O Balkan Pioneers: Anatomy of an Escape Route
by Antidote’s Ed Sutton
Perhaps twenty years old, probably younger. Kabul, Afghanistan.
At the transit point in Adaševci, buses arrive in clusters from points further south in Serbia: the border camps of Preševo (on the Serbian-Macedonian border) and Dimitrovgrad (Serbian-Bulgarian), or from Belgrade. In Adaševci, there is a wait—sometimes several hours, sometimes half a day—for the arrival of a Croatia-bound train in the nearby city of Šid. When it comes, the buses deliver travelers to the train station there, from where they are taken to the Croatian border camp in Slavonski Brod.
During this wait, once the initial crush of arrival is over (travelers are often not let off the buses for the entire trip, even if the driver stops for a bathroom break himself; meanwhile volunteers meet the arriving buses immediately to distribute food and hygiene items and direct travelers to medical or internet services), everyone gets a little bored. Kids kick a football around on the asphalt: what was once a parking lot in front of what was once a roadside motel. People gather in clumps, smoke cigarettes and converse. They try to distract their babies from the strain of travel with song, laughter and dance. They drink cup after cup of blindingly sweet chai.
Q. noticed me chatting with a companion of his and approached cautiously with a couple other friends in tow. “You are speaking English,” he gently interrupts. “Do you have a phone my friend could use? To call his brother in France?” Continue reading O Balkan Pioneers: Anatomy of an Escape Route