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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Packing Hell Day: 46 Kilos Is Not Enough for Visiting Serbia

In my 20s, I once toured Scotland and Northern England for two weeks with one tiny bag that fit easily into the plane's overhead compartment. Now that I've married a Serb and we travel to his country several times per year, packing has become a lot more difficult. It's not because I'm a diva.

It's because of all the commissions. Part of "coming from America" is the obligation to bring things for people. In the old days (read the 1990s and early 2000s) you brought gifts for people. Now that sanctions are over and we visit several times a year, gifts are too over the top, but it's assumed that we are open to "orders." As in if you "order" something from America, our luggage will be your personal delivery vehicle. In the past, people called or emailed their requests and then we went on a frenzied shopping trip the day before we left. Now the Internet has changed things. Mostly people order things to be delivered to our house in the US for us to transport to Serbia.

My husband and I are on our way to Belgrade tomorrow night. So this weekend we started pulling out all the boxes of Serbs' stuff that have been delivered to our house recently. It was a truly impressive mountain. Most was either bulky, such as a large boardgame, or heavy, such as engine parts, or both, such as classic 33 rpm LPs.

We lucked out and got what I think are the absolute last tickets to Europe that allow two pieces of 23 kilo luggage per person. After this, we'll be limited to just one bag each. I was excited about the "extra" luggage because I thought I'd use the space to bring over some stuff to stock our kitchen in Sombor such as Thai sauces I can't get in the Balkans.

No way. I will be able to wrap my underwear around the computer parts and maybe slip a packet of Cilantro seeds under the children's board game. But the bulk of my luggage is not for me - it's for Serbia. When you are married to a returnik, you are expected to relegate your needs.

If you see me on the street in Sombor or Belgrade, I'll be the raggedy-looking American who has worn the same exact outfit for 30 days and counting....

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rosemary, you are too funny.I enjoy
reading your posts.I often read it outloud to my husband. Have a wonderful stay! Tip; I usually mail my clothes and shoes. I feel your pain and frustration!Hope people appreciate your effort.
nina

Mary L said...

I think the word I'm looking for is "jao". I was horrified to see your post. Our nephew is being born when we get there, and we didn't get our tickets before the airlines' change. There's just no way we can make it with 1 bag each. No way. We're going in March - I guess I'll be the other raggedy looking American who has worn the same exact outfit for 30 days and counting!

tinica said...

Last year I agreed to be a "courier" for yachting/boat parts that apparently cannot be found in neither Split nor Rijeka (?!) but the vendor in Boston would not ship directly. This stuff added only about 3 kilos, but was a real pain to pack. For my trouble I was given several liters of local olive oil, but never again!

Allison said...

I know exactly ow you feel! Your blog makes me laugh so hard but this one is DEAD on! Vitamins, mugs, chalk, horse syringes (?)! Who needs a change of clothes?

jeju said...

Rosemary you got to keep us updated more often. The post was over 2 and a bit months ago.

Gordo said...

I once had a friend here in Canada ask that I bring a "small" bag over to Belgrade for her sister. ( I pack light so I could fit all of my clothes in 1 bag. ) Her small bag was over the 22kg limit, so I looked into it to see what if anything I could remove. I opened the bag and to my surprise was a 10kg bag of cat food. "But it's for my sister to feed the neighbourhood strays", she cried empathically. I dumped the cat food and promised her I would buy some in Serbia for $3, instead of my paying $75 for an overweight bag.

Holly said...

Oh this is so accurate. My husband is Croatian and we visit back and forth. Last time we had company from "back home", his cousins ordered some Victoria's Secret to our home, for his mother to tote back to them in her luggage! LOL!

Mary Stojanovic said...

Great blog! I hate the "shopping" trip we have to take before we embark. However, my sister in law only ordered a vegetable peeler but I went all out and bought a nice Tiffany neck thing for her ingrate son and he hasn't worn it to date. Don't get me going on the hockey jerseys (2 of them) and the CCM ice skates he asked for. We bought them for a VERY pretty penny in Prague when we were there and they too are sitting in a box in the back of the "sifonir". Anyway... I'd like to treat them to some nice dishes that we create here and was wondering if you can cilantro over there. I don't imagine so, unless I travel to Sombor (from Novi Sad) and find your cilantro growing there (from the stashed cilantro seeds).

One nice story to relate is one from our Macedonian friend whose spoiled daughter (now living in Canada and who has taken on a goth/punk lifestyle) asked him to pack her fake ammunition belts in his suitcase and bring it with HIM because she was returning earlier. He did AND he didn't make his flight. He heard the airport authorities paging him but refused to respond. Of course they'd found the ammo belts and he didn't make the flight. He had to stay behind to prove they didn't belong to him and that he wasn't up to anything clandestine.