What It’s Like to Chill W MLADIC


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apartment; I did. On the way to his
father’s, Darko made a few important stops for the purpose of giving me
the grand tour.

    We only stopped briefly at some military
installations; we didn’t get out of the car.  We drove up to the gates
and Darko pointed out, “look Jill, this is an important military
facility.”  Darko always sarcastically smirked as he pointed out these
places to me.  The only place we got out was in front of the bombed out
Chinese embassy in Beograd.  There were Serbian military officers in
front of the embassy.  I was amazed owing to I always had thought
bombed out buildings were totally demolished.  But standing in front of
the Chinese embassy that was bombed by the NATO in 1999 taught me the
definition of a “smart bomb.”

    Only the portion of the
building hosting the embassy employees on the upper level of the
building itself was demolished and in particular the window where the
Chinese embassy officials worked.  I could see in the window and I even
got a sad glimpse of the Victorian styled chair sitting there empty in
the bombed out window.  I wondered who used to sit there and if they
were dead or alive. No other parts of the building was seriously
damaged.  There were even flowers and trees still growing untouched in
front of the building.  I strongly believe that NATO knew exactly what
they aimed at when they bombed the building. 

   
I brought a digital camera with me on my trip but upon returning to the
United States, all the film Darko claimed to snap for me was returned
by my local film developer as blank.  I wondered if Darko told me the
truth about snapping photos for me at all.  Throughout my trip he
insisted on taking all the photos I wanted claiming I take poor
pictures. 

    It since crossed my mind he may have removed
the film from my camera prior my departing Serbia so I could not take
it back with me.  One thing I am sure of  is both Darko and Bojana
refused having any photos taken of them throughout my entire stay. 
After leaving the scene at the Chinese embassy, we made our way to the
home of Darko’s father driving through a beautiful park not dissimilar
to Central Park in Manhattan along the way.  I can’t be certain what
park it was because I didn’t know the geographical area; we soon
arrived at our destination.

    Darko’s father lived in the
most incredibly beautiful green hills in an area of Serbia existing
somewhere between Beograd and Montenegro.  Immediately upon entering
and meeting his father, stepmother and grandmother who recently passed
away, I felt part of the family.  Although his family did not speak
English, Darko and Bojana translated for me.

     Darko’s
grandmother was an extraordinarily warm and wise woman in whose
presence I felt comfortable and happy the entire time.  Before dinner
there was the customary libation of grappa (a Serbian hard liquor of
incredible potency).  If only I could find grappa here in America. 
After another dinner that would give Manhattan’s top chefs a run for
their money,  Darko brought me upstairs into a guest room to take a nap.

   
I told him I was not tired but he insisted I nap saying we would be
driving all night before reaching Montenegro and I need my rest.  I
must have slept an hour before he awakened me to say our parting
goodbyes and begin our journey.  I was extremely excited; Darko
promised me a three week Adriatic holiday allowing me swimming
privileges at every beach from Hercegovni to an area he said was only
ten meters from Kosovo’s border.  We couldn’t go into Kosovo Darko said
because it was too dangerous.  I knew Darko had been shot several times
and almost killed in Kosovo previously so I didn’t push the issue. As a
former lifeguard and avid swimmer, I couldn‘t wait for my vacation to
start and Darko delivered it to me as promised.    

    The
onset of our journey began at sunset; still adjusting to the time zone
differential I dozed off in Darko’s backseat; for how long I’m
uncertain.  I dozed on and off until sunrise when we reached the
Montenegrin border.  I mean, there wasn’t much to see driving in the
dark cover of night.  The wider well lit highway we initially set out
upon gradually narrowed as the highway lights became fewer.  Eventually
there were no highway lights at all.  My body continuously shifted from
one side of Darko’s backseat to the other making sleep difficult.

   
It was obvious the road we traversed was analogous to Pacific Coast
Highway in California driving through Big Sur. It was mountainous,
dangerously ridden with hairpin turns and no guardrails.  In
Montenegro, inexperienced travelers could almost mistake the scenery
for Big Sur with the beautiful blue Adriatic sea hugging the bottoms of
the cliffs we not so cautiously traveled.  I asked Darko to slow down
because he was driving like speed racer.  He replied not to worry
explaining he could drive these roads blindfolded he knew them well.  I
thought to myself, better safe than sorry buddy. 

   
It is a good thing I had some prescription Xanax with me, I popped one,
maybe two just to relax while simultaneously trying to hide this act
from Darko since he hated drugs in general.  He especially hated my
taking the prescription medications my doctor gave me saying I didn’t
need them, they were addicting and poison.  He also strongly disdained
cigarettes; Bojana smoked covertly.

    The sun was just
rising when Darko awakened me excitedly pointing out the tunnel we were
driving through.  I think he said at the other end we’d be entering
Montenegro.  Driving to the Budva Riviera in Montenegro we drove
through some similar tunnels; the scenery was unbelievably
breathtaking.  There is no other place in the world I’d rather be than
in Budva Montenegro and I recommend everyone vacation there.  We were
making our way to a seaside resort a friend of Darko owned.  Still
driving like speed racer around the hairpin turns and mountainous
cliffs compromising the road, we finally arrived at our destination
safely. 

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