Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Immediate Differences After Crossing the Serbian Border....

Our taxi driver, a typical Sombor resident in that his parents are a mix of Bosnian and Croatian but 100% Serb, kept glancing at me after we crossed the border on our way from Sombor to catch the train in Northern Croatia down to Zagreb (and thence via tram and bus to Zadar on the Adriatic coast). He was the calm, serious type of young man who barely speaks. But he kept on glancing at me as I sat next to him.

Finally he said, "Here near the border you see that Serbia and Croatia are not much different. No difference really."

"Oh you are wrong!" I exclaimed. "Look around. I see no signs for Jelen Pivo or Chipsie. Croatia is empty." He smiled, his first and only smile of the voyage.

As we got further away from the immediate border, though, I began to notice more differences. Houses were more likely to be detached, soon nearly all in the country and suburbs were. Nearly all cars were sleeker and newer looking, even in small country towns. (In Serbia even brand new cars of local originuse such old fashioned styling that they appear to the uneducated eye to be extremely old, albeit very clean. Our taxi which I assumed was made in the 1970s was only a year old. Thankfully my husband loudly congratulated the driver on such a new car before I made any awful gaffes on the subject.)

By the time we got to the first big town, the difference in economy was more substantial. Women clearly went to the hair dresser rather than doing it themselves at home. And clothing was just that little bit less cheaply made, although similar in style. "This is Sombor a decade from now," my husbvand said. I hope so.

No comments: