Seven months into 2012 and what have I done?
A visit from Ulrica, my Swedish friend was great during the New Year, but I did make her sick as hell for about four days due to a deep fried Mars Bar with chips- yeah, that’s not just a Scottish myth-.
Then the standard; Swimming in the sea to mark the beginning of a New Year dressed as a pink fairy. Demolished a meter long burrito to earn a T-shirt and then completed a twelve mile assault course including fire, water, mud, ropes and electric shocks in a respectable time. To be honest I was just trying to outrun those fucking midges (Scottish mosquitoes).
I’ve given up drink for now because I want to save for my next adventure and cold beer on a cold day’s pretty shit anyway.
After an email from a South Korean girl I met in Nicaragua suggesting a farm in Italy and a Facebook message from an Italian friend asking if anyone fancied a project in Bosnia, I decide that two birds can indeed be killed with one stone.
In Scotland the word bird can also be used to describe a girl. Let me just assure you that both girls are very much alive and well. In this case I am just suggesting I can do both things at once.. kind off.
. . .
My phone springs to life at 4am and it’s time for Bosnia. Time for my mobile to shut the fuck up and with that I drift back to sleep.
Today I’m at my friends house in Venice and about to set off on a road trip with her friends while she jets off towards the UK for a job interview. We will drive through.. Sorry.. They will drive through the winding valleys of Slovenia, flat and open spaces stretching for miles through Croatia and finally into the wild, rouged terrain of Bosnia and Herzegovina listening to me talk shite all the way.
A scout house not so far from Gracanica in the Sprsk Republic is what we will call home during our youth work here before taking part in a summer camp in Miricina with people from both Serbian and Muslim communities aged 15 to 25. At the risk of sounding like a fucking travel brochure I really have to say that the country side around here is some of the best I’ve seen, on this side of the world anyway. I’ll enjoy the tranquillity of it before the tourists start to flock.
In the grounds of our school I’m kept on my toes with football, arm wrestling, making Dream Catchers and the local favourite game of Black man! In this game I have to run around the football pitch catching kids before they make it past the line and turn them also into Black men. Hey, I didn’t make the name!
In this 40oC heat I have to say I’m dying a little, running out of clean socks and therefor smelling a little and needing ease up on the Rakija (Bosnian spirit). If you ever choose to travel with a group of people from other parts of the world might I take this opportunity to recommend Italians? Sure, they have a reputation for changing sides when the shit hits the fan but their way with food convinces me that they could make a fucking chair taste delicious! That and of course their kind of easy on the eye.
We’re taken to an amazing waterfall/lagoon deep enough for diving and high enough for dying probably if I get this wrong. After dozens of dives, belly flops and a game of water polo we wind up our time back at the school with a game of bingo.
Now, so far I’ve not done anything stupid but as I hold my bag of Scottish gifts open for our first winner I suddenly remember with stark horror that I have a packet of Whisky flavoured condoms that might just be in this bag. Fuck!
Thankfully my contraceptive water-balloons are nowhere to be seen and must be lurking in another bag waiting for me to get some future soul all wet and dripping.
–Was that subtle enough?-
Joining the other volunteers for a restaurant meal inside a shopping mall, I waste to time in digging myself a hole by adding to the conversation on books, that I have just been reading Porno. Eh? I try desperately to explain that it’s not a naughty magazine but actually the sequel to a very funny book about heroin addicts. That possibly sounds worse. This moment is turning almost as bad as the time I tried to google my favourite System Of A Down song and typed in a search for Violent Pornography in a packed out Costa Rican internet café. No blocks on that computer then!
Summer camp introduces me to the world of volleyball. For my Scottish friends that would be a strange game played by those who can’t play football. As a nation of shit footballers (Scotland), I believe this is just what we need! I’m completely shit but the rest of my team are amazing and not only do we win our first game but also the entire tournament. 100% record bitch! Modesty’s not my thing.
Not just an introduction to volleyball, but also one really hot Bosnian girl fluent in Italian. Maybe time to learn a few words? Fuck it, that shit never ends well anyway!
On our return from a picnic not far from summer camp (another school), I walk alongside a few new friends when I’m advised by one to keep on the path because if I step on a landmine we’ll all be fucked. I thought he was joking but apparently not. Signs warning of landmines are frequent and plentiful around these parts bringing a stark reminder that things were pretty messed up around here and fifteen years was not so long ago.
After my usual shit attempts at saying goodbye, I realize I’ve just promised I’ll be back next year. Thing is that I have no idea what I’ll be doing this time next year but if I’m not busy coaching Scotland’s new volleyball team then I’ll be sure to make a note in my diary:
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA!