Being guest in Serbia

Right after crossing the border to Serbia coming from Timosoara, the difference is at first not noticeable: hot, dry land, some burning fields at the horizon, flat lands. Only the first hills after the carpathian basin are a treat to the eye, finally having a horizon again to hold on to.

In Vrsac, the first town of Serbia, we decide to stay for the night, if possible on a campground so the sweat is showered off more easily. But there is none. No need for one either as long as the Serbs are living here: right at the entry to the village, we ask a woman - with gestures mostly - working in a rather poor looking yard of a house where we could set up our tent. No good idea at hand, so why not setting it up right there on the spot? Said, done. Some trash removed, some fruit leftovers thrown away, and ready is our camping spot. Of course, the neighbourhood is interested, soon we are surrounded by 4 women and 2 kids, all between roughly 2 and 75, whos names and more we are later to find out over a delicious cup of Serbian coffee.

Danjiela and Zora, the mother of the kids and the woman we initally asked are offering help for everything, whether it is for washing ourselves or our clothes. It is obvious that they are not living on the wealthiest side of Serbia, but whatever they offer really comes from their heart. The evening is spent gesticualting who we are, where we are from and of course, where we go. Great fun if people like to laugh so much as our hosts! For the kids - and the adults - our presence seems to be a very interesting change in an otherwise maybe (?) rather dull town, the tent is immediately turned into the kids playground and the digital camera into their favourite, yet unknown toy. As we have discovered before, the Ohne-Woerter-Buch does the rest. The kids love it due to its images, the adults due to its real potential to communicate. Tears on the kids side as soon as the adults claim it.

After our camping-dinner we are invited to Danielas family for coffee, palatcinky and beer. And of course as usual cigarettes. In the house we first realise how immense the difference between 'us western europeans' and the 'eastern europeans' is: The 4-headed family lives on a surface that is maybe a fourth on what we have at home for two persons. The toilet is a hole in the ground behind a wooden door in corner behind the house. The living room is also the kitchen and the parents bedroom at once. The paint is falling of the cracky walls and besides 4 chairs and a table, a bedsofa, a TV and a supersmall kitchen alcove there is nothing in here. On the other hand, the friendliness and joy over the guests is unlikely more present than in most places we have been so far. The few things they have are first offered to us before anyone else takes. We feel very warmly welcomed in Serbia and are glad to have little, swiss souvenirs to give away to our hosts!