around confiscating our passports
afterward leaving us merely standing there not knowing what to expect
next. No other announcements were made; I did the only thing possible
I relinquished my passport to the Serbian custom official along with
the other western Europeans and/or Americans (if there were any) which
I surmised like myself were attempting to enter Serbia from countries
that were NATO allies in the Kosovo war against Slobodan Milosevic in
1999. There must have been about twenty persons with me just waiting.
All types of nagging thoughts plagued me such as “perhaps my friends
were correct that I ought not have taken this trip…was it really too
dangerous to travel to Serbia with all the anti-American sentiment and
what would happen if Serbian customs decided I was an American spy,
kept my passport and I ended in some unknown jail and/or murdered….who
would find me…what could I do about it etc., etc., etc..”
It seemed nearly an hour passed; me and the others were still standing
there waiting. I didn’t want to seem scared or overly curious by
asking either Serbian custom officials or anyone else waiting with me
anything as to not cause unnecessary attention to myself. I also kept
checking my watch wondering if Darko knew I was here waiting. I had
hoped with his government connections he would at least inquire about
my arrival since he told me he would pick me up. I drew comfort from
the fact Darko was always very punctual picking up and bringing himself
and others to airports.
On numerous occasions I gave
him and others rides to and from them. These and other thoughts
plagued me when suddenly I heard a voice on the loud speaker call my
name, Jill Starr, asking me to go to a customs area to claim my
I was the first person called so I don’t know
what happened to the others standing there still waiting. I hurriedly
went to obtain my passport and was told that I cleared; the guard
pointed the direction for me to go claim my luggage. You have no idea
what a relief that was!
I took in my new surroundings
pleased that I made it into the country successfully. As a young child
my father took me with him traveling the world when he was an active
nuclear engineering consultant for Chas T Main, USAID and the IMF. I
had been in Indonesia during the turmoil in East Timor so I was used to
being in war zones surrounded by soldiers with guns. I was presently
older, but still I found such travel extremely exciting more than
dangerous and looked forward to enjoying the rest of my vacation with
Darko and Bojana.
Making it to the baggage claim
area successfully I was relieved seeing Darko standing their waiting
for me. I was not fluent in Serbian and didn‘t want to publicize it by
asking people questions in English manifesting I was American. I
hurried towards him, giving him a large hug.
I was so glad
to see Darko. I noticed upon my arrival at the Belgrade airport that
there were many female police officers equipped with guns wearing short
mini skirts and extremely high heels. I asked Darko how they
apprehended criminals in such high heels and he replied smirking that
they don’t have to run, they merely shot those not halting in the back
and that stopped them.
Like a dream come true, there I was
in Beograd Serbia against all odds and complaints from my friends.
Darko helped me get my luggage to his friend’s vehicle telling me we
could talk about everything I had to say later because we had to
Darko‘s friend, a German man living in Serbia for
years and an important military employee of the Serbian government in a
grayish older large SUV vehicle with what seemed a special license
plate was impatiently waiting at the front gate of the airport for us.
Darko’s friend did not speak fluent English but he did speak fluent
German and Serbian. Upon writing the first edition of my book I still
wondered who this man really was because Darko pointed out to me
proudly, while placing my luggage in the vehicle of his car, this car
“specifically bore special Serbian military license plates;“ Darko
pointed this out to me at the airport and I was greatly impressed to be
in a Serb military vehicle.
The man picking me up at the
Serbia, Beograd airport with Darko also referred to himself merely by
a nickname. If my memory serves me correct he said to call him, “Babic
or Babo” or something like that. “Babic” is not probably not 100%
correct because my memory is kind of fuzzy on this. However, in coming
across a BBC website with a photograph of Dragan Dabic, the male
construction worker whom apparently Dr. Radovan Karadzic was assuming
the identity of before he was arrested and transferred to the Hague in
2008; it does look about 90% correct in my memory that it was Mr.
Dragan Dabic who picked me up at the Beograd Serbia airport that day.
Even his glasses look the same and he told me he used to work as a
military mercenary for the Serbs during war time and he was originally
from Germany. Whoever it was, he was a relatively short man in height
with salt and pepper hair.
He said he worked in the military during “ the war/s” but (I forget
which war he meant now), did say currently since all “the military
business ended, he now worked construction and was building a second
house himself outside of Beograd because his girlfriend was having a
child. He told me he had several children but was not married. I saw
him also my first night in Beograd at Bojana’s parents residence
visiting as well as a day or so before I departed Beograd Serbia.
We drove all around the city of (Beograd) in his large van type SUV
again; he gave me a large tour of the entire city area pointing out
It seems almost surreal to me actually chance
meeting so many fascinating and exciting people, I