Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Lada Legend: The Colonel Goes West - Part Eleven

Morning in Sarajevo. The Colonel had spent the previous day attending a film festival and was not interested in getting an early start. It was Rize, Turkey all over again, except this time there was no one around to help. We were on our own.

The car was parallel-parked on a sidewalk with about ten feet on either side to work with. To get it bump started, we needed to push it up close to the car in front and hope that we could generate enough speed over the twenty feet. The road wasn't an option because it was narrow and was pretty busy.

With Amy at the helm and Sarah and I pushing, we managed to get it started on the 3rd try. All those times we watched as somone else bump started our car had finally paid off. It was a triumphant moment in our days with the Colonel.

Our first stop of the day was at a restaurant just outside Jablonica. What was so special about this place was that it had nine, count them, nine lambs roasting on spits at any given time. Beautiful, delicious meat turning slowly in circles tended to by a single meat poet. We couldn't wait to dig in once the kilo of lamb arrived at our table.

Next up was the Bosnian-Croatian border--our last frontier. The drive through Bosnia was gorgeous. At one point we encountered some serious rain while driving through a gorge. So serious that we had to pull over because the windshield wipers weren't fast enough. Earlier that day, the driver-side window became stuck in the permanently open position. Not so good in a rain storm, especially while parked on the side of the highway.

At the border, Bosnia let us out without any problems. The Croatians weren't nearly as friendly at first. After taking our passports and documents, we got a, "Please pull over to the side, sir." When I got out to go see what was going on, the woman snapped, "Please go back to your car, sir." Okay, then.

Eventually, a male border official approached and asked us where we were going. He then said we needed insurance before we could cross. So over to the insurance place I went. It was a quick process, but once again American Dollars was a seemingly unknown currency in these parts. We got our insurance, but I'm pretty sure it cost us more than the stated amount in Croatian Kuna. In addition, the seller wrote "Renault" as the make of our car. What an insult to the Colonel! (the border guards made me go back to the guy to get it changed)

Once I had the insurance document, the people in the customs booth were much more friendly. I asked the all-important question: Can I leave Croatia without the car? "Yes," was the reply. Success! One of the women handed me back our passports and I went back to the car. Sarah just happened to double-check that we got stamps and noticed we had not. Good thing. I took the passports back for the three stamps and we were officially in Croatia. The only thing that could stop us from completing our journey was some sort of paralyzing mechanical failure.

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