I have just bumped into an American girl from Florida, with Fulbright scholarship, in Costa Coffee in Nis. I know, weird, right? There are only the two of us, in front of laptops and without cigarettes, and of course, we both live in the States. And she has a Mac. I should have known even before I asked her if I could share her outlet, the only one in the non-smoking area.
Why would they need more outlets? Who goes to a cafe alone, and with a laptop?! And doesn't even smoke?!
So, I've been in Serbia for the last two weeks. Four days in Belgrade, two in Vojvodina, and the rest in Nis.
I was surprised at how Belgrade affected me this time. I mean, I have always loved the city, I have lived in it for three blissful years, and always felt nostalgia for it when in the States.
But this time, I was instantly frustrated with smokers, and the fact that it took me a while to find a non-smoking restaurant downtown to have lunch, and a non-smoking cafe to have coffee in. It's also remarkably dirty. Cigarette buds everywhere. The city will, in a few years, have cigarette buds instead of concrete, unless they start cleaning, or increase the price of cigarettes. Or come up with a fine for littering-- my personal favorite.
The people also seemed depressed. I don't know, this time Belgrade seemed unwelcoming and grey.
I still had Greenet Moka/Mocca/Mocha in Nusiceva every single day. It's my little Belgrade ritual--I buy a local paper or magazine, order a small Moka with whipped cream and act alien.
I did work a bit. I had two successful interviews with two remarkable people--former Serbian prime minister Zoran Zivkovic and CANVAS founder, former OTPOR leader, Srdja Popovic who made me laugh all through our interview and was so incredibly positive. The exact opposite from what was in the air.
My analysis? He travels a lot!
Nis is more-less the same since a year ago, maybe even slightly improved when it comes to the infrastructure, but the people are desperate. Everyone I talk to is pessimistic, bitter and doesn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately.
I did manage to indulge a little (or a lot) by , for one, finding a warm private pool near my parents' house, to which I'm going almost every day. I was stunned when they told me they are closed on Sundays!
Hence, this blog.
I only took one horseback riding lesson this time which I deeply regret. The reason is the stick shift. I hate the bloody thing. I drove my father's new car from the OMV pump half way from Belgrade to Nis, and I did fine on the highway, but once I got to the city, with all the pedestrians jaywalking, and bad driving, I had to stop-go, stop-go, and the bloody thing has six gears! Six stupid gears! Who needs six gears?! An Audi, of course. I hate those too.
So, in order to ride, I have to drive, and I didn't want to drive the damn stick shift, so I didn't ride. And now I'm sad.
I love it, horseback riding, I missed it, and I'm an ass.
That's my new resultion--I'm going to find some kind of regular horseback riding around DC as soon as I get back there--in a month.
I'm here for another four days, then I'm heading to Skopje. It will be interesting to compare Macedonia to Serbia at this point in time.
And that writer was right (as writers usually are).
"You can't ever come home."
I don't even know what home is anymore....