Smells are the first things that strike you. Food is revered, sausage is a delicacy, and ajvar is a culinary delight to be embraced. The scent of cigarette smoke pervades the air. This is Serbia.
Dogs run free, sparring for territory. Lean suburbanites tend impressive gardens, rotating crops with the seasons. Food could be scarce at any time. Friendly locals suggest which brand of bottled water to buy, but smile with crooked grins because they prefer the beer. This is Serbia.
Modern shopping malls vie with art nouveau treasures and political graffiti to grab your attention.
Refugees cluster in tent cities outside transportation hubs, hoping to move north into the EU. Mothers nurse their babies in train station hallways. Sanitation workers do their best to keep things clean. Harried Aid Workers try to help the daily influx of new people.
People go about their normal lives, waiting for buses, shopping the local farmers markets, and loving their cafe culture.
Couples get married, Mothers of the Bride dress to the nines, and young and old dance in the street.
Orthodox priests stroll with teenagers.
But the one thing that stands out overall is the people – their kindness, patience, and dignity. Thank you Serbians for this welcoming introduction to your beautiful county. You are Serbia.
Terri & James