Today, Cassidy Henry (a Fulbright student) and I rented a car and went to Kosovo for the day. Dan was working, Cassidy wanted company, and I needed a re-entry stamp on my passport so I could update my residency in Macedonia.
The weather was beautiful especially coming after a week of gray and rain. Our exit from Macedonia went smoothly, and our first destination in Kosovo was Prizren. The landscape between Macedonia and Prizren is lushly green with the snow-covered Rugovi Mountains soaring above.
The roads are narrow and slow. Cassidy drove the first leg of our journey and ended up meeting a couple of Kosovo traffic police when they waived her over for speeding. Neither of had noticed any speed limit signs. The traffic policeman on the left showed her the radar gun that registered her speed at 55 kph (34 mph). The policeman informed her that the speed limit was 40 kph (24 mph). He told her to get out of the car and Cassidy and the policemen had a discussion--Cassidy using Macedonian and the police speaking Serbo-Croatian--about whether or not she should be fined 35 Euro. The policeman on the right (below) called someone on his cell phone and handed Cassidy the phone. The voice on the other end spoke English and he asked Cassidy to explain what was going on. Then, he said the policeman was his cousin and to tell the police not to fine her. Everyone was smiling and no fine was enforced. We drove even slower the rest of the way to Prizren.
|View at the pass|
|View at the pass|
|15th century Ottoman bridge|
|11th century Kalaja (fortress) on the hill|
Prizren has a restored 15th century Ottoman bridge, Ottoman-era mosques, churches, and an 11th century fortress.
|Sinan Pasha Mosque (1561)|
|The deteriorating Gazi Mehmed Pasha Baths|
Our next destination was Pristina, the capitol of Kosovo. The drive between Prizren and Pristina is slow, slow, slow; we arrived in Pristina after the museums were closed.
|The interesting architecture of the National Library completed in 1982|
|A never finished Orthodox church|
The fence in front of one of the Kosovo government buildings has become a photo gallery for the almost 2,000 people missing (disappeared) since the war in Kosovo. Eerily, some of the images are fading and disappearing.
We walked through a small park with archaeological artifacts possibly from the Roman era. The eroded carvings on the tombstones reminded me of the modern era "photographs of the disappeared."
With the museums closed, there wasn't much to see in Pristina. They have some Ottoman-era mosques, but most were closed for renovations.
|Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque (1461)|
Before leaving, we visited Bill Clinton Street. There is a statue of Bill on one of the corners. The first thing I noticed is that the statue is not proportionally correct. Bill has the body of a child with a large head and hand. Artistic license or an inept artist? Bill is holding a book with the date "24 March 1999" engraved on the cover. That is the date that NATO (US backed) began bombing Serbia and Serbian held Kosovo. Ironically, and perhaps intentionally, there is a dress shop named "Hillary" just around the corner from where Bill stands.
It took about 90 minutes to get back to Skopje. At the Kosovo-Macedonia border, my passport was stamped leaving Kosovo and entering Macedonia. Now I can re-register with the Macedonian police and restart my time in country, hoping no one will notice that the total is more than 90 days.