Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Lada Legend: The Colonel Goes West - Part Ten

We were pretty thrilled. Six countries down, only one to go. However given the reception at the border, we weren't even sure if the Bosnians wanted us in the country. It was time to get to Sarajevo as fast as possible.

The Bosnian roads are narrow, but in great repair. We were cruising along at about 65km/h (the speed limit) when all of a sudden a cop was motioning for us to pull over. He had a radar gun setup next to his car. This was obviously some sort of speed trap.

As the officer approached the car, I hoped that his English would be poor and we could, through attrition, weasel our way out of a ticket. The theory being that when a common language does not exist, the person in the position of authority will eventually give up because the effort required is too great.

"Good afternoon. Can I see your license and registration?"

So much for that hope. This guy was a no-nonsense, old school cop. There was absolutely no chance of getting out of this.

He told me that I had been going 65km/h in a school zone where the limit is 50km/h--the history function on the radar gun proved it.

"School zone? What school zone? There wasn't a sign."

"Yes, there was. It's back there," he replied as he pointed back down the road.

"But where is the school? I don't see a school."

"It's right there." Again he pointed, this time at a building that looked nothing like a school (more like a farmhouse).

I was very obviously guilty and he made sure I knew it. "The procedure in situations like this," he said, "is for me to write you a ticket for twenty Euros, which you then have to take to the next major city [about 40km away] and pay at a bank. Once you have the receipt, bring it back here and I will give you your license back."

"Whoa. That is quite the process. And on a sunday. Isn't there any other way we can work this out?" As much as I hate using that sleazy question, sometimes it's the only one that will work.

"Well, you could pay me and I could pay the ticket for you," he mused.

"Is that legal?"

"Not really, but hey, what can you do?"

"Ok, fine. But we only have Dollars."

"Hmm...I don't know what the exchange rate is and I have never done this in Dollars before." Why did that sound familiar?

I gave him whatever I thought was fair and we continued on our way. Could this day get any more eventful?

We stopped for lunch in the beautiful town of Vishegrad. On the way out of town, with Amy at the helm, another cop standing on the side of the road motioned for us to pull over. We knew for sure we had done nothing wrong, and so chalked this one up to being a strange car in a strange place. Thankfully, this guy didn't speak any English.

"License?"

"I'm sorry I don't speak Bosnian," replied Amy as she handed over her license.

"Registration?"

I got out of the car, walked up to the cop and handed the technical passport and registration. He looked at Amy's Washington DC license and the Azerbaijani registration documents, thought for a second, realized that this was going to be way too much work, and begrudingly waved us on.

Closer to Sarajevo, some sort of landslide (or so we assumed) closed part of the road, forcing us to take this crazy, winding detour up over a mountain. The Colonel handled it with class. Within minutes we were rolling through downtown Sarajevo looking for our hostel. That ended up taking a lot longer than hoped for. So did finding food, for that matter. It was already dark by the time we settled into the hostel and ate. What a day. We were now sufficiently scared of the Bosnian highway patrol.

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