Yep, we decided to check out Kosovo. We had finished up everything we wanted to see in Macedonia and Kosovo was right there. Plus, the town of Prizren seemed like it would be a nice place for lunch.
There is still a strong contingent of international peacekeeping troops here, and it’s worth knowing that you can’t cross the border on the Serbian side given the dispute involving Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.
But the border crossing from Macedonia was surprisingly easy. We breezed through even after I, uh, maybe-kinda-sorta hit the passport control kiosk with the car. It’s not as bad as you think, but I’ll go ahead and give you a second to relish the image that’s in your head right now. Take your time.
Do you remember that scene from Galaxy Quest when “Lt. Laredo” takes the real Protector out of space port for the first time? It was a little like that. The passenger side mirror has a heroic scratch on it now, but the cherubic man who checked our passports was magnanimous. “It is no problem!” he said, and waved us on. Like it happens all the time.
And so we entered Kosovo.
The drive was beautiful, you guys. This country is stunning.
We passed a few military vehicles on the roads, but it was the speed limit signs that gave us the most pause.
We made it to Prizren without any trouble and found ourselves in a lively, picturesque little town.
The place was so active it was almost as if there hadn’t been a war at all. There were parking attendants and ice cream vendors and kids running around with balloons.
As we walked around more there were clues that tensions are still high.
We were stared at a fair bit, owing either to the fact that I am very tall for a woman or they don’t get many foreign tourists these days. Still, everyone was very nice. We got a little lost trying to get back to the highway, and a kid on a bicycle rode out ahead of us to navigate us back to the main road. We made it back across the border without any trouble (or secondary scratches on the car, thank you very much). All in all is was a fun day with a good lunch to boot.
As I have been reflecting on it all, I am left quite hopeful. Stoking tribal fears leads people to do the worst possible things to one another. And yet, the ones who have endured it all are still putting one foot in front of the other. They are making each other coffee and selling groceries and doing laundry. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s getting better. I am reminded that forgiveness is the price we pay for peace, even as we steadily march along the long path to justice.