On the second to last day in Nis the Roma community threw a big party with us. It was great fun and was complete with American hiphop, but also classic Roma music like "
" and "
." I also got a chance to play my accordion for everyone and one friend of mine, Sali, sang a bit (although he was reluctant).
The next day we went to the Preshevo Valley, an Albanian enclave within the borders of Serbia. The police and army presence was VERY noticeable as we walked to the OSCE (A European security watchdog
org) mission to Serbia office in Bujanovic. We learned about what they do and how they try to prevent violent spillover from Kosovo. It was also interesting to learn that the media is a primary security issue for the area since they sensationalize any potentially ethnic-related issues. We also went to an English language library that was interestingly staffed only by people who lacked any knowlege what-so-ever in English. Finally we visited a bilingual media outlet. We couldn't eat in the main
cafe because it was a security risk as it's owned by the local Serbian Radical Party leader.
The bus back to Nis was a bit late to the bus-station so my Academic Director, Kumjana, asked a guy at the station "Is the bus late, is something wrong?"
He Replied: "It will come"
Kumjana: "Is it late?"
Offical: "Of course it's late"
Kumjana: "How do you know it will come?"
Offical: "Because it's always late"
Kumjana then asked why they just don't change the timetable, which I thought was an intelligent question. Anyway... the next day (this morning) we left for Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo as the Tour D' Serbia began in the Nis city center. The drive was uneventful although the border was rather intense. Serbia doesn't officially recognize the border since they still consider Kosovo as part of Serbia. There is only a small police checkpoint on the Serbian side where a guard saw my accordion and asked if we are a band. Soon after, we found ourselves surrounded by barbed wire and heavily armed soldiers. In kosovo it seems like every other building and every other vehicle belongs to an international organization: the UN, UNMIK, OSCE, KFOR, etc... Our hotel is very nice and right next to the American University. It did take a few minutes, however, to clear the cows from the hotel driveway to allow us to pull in. The night set in to the sounds of a call-to-prayer and later a Roma wedding on the next block playing Tallava synthesizer music.