. Exhausting, but good And good hard work helps to stave off homesickness. And even better, I may loose some weight.

When I was walking back to our car three large white geese where strolling up the road ahead of me. While a lone rooster pecked the dirt and fallen leaves on the side of the road. This is the kind of eye candy I love to see here in my little adopted village.

When we got back to the house, unloading the truck was much quicker, and there were only four of us working. After the all the hard work was completed, we ate the feast that Mama had prepared.  We all sat for some time, savoring the food and relaxed after the back breaking, wood dust breathing, slightly dangerous, but good clean work.Well not that clean, I think I was as dirty on the inside as out. I even had wood dust boogers.

A trip to Nis, pronounced Neesh.
Last week week Milan and I said we would help a friend. He planned to go to a bread factory for a huge load of old bread to feed his chickens. He has a small pickup, and wanted us to come with our station wagon so he could double the load.

Pickups in Europe and Asia are much MUCH smaller. They are also more fuel efficient, but cannot haul like an  American pickup. Most cars in Europe are smaller too. While we were in Nis, I saw a Hummer driving down the street. I was kinda shocked at the site. It was so big.  I know this American style super-sized vehicle must have a great deal of trouble getting around in some areas, because we had a tight squeeze a few times on side streets in the city in our little car.

Streets in Serbia, and all over Europe are often smaller. They were designed before cars were popular, or before they existed. Often parking is designed for much smaller cars or no cars at all. Parking on sidewalks and curbs is more the rule than the exception. Law and order is kinda lax here when it comes to parking.

Parking meters in the city.
Here in Serbia, and possibly other places, meter parking is paid with your cell phone. Once you park, you send a text to a phone number listed on a nearby sign, and type in your license plate number. This gives you an hour or two of parking. The money is taken directly from your phone credit. To add more time you just text again later.

Phone credits are paid at little kiosks along the streets in town. you give you cell phone number to the clerk inside the kiosk and they input your number in what looks like a small calculator. They give you a receipt, and a second later, your phone chimes with a text from the cell phone company that credit has been added to your account. These kiosks also sell cigarettes, candy, snacks, magazines, etc. They are comparable to a very mini 7eleven.

On our way out of Nis, we saw these signs. The top blue signs are all for different countries. I find this a bit exhilarating. The sign on the left is for this countries capital, Belgrad, or more accurately, Beograd.  The central sign is for Sofia or Sofija, Bulgaria. The last sign directs traffic toward Athens, Greece, and Skopje, Macedonia. Athens is a mere 8 hour drive south.

Since we have been back, making the rounds to see friends and family is a must! I am so happy to be reunited with such a great family, even if I cannot understand much of what they are saying. Deda Tole wants so much to talk with me. He is more frustrated than I am that my Serbian language skills are so poor. I want to talk with him just as much if not more. He is so precious. My other Deda is just the same. He uses a lot of sign language, and I follow both of them around their perspective farms like a puppy watching them feed, the pigs and chickens.

On our way out from visiting Deda Tole, he went back inside and grabbed us a honey comb, from his hives. I wanted to give you a picture of the comb undisturbed. But Milan had cut it up before I had a chance. Here is a picture of the sweet deliciousness we have been picking at for a late night snack.

My happiness is compounded by getting to reunite with my wonderful friends here. We are already making plans for excursions, and intercultural cooking lessons. This warms my heart, I am so grateful for my friends.

EXCITING NEWS!! There is someone like me here!
A few days ago, I was walking downtown, just as I was about to cross the street to go to a friends house, I saw a lady and her three sons. I could tell she was a foreigner like me, because she is Black. I must tell you, I have never seen a black person here in Serbia before. I know in Belgrade there are some Africans, but this is a small town, and we have only the the staple Serbians, and gypsies.
Back to my exciting news.... I have to say, when I saw her my heart started beating fast. Another person like me!!! I was so excited, I am amazed I even looked for traffic as I crossed the busy main street of town. As I approached her, I heard her speaking in ENGLISH to her 3 sons. The smile on my face got bigger. I know I must have looked ridiculous with joy. I walked straight up in front of her and said "hello" and she said "hello" back. We began a very fast introduction, and exchanged numbers immediately. She is from Zimbabwe, and is married to a Serb like me. She has 3 beautiful boys, and they speak English too!!! We will meet for coffee soon!!! I am so excited!

Serbia used to be a monarchy, and they had a castle in Nis. After the Monarchy ended, the army took over the castle. Since then they have moved out leaving the guard stand as well as the castle vacant. Here are a few parting pics.

This time around my writings about Serbia are going to be less about frustrations, more about life. Concentrated on the good, be positive!

Thank you for reading, I love sharing this with you. Please leave comments if you like. Ask questions. I love to respond!
More to come very soon!!


Anonymous said...

- If you have a postpaid mob. phone number, you pay monthly the amount you've spent on talk/texting/internet... + some company's fee.

- If you have a prepaid mob. phone number, you upgrade the credit at kiosks.

Upgrading goes like this: Kiosk's workers have a postpaid mob. ph. and they use a service called "prebaci" or smth. similar (send over). In nutshell - postpaid num. owners can transfer their own credits to prepaid num. owners.
It works like paying parking place. They type your ph. number + amount of credit, and off it goes. They probably get some percent of every transaction from the mob.ph. company for that.

So, it's not a calculator, it's just some ages old, boxy and inexpensive mob. phone, used only for that.

Enjoy your stay :)

Abby said...

Oh T - Thank you so much for sharing your life over there! It warms my heart! Athens is only 8 hours away?? Are you planning to go? Oh man...I need to get over there one of these days, to visit you, make some trips to Greece and to Turkey too....I am dreaming..but maybe a reality as soon as these student loans are paid off and cash is available! Plugging away so both Charlie and I can have the freedom to travel to see you! Next time hopefully! Love you :) Abby

Abby said...

OH T! I love your stories of LIFE there in Serbia!! And so glad for the positive outlook this time around :) So happy that you found another English speaker in town!

Charlie and I are praying for you and love hearing about both of your lives there :)