Jeremiah Watt Cycling around God's Creation

long distance bicycle touring

Posts tagged ‘bullet holes’

Blog28-oh brutal Bosnia

I was warned, my cycling friend from Belgrade warned me, that crossing Bosnia by “velocipede” is not for the faint of heart. And from what I witnessed all day today and most of yesterday, he is certainly correct in his assesment. “Oh, brutal Bosnia, lay thy hills flat and valleys wide for but a weaker soul may pass you by!”, from a poem by Sadar Vericioni. And the way my hips and knees feel, I am all in on the laying low the hills.

In most parts of the world, mountains seem to have a direction or rythm that makes geological sense. This feels like God accidentally dropped a handful of those “proverbial mountain seeds”. The mountain ranges here, run in every direction you can imagine. No matter which way you head there is a climb facing you, heck, I think even the water runs uphill!! Funny , as I sit here in my tent, in what feels like the middle of “NOWHERE”, I can here the call to prayer at a Mosque somewhere not far away, the loudspeaker sounds as if its right beside me. Bosnia it divided up into many regions, non of which make any sense to me, but they divide Muslim and Orthodox Christian as well as Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croates and I guess plain old vanilla wrapper Bosnians. So go figger cause I sure can’t.

Bosnia, as a piece of country goes, lands in what I would call the rugged column. Much more so than Mongolia which I would place in the vast column but not rugged. Something that I am becoming aware of when riding these back roads is that there is most often nothing to be bought in the whole place. So, I now carry not only water but also a full days food……dang it, now my bike is heavier again. I am currently SW of Tuzla on small roads, rode for 3 hours up hill the whole time and felt like I was back in Rauraului all over. The whole country has been having flooding and mudslides, of which I have seen and felt much of it. The back roads are severely washed out, rutted, and many places there huge sections of road missing……oh, and did I forget to mention bridges are gone as well. They sure are.

Oh brutal Bosnia, lets pray you are not my undoing. JW, IS OFFICIALLY SICK AND TIRED OF THE DANGED RAIN.  Folks, it has rained hard everynight since I left Belgrade, and I am sick of it. If I wanted to grow gills and moss on my person then become a coffee snob…….I would have moved to Seattle. Sometime during the day, I have to pull things out of the panniers, hang gear along a fence and dry it. If I don’t, we will have to deal with smells and mold again. Generally, I just pick some random spot along the side of the road which has a fence or guardrail that I can borrow as a makeshift clothesline. Hang my gear and sit back letting Mr.Sunshine does his part. On this day I strung my gear out on a bridge railing, and right beside the road was a small store. It took about 3 minutes for a crowd to gather. Anthony, sort of the most curious and spokesman for the growing crowd, suggested he buy me a beer. Of course I declined the beer and took a juice instead, which the gathered men thought was quite funny. Questions were asked, and as best I could I answered. It wasn’t until the teenagers began to show up, that the event got lively. Most of the kids in school take iether English or German as a second language. They were able to ask and then interpret the reply back to the men who were sitting having a beer or six. I finally dug my tablet out to help explain what it is that I do for work. It has been so long, heck, even I found it interesting to see what I do. It was a great hour respite, drying gear. But it was also the 3rd rain stop of the day. Twice I holed up to avoid a deluge of rain that managed to cross paths with my own chosen route.

I have learned a new trick with my cell phone, showed to me by my Serbian cycling friend, Nenad. And it involves taking panorama images on the cell phone. Now that i know how to do it, youguys will most likely get sick of pan shots as a result. So, I will post a few, then we will see how they display on computers and the blog and pass judgement after that to see if we should post more or not. But, if thats to work then I will need enough of you to give feedback to make it worthwhile so that decisions can be made.

omg, its 7.30pm and I am stark raving mad and lonesome and even bored. Its pouring rain so I cant even sit outside and swat bugs. If I work on the tablet getting pictures edited to size etc, it eats the battery very quickly. I most often leave photo work to those times that I have a hotel. I no longer have my solar panel unit and it wouldn’t do much good here with so little sunshine anyways. Today, I pulled into 3 little roadside cafes in order to use WIFI,  I keep getting the notice that due to poor signal I should try again. Yet when i search for the Cafe’s router it shows usually 4-5 arcs/bars of signal strength……QUESTION FOR SOME TECH-TYPE, is this because of a setting issue on my Samsung Galaxy 2 , 10.2 size tablet, or is there another way around the constant WIFI issues I am having. Second question, and it also feminds me to openly apologise to the WORDPRESS folks. I had been blaming them for some photo issues I am having, but, I have come to find out it is a tablet issue. Somehow internally, the tablet strips the usual photo-orientation information away when you try to send or share an image…….hence, everything gets displayed as horizontal….no matter what. To my young friend Steven Butler……yes you Steven, these questions are for a guy like you if you can help. Send a note to……it would be appreciated much.

Pretty sure this is day 12 of rain, it is pouring rain right now and I am camped in a cemetary tonight………I hate chosing campsites late and without my glasses on. Dang near fell in an open hole, ya think God is trying to tell me something? Even though I got a good start this am, I did not burn up the back roads. Too many climbs, the ol knees, hips ade really sore tonight. But I was also taken aback by how sore the leg muscles were, I had no horsepower today, I felt like a pooped scooter all day. Apart from the road being a little tricky with the silt and mud that have washed across it, I pulled over to attempt uploading to the blog as well as found shelter from 4 very heavy downpours…….all great, but got nailed by the fifth. To say we are good and wet is an understatement. As I lay here in my drenched tent, rain got me during setup before I got the fly thrown over, I am all tucked in and have already eaten poorly yet again. Got a seriuos rash going on under my chin and just above my belly button…….I think its from the edges of my life jacket, but I will keep an eye on it.

Good night and may God bless you all, as he has myself. Thanyou to Ted and Tracy, withojt you this would never have happened. Thanks Mom, for doing all that you do, Thanks big Rob, for having me reading thru James……now, what comes next. Pastor Mike, thanks for having the Saints praying for me continually. Thanks Auntie Fawn and Pete, I know your palms are worn thin worrying and praying. And to the many of you who follow along silently, we are thankful to have you along for the journey……..and lastly, I want to thank the Coalinga Curling Club for thier support……sorry I mixsed that labor day weekend outdoor Bonspiel.

Blog27- Bullet holes, landmines and a history of conflict


At this moment, I am basking in sunshine. I have very smelly clothes hanging on a close by fence to air out. Heck, I even took a full on 1.5 litre shower this day to celebrate. My tent is dry, my bag of sleep is getting close to dry, my bike reads 87 degrees at 5.25pm. My camp, is high on a ridge over Palanka, Serbia. My son convinced me to take in Belgrade while I was here, since JW was going to skip it. I told him it was nothing but bullet holes and landmines in an area of constant historical conflict. And his reply, was, thats exactly why you need to take it in Dad. So by tomorrow evening I should be in Belgrade for supper, I’am praying about entering big cities without Pine.


The last blog page had us further south in Sajecar, and I left there on a very tiny back road in pouring rain. The road was a very difficult one for me as the surface was full of cracks and gaps, so that forward speed was very slow. I have no idea how difficult it would have been for a regular mortal, scares me to think. Old roads get very steep grades and this one had plenty of 15 plus grades on it. Big, rolling hill country with narrow verdant valleys snaking thier way between hills and ridges. The villages were few and far between. Not one village had sort of product for sale, so no supplies gathered on this first leg. Supper that night was spartan and simple. 1 cup of very sweet tea, and several cookies along with a handfull of raisins. Please be sure to download this days recipe at the end of the post.


It’s about 2pm, and I am climbing het another hillon my way, I feel like I am threading a needle so too speak as I make my way one tiny backroad after another. There is a bar slash cafe type store and out front it has a cooler full of ice teas. Being that the bike is reading about 90, I think a tea would be pretty good right now…….HELLO…….and I turn to see a fellow all clad in pure racing attire for a cyclist. Hello, I said back and the conversation thus began. He, being Nenad, a Serbian businessman who speaks very good english. We visit for half an hour and I begin to excuse myself so I can get into Belgrade before dark. Well, that will not take long if you allow me to lead you he suggests. And so the journey begins, he on his sub 12 pound total carbon fiber racing frame. And I, on what he affectionaly called a tractor, even suggested I paint it green and put a John Deere label on the head tube. There are a lot of hills and grades on the way and he would have to wait at the top of almost all of them for me, but wait he did. Right into the city we went, me following him, as he scurried between cars and rode out into intersections at red lights…… things I would never do, but I had to keep up. By 4pm, I was in front of the huge apartment that I had rented rather than get a hotel room which was more than double the price. $34.00 us dollars a night, it was great and very clean right on the primary oldtown street. Can’t get better than that.


Go, have a shower because you need one, said my guide. How about 8pm, I will come back and pick you up for supper, he asks. Fine with me, but only if you PAY…….oops, sorry, only if you allow me to buy. Sorry he says, but in Serbia, when you are a guest, we treat you to the very best of everything and thats the only way it can be. So, I asked him if he preffered to dine alone or with company……..too which he emphatically stated be would prefer to dine with company. Good I said, that is my preferance as well. So, if you want to dine with me……I BUY……. and you get to pick the restaurant. Which will it be, with me, or by yourself? Okay, fine, we will do it as you wish. But tomorrow you have too allow me to give you a cycling tour of Belgrade.

We dined at a very small Serbian restaurant, known for its excellent Serbian pasta dishes. We had a huge salad, fresh made bread cooked in a stone oven on ashes……wow, I am bread lover and this was good. The main course was lamb and proscuitto baked with home made pasta bows and a heavy mushroom sauce, then topped with something called kymika (think a sharpish cheese ). I love Serbia, great people,beautiful scenery, interesting city and culture……but what I love the most……these folks are carvivores. By golly, when they serve you meat, they serve you meat, no messing around. Didn’t have to hunt around for the meat in this great meal. The next day, we took off on the bikes and began a 30 mile trip seeing the sights of Belgrade. Yes, to answer that lingering question that maybe all of us from the west have……there are still bullet holes, and torn apart buildings from both rocket and mortar fire. For the most part, these fragments of war evidence have been left as a reminder to all, that this is not what they want to return too. I found the city, Belgrade to be vibrant and intersting, even more so than Bucharest for instance. Would I come back to Belgrade and greater Serbia, in a heartbeat and bring my sweetie with me without any worry or concern. And not to beat the drum too loud, but the country of Serbia has a very interesting and enticing business inducements in place that should make any Corporation give them a seriuos second look. That afternoon was spent dining on the best lamb I have ever had, and yes, even you Pine would have enjoyed this lamb. Its cooked whole on a spit, slow cooked and basted for 8 hours. At this restaurant you buy it by half kilo per person or more……none of this 6oz servings of red meat crap. Here if you can’t eat 1/2 kilo, then go put your man pants on and come back. We had a full kilo order and non left over. All good things do come to an end, and my host had to leave. We said our goodbyes and went our own ways. But, I know we will talk and see each other again somewhere, sometime.

Up the next morning and headed out of Belgrade. Not one problem getting out with the gps folks. I took the smallest back roads that I could find. Put in an admirable day for an old fart. About 115 miles at 85 degrees, pretty nice riding weather. Mostly flat or gentle rolling coutryside. I was wanting to gain some distance and time, because everyone warns me that I will be punished when I get to Bosnia. Bosnia is surely living up to that expectation in spades.

Crossed the border into Bosnia, and interestingly, you cant get gps service here if you are from USA. So, I spent about 3 hours hunting for a road map,,,,,hard to do if you dont speak the language. Back a few months, we met a great couple from Amsterdam ( we met in Bayan Olgii at the Blue Wolf yurts, and you guys drove the white Land Rover ) who really swore by “open street maps”, they felt it was the best thing going. I on the other hand have a tough time with it…….so my Amsterdam friends if you read this……… contact me by email and maybe you can aid me in better understanding and using the program. Now I am navigating thru Bosnia by paper map and cyrillic……pray for me as I will be lucky to make it out the other side. I am cycling thru, over and around all that God created during that amazing first week of life on this earth. And in case you are wondering, NO, he didn’t put an outpost on Mars just incase this one didn’t work out, contrary to what the whiz kids on Discovery channel have come up with as an excuse for life here. As gorgeous as the mountains, roads, lakes, rivers and streams have been, they pale in comparison to that which was made good in God’s eyes on the 6th day of creation, thanks big Rob for making me aware of that very important fact. I may have been a “pantheist” forever had you not pointed that out. Its up to you to reread the creation story if you want to know what he made the 6th day. Hey, uncle Bill, start with looking in the first book, Genesis.

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