Pustolovina: adventure in Serbian

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A bit more drama - encore

The one month deadline that R had given me has passed, so we met up last night, after the sun had set and everything cooled a bit. I wasn’t looking forward to it; I am bad enough at these sorts of talks in English. We wandered around Kalemegdan and listened for a bit to a cover band that played both The Doors and Mano Negra, before sitting on a rock wall overlooking the Sava and having ‘the talk.’ I reiterated that I still do not want to date him. He offered me more time to think it over, but I declined, knowing that wouldn’t be necessary. I told him in my especially-bad-since-I-didn’t-speak-it-for-two-weeks Serbian that I would like to remain his friend. He declined that offer, saying that he already had enough friends.

I was hoping to preserve the friendship, but I know that he has to do what makes sense for him.

Still-- and I know I am being selfish; he's hurting more than me now--it hurts a bit to know that the possibility of getting in my pants was all that made my company tolerable to him.

In to the fire

I have been back in Beograd for nearly a week and am finding it a bit hard to adjust.

I think there’s some culture shock going on. In two weeks, I went from Belgrade, to a mostly Christian retreat (despite promises made to F, I did not walk around in my bikini top as a ‘cool girl. It would not have been understood.) to anything-goes Amsterdam with law school-attending D and his professor-in-odd-corners-of-the-world (Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Seattle) father. And then back to description-defying Belgrade. In addition to the shifting cultures, I am back living alone for the first time in almost three weeks. It's an adjustment.


But mostly, I blame the heat. In the north, I was wearing coats and jeans and long sleeves. Here, I am taking 2-3 cold showers a day. Tomorrow, it should hit 40 Celsius, which is a much less intimidating number than its triple digit Fahrenheit equivalent, but still equally unpleasant.

It makes people act like it’s winter again. No one leaves the house without a good excuse. I find myself plotting the quickest routes from one place to another if I have to go somewhere in the heat of the day. I spent most of the weekend holed up with a few friends in an out-of-town friend’s air-conditioned apartment. On Sunday afternoon, I went out for a coffee with a few friends. We were the only people in the café.

Today, there was no line at the post office when I went to pay the bills (usually I wait for at least five minutes).

The city has become a ghost town.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I am back in the land of internet-connectivity (specifically, Amsterdam, more specifically, my friend D's dorm room) after a retreat in Bonn, at which I laughed more than I had in months. Any attempt to explain the inside jokes that developed over the course of last week would fail.

And Amsterdam is lovely... like an extreme version of Portland. PDX has bike riding, but the streets of A'dam are filled with bikes. (I have been told that bikes outnumber people in this city... and I almost believe it.) While PDX leads the US in strip clubs per capita, A'dam has brothels (not that I visited either...) A similar drug use analogy could also be made. Even the weather is Portland-but-more-so. It feels like a Portland October here, with me toting an umbrella and a jacket everywhere, but frequently wearing only a T-shirt. It's hard to believe that it is still July. (My return to BGD in a few days will relieve me of any fall-like delusion.)

Another fun thing about this city: the Miracle of Amsterdam. It's the only miracle story I know in which vomit plays a central role.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I am back in Budapest.

One of the most challenging/exciting parts of being in a new place where I do not speak the language is the little surprises and not quite knowing what I am getting myself into.

Yesterday,at a coffee place recommended by RW, we discovered that there are no English-language menus. Instead of just asking for a cappucino, I pointed to a random item on the coffee menu and ended up with a small bowl full of cappucino with cocoa powder. Delicious.

At the Gellert Baths- N's parents generously offered to treat us - we opted, not just for the baths, but for 'mud treatment.' My shoulders, spine, hips, and knees, were covered with thick warm mud. I was wrapped in a sheet, left to lie there in the dark for 20 minutes. I felt like a celebrity.

At lunch, we selected cold fruit, inspired by JW's praise of the colf fruit soup she recently had in the Baltics. Amazing. A yougurt-based soup with a dominant sour cherry flavor, but also with spices and chunks of other fruit (apples, cantalope, currants). The meal also included camambert with sour cherries, eggplant with tomato sauce and Hungarian fish soup. The random restaurant we stumbled upon turned out to serve one of the best meals I have had in a long time.

I travel on to Bonn this afternoon. I am hoping that these pleasant surprises continue, but I have my doubts.