Hello everyone. Sorry we're so slow at keeping this blog up to date, we have some catching up to do, so next few blogs needs to be short – but hopefully sweet.
Last time we'd just arrived at the house of Jonny's brothers friend, Zoran. We were very excited because we'd heard so many good things about him! Staying with Zoran was like a home away from home, he is an excellent host and is now considered a brother, he's become part of the Primmer family :)
He took us for a stroll around his village the evening we arrived which unexpectedly entailed a meeting with the local priest who invited us to his church residence the next day for a BBQ, which Jonny quite suitably named the “priest feast”.
Zoran is the principle of the local school, we joked with him that we know the principle and the priest, so next we must meet the mayor... 'My father used to be the mayor actually' was Zorans response, “We're in good hands”, we thought...
Zoran gave us loads of his time, even though that week was really busy for him at work with very important exams for the children leaving for secondary school. On top of that his parents were away and Zoran was in charge of the house, massive garden and his 90 years old aunt. No problem for Zoran! We enjoyed helping watering the vegetables whilst dodging 'Zeus', his crazy Alsatian dog (you know he's crazy Zoran!), who managed to jump head height and rip Jonnies sleeve! It's now a funny part of Jonnies attire and he even fashioned the rip at a club in Istanbul, he loves this added feature!
We soon blended in to daily life at Hrtkovci. Zoran introduced us to his friends and colleagues in the village and we were enjoying daily visits at school and unforgeable evening gatherings at the many of Zorans friends homes, he's totally loved in the village!
I always considered myself a good cook, but I must say that Serbian women are little gems in the kitchen, especially the baking department.
We were also really impressed by the hard working nature of the Serbian nation. From what we understood, there is a shortage of jobs due to many business closures over the past 20 years from an economic crises. Cash on hand jobs are not uncommon. The few businesses that could offer employment choose not to contribute to the social scheme and benefits. Despite all this, the Serbs are hard at work. In the region of Vojvodina, the land is the gold and water is the life. Peoples gardens are not landscaped lawns and pretty plants, whatever land they have is worked hard to grow fruit and vegetables. They have small stalls outside of their houses and sell their produce to passers by. What is not sold is preserved for the winter. It's really hard work and I admire every single one of them for their tenacious skills and determination.
We were in Serbia at the peak of the 'colika cucumber crises' (affecting Germany) around July. I often think that media create a great panic by publicising incomplete information written in a way that can be misinterpreted in many different ways. In Serbia, people grow their cucumbers from seeds kept from the last years crop, so no risk of infected colika cucumbers, yet, thanks to this 'media blow' we saw people desperately trying to sell 5kg bags of cucumbers for only 1 euro! Needless to say, this was another great impact on the livelihood of ordinary families, which in my opinion, could have been avoided.
Our stay ended after 3 nights, we enjoyed mingling with the locals and listening to their stories. Wish we could have stayed for longer in this perfect community but we'd set ourselves the target of Istanbul in two weeks time, so cycling was a must! We'll be back!!
Sometimes we complain about supermarket prices but we'd now learnt about the effort that goes into growing the food we eat and drink, so our complaining stops here :)