It being a sleepy, rainy morning, we almost succumbed to the desire to stay put for one more day. Thinking better of it, we slowly pushed ourselves to motion, dutifully packing our things in a half-awake and hungry daze. It took some time, but once our bikes were prepared, we plopped ourselves down in the Hotel Professional's lobby to have an enormous breakfast.
For a pittance of four euro, we devoured bacon and eggs, fried mushrooms, a gigantic hunk of burger stuffed with ham and cheese, french fries, a huge sesame seed studded flat bread and two tasty cappuccinos each. When we were through, we set forth into the dreary day, stopping for groceries at a rare Serbian supermarket on the way out of town.
As is usually the case, we were glad to be on the road once we'd been there for an hour or so. It was an exceedingly pleasant ride, and the dark atmosphere was somewhat reflective of our own somber moods.
As we rode, we both wished we could be at home with family. Partly to share in the celebration of new life, and partly to ease the pain of our aging relatives. Tara especially wished she could somehow alleviate the stresses in her brother's life, but felt helpless to do anything from so far away.
It was bittersweet being in rural Serbia this afternoon. The ride was easy, the air filled with wood smoke and the streets lined with all manner of crumbling village homes.
When we came across this particular cottage, we both stopped independent of one another, wanting to capture it for all time with our camera. When I snapped the photo, an old Serbian woman came out and waved! Tara held the bikes while I went over to her to say hello, trying also to explain to her what we're up to. Neither of us understood one another, but I gave her a postcard and went back to the bikes with a friendly goodbye.
As we got ready to go, she appeared from her home and teetered over at a good clip with a giant, toothless smile. She wanted to give us some of her hand dyed easter eggs! She was a absolutely beaming, and seemed to be as tickled as we were by our meeting.
As we packed the eggs away safely, thanking the woman for her generosity, Tara declared, "That's it! I am complete with Serbia! I don't care if we don't see anything else here because WE GOT TO MEET AN OLD SERBIAN LADY!!!". This reminded me of the time I felt similarly about France when a woman declared "ooh la la!" about our trip.
A little further on, we encountered a tiny "bogey" (we call dogs bogeys now, as in "BOGEY, 12 o'clock"). This one was friendly and we petted him for awhile and tried to instruct him to look both ways before he crosses the road. He didn't listen, instead bounding away over the street like a silly fool. I really hope he doesn't end up dead like the many tiny dogs we've seen on the roadside.
Ready to call it a night after a few hours and 60 kilometers, we pulled off the road into a nice apple grove near some train tracks. I made a fire while Tara made dinner: a veggie salad with chunks of Serbian hardboiled eggs, and some sauteed potatoes with garlic.
We spent our evening talking by the fire, marveling at our good fortune while at the same time feeling melancholy about our inability to easily return home, if only for a day.