Sunday, September 24, 2006

I am not afraid to drive in Sarajevo anymore

Ferry at Dvernik from Croatia

Until this trip 9/14-17 I had been very wary about driving in Sarejevo where cobble-stone streets built for carriages wander up and down steep hills and around deep curves in which you can be sure children are riding bikes and shoppers are walking down what on an actual road would be the middle line. Also, I should mention that Bosnians can hold their own with NYC cab drivers for rudeness, speed and inattention to traffic laws or human life.

But no more. Sarejevo drives seem like a piece of cake to me now after the ride to Hvar. The experience is not unlike driving 50-plus miles up and down the NY State Thruway in winter to Gloversville for my first job. I was a brand-new driver and that expedition terrified me. Then it got ordinary.

I had anticipated no such terror getting to the island paradise of Hvar, a fat-cigar shaped island off the coast of Croatia in the Adriatic. Our plan was to drive through Bosnia to Dvernik, take a ferry to the far eastern tip of the cigar, then drive across the island to the far western tip -- Hvar town. It's about 50 KM.

I didn't worry when Hawley said she couldn't drive stick. I could do it. I didn't worry when Emin warned us that it was hard ride. We were driving across an island in the Adriatic -- how hard could that be?

The ride through Bosnia was great. The half-hour ferry ride a breezy delight. Then came almost three hours of hell.

Ok the road from the ferry to the town was paved. That is the only good thing I can say about it.

I have knick-knacks on SHELVES wider than that stinking "road." It was a driveway at best. And Hvar island is mountainous so that driving across it means going straight up heavily wooded mountains and turning endless hair-pin turn then coming steeply down the other side.

And GUARD RAILS I now add to my list of American inventions that like the flush toilet and Cheese Doodles really ought to be imitated world wide. This tiny little strip of macadam ran through sections with sheer drop-offs on BOTH sides.

There are two distinctive road signs along this path, both hideous warnings. One shows an arrow twisted like a snake. It means serious curves and deadly drop offs ahead. The other was a tree exploding into fire. Also not reassuring.

My knuckles white, my neck sunk into my shoulders I drove on, trying to laugh and act at ease.

At least it isn't dark, I thought.

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