Saturday, August 15, 2015
- Three Continents
Immediately after the border crossing of Montenegro, the road went right down. The temperature increased noticeably almost every serpentine. The border with Kosovo is much lower. There, the customs officer asked me about my destination. He did not want to let me travel to Africa. I should better find a wife in Kosovo and settle down. Thanks for the suggestion! Kosovo is not a big country, I realized pretty fast. After a short time I arrived in Peja.
The recent history is marked by the Kosovo War of 1999 and its consequences. The international legal status of the country is controversial. On 17 February 2008, Parliament proclaimed the independence of the territory. 109 of the 193 member states of the United Nations recognize the Republic of Kosovo as independent.
At the first ATM in Peja I wanted to withdraw money. A man spoke to me in German. Mentor ran a grocery store in Hannover for several years and immediately invited me to drink coffee in his family. They did not want to let me go anymore. Thankfully, I accepted your offer to stay with you.
Mentor invited me on a ride through Peja with a scooter. First, we visited the Patriarchal Monastery.
With its art treasures, tombs and shrines, the Patriarchal Monastery is considered a treasury of Serbian history and the holiest place of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In July 2006, it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage. At the same time, because of the unclear Kosovo situation and the difficult security situation, it was listed on the Red List of the World Heritage in Danger. Unfortunately, you were not allowed to take pictures inside.
Then we drove a bit further into the Rugova mountains. Especially in summer, it is noticeably cooler in this valley. Therefore, the locals use the place in this time very much.
I could not have imagined a bigger start in a new country. Thankfully, I said goodbye to Mentor and his family the next morning.
The temperatures meanwhile scratched at the 40 ° C mark. A few miles to Peja I arrived in Kliqina. There was a great reunion with Driton, my work colleague and his family. I was allowed to stay with them for 3 days. By coincidence, Ramadan ended at exactly this time. During 3 days the Bajram will be celebrated afterwards. For the Muslim population it is one of the most important and probably the most popular festival. Driton and his brother invited some relatives on this occasion to Mitrovica for the last break of the fast.
Mitrovica is also referred to as "the Berlin of Kosovo". After the Kosovo War in 1999, the city was divided into a southern part with almost exclusively Albanian population (about 60,000 inhabitants) and a northern part with predominantly Serbian (about 13,000 inhabitants) population. In Mitrovica, where country-wide, pogrom-like March riots began on March 17, 2004, and where, in contrast to many other places in Kosovo, KFOR soldiers and UN police countered the Kosovo Albanians entering the northern Serbian part of the city it's the most dead during the March riots.
Since June 2008, the northern part of Mitrovica is de facto the seat of the Parliament of the Serbian Community of Municipalities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, which is not recognized by the government in Priština.
After 3 relaxing days at Driton and his family, I continued towards Deçan. On the way there, I drove purposefully a bit through the villages around the main roads to avoid. Here in Kosovo, too, it is not much fun to cycle on these narrow streets with lots of traffic. In Dubovik, after a short time, I was again invited by a man on the street for coffee. Sokol has been working in Switzerland for several years and now runs a construction business here in Kosovo. Grateful and with a full belly, I drove on to Deçan. There I visited the monastery Visoki Dečani.
In 2004, the monastery was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Due to the legally unclear situation of Kosovo and the difficult security situation, it was simultaneously inscribed on the Red List of the World Heritage in Danger. KFOR continues to guard the building. Photography is not allowed in the monastery.
On the journey after a few kilometers already followed the next invitation. A few men at a gas station invited me for coffee and pizza. Agim, the owner, works in Germany and was very good at German. So much hospitality I have not experienced on this trip!
Shortly before Junik I set up my tent in a cow pasture for the time being last night in Kosovo. The next morning I went shopping in a small supermarket in Junik. The shopkeeper lived for a while in Schaffhausen and the neighbor boy, who helps out during the summer holidays in the shop, was able to speak English almost perfectly at the age of 15. The two gave me after shopping or a can Sprite.
With all these great experiences I drove to the Albanian border. On the way there, I somehow decided, if possible, to return to this great country. I would like to sincerely thank Driton, his family and all the people who invited me here in Kosovo.