photography, travels and motorbike culture

The Balkanic route. Torino-Teheran 2/4

I can say I feel well into my journey only when I get to Bosnia Erzegovina where the wonder renews itself in every moment : the first little mosque, the farmers hand picking straw, the luxurious Balkan Hollywood-style villas scattered right in the middle of a poor countryside where people still travel by horse carriage.
I stop in a village to look at my map and it starts raining through the bright light of the sun.
A Roma girl asks for money and when I decline, she gets into a grotty van and moves away with the rest of her family. Beauty and anarchy .
For a moment I am stunned by the tiredness and by the atmosphere I am breathing in and I am reluctant to turn on the engine and carry on.
Sarajevo welcomes me with rain and with the signs of the war on the 70’s palaces located in a council area. I find a room in the old town and I allow myself to get charmed by the light which has turned back to its brightness and by the sound of prayers coming from the big mosque.
The following morning I want to visit Kovaci’s cemetery and climb up the hills to take in the view of the city from above.
it’s 11 o’clock when I get on the road to Serbia , unaware of the risks I am about to encounter. By mistake I end up on a military road filled with small tunnels from which I come out miraculously unharmed.
Noisy evening at the Livade Hotel of Cacak in Serbia. While I oil the chain, in the car park, in front of the main entrance, I see some wedding guests arriving. At the time of the wedding cake, a friend of the groom approaches the musicians’ table, next to me. He has a bunch of notes rolled up in his hand and he puts them into the front pocket of the man with the trombone. He gives a sign with his head. The musicians respond in a military fashion: they jump up on their feet grabbing their instruments, trumpet, trombone, bass drum and they start playing whilst marching.
Like Balkanic military troops, they irrupt in the room and everyone is in a frenzy.
In Sofia, I stay in the luxurious Best Western, renamed “True Adventure Hotel” and in the morning I fall off my motorbike while I do a U turn on a wrecked road.
Just like a patient hitcher I wave with my hand. Stani is the first one to stop, he gets off his economy car and helps me to pull up the bike that likely luckily doesn’t have a scratch. Now, straight to Turkey.
At the border on the way out of the country, a dull Bulgarian soldier with big dull Bulgarian soldier’s glasses and no intention to smile, keeps me waiting whilst checking thoroughly my passport. He then sends me off to the Turkish area with an abrupt gesture. Checks become even more meticulous. The passport is carefully sifted, scanned and registered. Same for the bike’s documents. “Where are you heading to?”. “To Iran”. “Why?”. “A tour by motorbike”. “Shall I believe you?”.

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