30th April 2018
Since we cannot enter Kosovo directly via Serbia, we have to take an hour’s detour via Macedonia. At the border we stand in a long queue of cars and wait, and wait… We realize what it means to be outside the EU and far from the advantages of the Schengen agreement. The wait in the queue reminds us of vacations when we were children, which always meant endless controls at the borders.
A grumpy-looking border official behind the counter doesn’t accept Sven’s old ID and he has to go back to the car to look for his passport. Our green car-insurance card isn’t valid here either, so we have to buy a Kosovan insurance. It takes a while before all of the bureaucratic formalities are done and we can move on.
We are curious about what awaits us during the next days. And a little nervous because we are moving on unknown territory – none of us has ever been here before. We are in a country which was in a state of war only 19 years ago.
We are driving on a narrow, dusty road towards Priština, the capital. Suddenly somebody needs to take a pee and we want to stop in a field. I remember the advice of the Foreign Ministry not to leave the main roads, since there is still a serious risk of mines in Kosovo. These often haven’t been documented and time and time again new mine-fields are found.
Slowly we make our way behind construction vehicles. On the curvy road we can hardly see a way to pass. Kindly enough the driver of the loaded truck in front of us gives us a light signal. AHHH! STOP! That was apparently the signal for oncoming traffic. When the truck gives us another sign, we don’t dare to pass anymore on the narrow road. Several bends later, a police car overtakes us and we take our chance and finally pass the truck ourselves.
Huge cement columns rise up from a river valley. Dust everywhere. Masses of construction workers and vehicles. This giant project winds along the road for kilometres on end and is a sign that the infrastructure of the country is being worked upon, amongst other things to improve economic relations. Along the road we also see Albanian flags everywhere. We are surprised to see these instead of the flag of the Republic of Kosovo. Old American school buses remind one of old films and of the American influence in Kosovo.
We arrive in Priština and malls with huge bill boards line the streets – neon lights blinking everywhere. Neo-liberalism jumping full-tilt into our face. We feel like we’re in Las Vegas, right here in Kosovo. We hadn’t expected this and feel a bit clobbered over the head, but are also very curious about what awaits us in the coming days.