Now was that man on that Monday morning in Orahovica by the side of the road really looking for his glasses, combing the long grass with a hay fork? I thought I really had understood him well but he also smelled a bit of booze, so his message may have been completely different.
Communicating in the Servo-Croatian language is hands and feet work. It makes aware how much I depend on the spoken and understood language. It also makes aware that I get a little shy when I don’t have that at hand. It gets worse when I see how it makes them shy as well. People come across to me as if they ignore me, often they turn away when I try to communicate in German or English. It is shyness from two sides.
I don’t mind the being alone. After all the communication struggles at the place where I live, I enjoy being on my own.
Yet it also gives some breathing space when I get the opportunity to have a real conversation for a change. In this case it is with Damir and his daughter Dagmar. On one day in Osijek I travel more kilometres by car then a whole week on foot. It provides perspective and at the same time reinforces my conviction that I need to be walking. My walking, which is called ‘Zippelzug’ by Damirs mother and who also insists on giving me a box of home made walnut cookies. For on the road.
It is also good to hear first hand the recent and ancient history of this part of Europe. It reconfirms my aversion against nationalism, regionalism, socialism and capitalism…all ism’s. It feeds my European mind. Damir insists on taking me part of the way and all of a sudden I find myself passing Vukovar, crossing the Donau and going into Serbia. It goes quick that way.