19 may -- podgorica, montenegro
a young woman walking her large dog invites us to her apartment for tea. we are initially wary but follow her. in the apartment, her boyfriend, a very thin young man sits shirtless at the coffee table watching soccer highlights and rolling a joint. his face is gaunt. he used to live in los angeles but was deported after immigration services discovered that he was attempted to secure a sham marriage. he seems resentful despite openly admitting that he paid a woman ten thousand dollars to marry him. his girlfriend appears to understand. it is a bizarre situation.
he asks where are going next and we tell him peja, kosovo.
'pec,' he says, suddenly alert, 'why are you going there?' we didn't answer right away. 'it's filthy. it's a filthy country, the city, the people are filthy. it is still very dangerous. you will be attacked.' he is practically spitting. we steer the conversation elsewhere. we are not attacked in kosovo.
concrete apartment blocks cluster in the city center. they appears to have been drained of color from yesterday's hail storm. they have stark lines and remind me of piet mondrian; rectangles, oddly irregular perpendicular lines, solid colors, complex rhythms and breaths beneath apparent simplicity. clothes hang out of practically every window.
a bus gets halfway through the parking lot gate with the luggage hold still open. a bus driver gets his attention by waving an empty water bottle, and the chauffeur stops the bus to close it. he laughs as he walks back into the bus. all the drivers seem to know each other. they smoke and smile.
a sign states that this bus station was built by USAID. no one turns to thank me. as we leave the station ourselves three stray dogs walk into the street and we almost hit one.
20 may -- various, kosovo
a roadside café in kosovo flies an american flag.
there is a george bush boulevard and a bill clinton statue and a bill clinton boulevard. our elected officials have become their supposed heroes. i wonder what my generation thinks of them.
at a bar, children make rounds armed with buckets of peanuts and cigarettes to sell. i do not buy them and smile but they've moved on. a young boy sings in a middle eastern style in the pedestrian zone, beating a drum. he is ten or twelve, and has a beautiful voice.