Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Serbian Sabbatical

Been meaning to put this up, but was unable to, due to fried computers and so many other project related posts.

Back in January I was dealing with a mess of visa issues. Due to various reasons, I was forced to leave Ethiopia for nearly three weeks to sort everything out from afar. My father recently moved to rural Serbia with his partner Sanja.  They are in the process of reclaiming and reahbilitaring her families farmlands. The two live a beautifully sustainable village life, and my boot out of ol' Abasynnia created a nice oppertunity to spend some time on the family farm.

In the course of a month’s time, I made my way from the green hills of Kololo, to the hazy grays of Addis, to an anomalous Serbian white winter. An interesting cultural gradient as well.  The last three weeks have been spent sorting out visa issues, drafting programming proposals, working my father’s farm, and watching a record amount of snowfall.  Since February 1st, as much as 10 feet of snow inundated urban and rural landscapes. To put it in perspective, the two and a half feet that dumped on the small northern village of Pavlovci, was more than the community expected to receive all winter.  And for that matter, the combined amount for the next three winters.  Unlike much of Southern Serbia, we had no power outages, rather our wood burning stove’s fuel consumption drastically climbed along with the surrounding snow banks.

However, fuel was not an issue.  In the weeks leading up to the freakish European chill, my father and I spent numerous days cutting and splitting meters upon meters of bagrem, walnut, plum, and a very stubborn oaks.  With two of the family wood storage sheds stocked, the unforeseen freeze was little easier to cope with.  Well actually, the constant supply of heaping piles of carbs, protein and sugar played a part as well.

I gained 12 pounds in 18 days. Both my father and I agree… I could have done better.  If it wasn’t for my daily outdoor workouts, some very Rocky III esque slogs, and adventurous walks to neighboring villages, I could have proudly waddeled into the pound a day club. All in all, the almost nightly consumption of locally produced pork, fresh bread, a variety of cheeses and cake was a delectable change in diet.

I am heading back to Kololo in less then a week. I will be sad to leave family and my white winter in years, though I am eager to see the progress in my absence.

The following photos do a halfway decent job displaying some of what I have been up to that doesn’t involve a computer.

Backyard.  Looking down on plum and cherry orchards, as well as acres of
vegetable lots.

Usual mid morning snack.  everything you see was made from products of
Sanja and Peters or their neighbors farm. Fresh bread, three eggs, and few types
of jam.

Mid evening snacks.  Locally raised pork in a variety of forms.  And some
tasty cheeses brought back from a central Europe outing.

Log cutting work station.

Chopping away for the wood burning stove.

Dad and I walking through one of the family orchards.   We were on our way
to creating a plan of attack.  There was about a full 2 acres of forrest that
needed/needs to be cleared to make way for the future grape vines. 

The first drive in the Lada after the first large storm. 

My friend Caki and i decided to walk to one of the nearest villages for a beer.
It took us about three hours to get there.  

Our path.

Made these for Sanja on one of the snow days.  Each
weight is made from a single log.  No glue, nails or screws
involved, just some power whittling.  

Neighbors fields

Neighbors winery fields.

I have a ton of other great photos that I would like to share, but sadly all others are unacceptable do to my fried netbook. If I end up getting the netbook fixed, Ill be sure to add few of the family house, and of course the family.

1 comment:

  1. These are awesome photos. And, gotta love a Lada! (Very fond memories of those when living in Finland).