A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Saturday, November 17, 2012

From Sarajevo into Serbia, the Details

Sarajevo, Boris, Climbing the Walls, An Unexpected Encounter with a Mennonite, Future Plans

After leaving our hostel in Sarajevo we were invited to stay at the house of Boris, originally from Banja Luka. Boris had been a soldier with the Serbian army during the Balkan Wars, but decided he had no business with an AK 47 in his hands and made himself a civilian. He is now an investigative journalist, and enjoys rock climbing in his spare time. He invited Inge and I to do some indoor "rock climbing", and Inge was enthusiastic, as she has done some rock climbing herself. I thought I would just watch, but instead gave it a try and managed not to hurt myself.
Also enthusiastic about rock climbing is a man named Matt Harms, whom we met at the same place. I was amazed to find that Matt is a Mennonite from the area around Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and he is working with the Mennonite Central Committee in Sarajevo. Along with Boris, Inge, and a friend of Matt s, we peace church compatriots had a beer after climbing the walls.
While we stayed with Boris, he paid for everything and showered us with gifts. I now have thermal gloves, and a nice sweater to help me through the Balkan winter. I think Boris may have only loaned me the sweater, but since I was still wearing it when it was time to go, he had the good grace not to tell me to remove it as I hiked away. Boris also commented on my blog, telling me he liked it because it was an easy read and required no thinking. If I had any illusions at all about a book about this walk, Boris has dashed them to pieces. If I change my mind, I will hire Boris to be my ghost writer.

Mountains, Minefields, Keeping Warm on a Budget 

After Sarajevo, Inge and I walked through some beautiful, mountainous country, on a dirt road bordered by the occasional minefield. As night fell we camped about five meters from the side of the road, worried that we might be pushing our luck to stray too far. A few nights later we camped through our first hard frost. As my sleeping bag is rated for 5 degrees Centigrade, and my mat is a 3 euro ultra thin wafer, I didn t sleep much. Since then I have acquired a nice piece of cardboard to help out the mat. I also wear all my winter clothes to bed, with the exception of the down coat I have for a pillow. Until it gets really cold, I should be okay with this arrangement.  
One night we asked a pig farmer if we could camp in his field, and we were invited to sleep in the family s house for the night. We stuck to our tents, though, as we wanted a very early start. I did go in for dinner though, and was served a banquet with lots of rakija, which I tried hard not to drink. It was impossible not to, though. Anyone who has ever experienced Balkan hospitality will know what I mean.

The Little Black Road Dog
At the border with Serbia we noticed a small, black dog lying in the sun. I imagined it to be a dog content with lying about, and being fed and scratched behind the ears by bored border guards. Instead, as we walked into Serbia, the dog ran ahead of us. For the past year I have been chasing off dogs that try to follow me; I simply can t take care of a dog. But this dog kept apace, but thirty meters ahead. Where could I chase it to? For the rest of the day the little black dog trotted ahead of us, as if we d hired it to lead the way. Whenever a car passed, the LBD would chase it, which had us wincing at first, then laughing, then not even noticing anymore. By day s end, we were camping in the rain and the LBD sat out in it all night. Then we fed it, and it has been our dog ever since. I am not always happy with it, and the LBD senses this, and prefers Inge s company. It trembles when I am near it.

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