Balkan Reflections

This blog has been set up to assist in communicating with friends and family while we are in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Location: Ontario, Canada

Striving to a better day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Good Afternoon.

We're all recovering from some nasty virus we came down with shortly after arriving. I'm still coughing furiously, but hope to be completely mended soon.

Medical care here is, apparently, quite good. Our soon-to-be Serbian tutor is actually waiting to become a doctor and has been telling dh about the system.

Thing is, if we get sick and need medical care, we also need an interpreter. Few people here speak English, and even those who do may not do it well enough to know the jargon related to a given situation. Fortunately, the young woman who is teaching us Serbian, is also quite willing to help us out with translation if needed.

To get medication, you just enter an Apoteka and ask for what you want...even items which are prescription only at home. I asked for pseudoephedrine. I nearly ended up with Ephedrine drops. When she was showing me the package for what I finally took home, she showed me the Cyrillic side, which means nothing to me at this point.

I am realising many things already. I have to trust those I rely on to do translation for me. I cannot tell if they're doing it correctly or not.

The first day we were in the apartment alone, as dh had gone back to work, I needed to walk into town.

Those who know me well know that I have a poor sense of direction at the best of times.

I had to rely on my 10 yo daughter to get us out and back. While actually making purchases, I had to assume that I was being charged the same price for an item that a local would be charged...and this is an assumption that is FREQUENTLY taken advantage of by vendors!

One day, I needed to buy a bottle of dish soap. I found what I thought was the correct item. My daughter looked at it and commented that it had a picture of a glass on it, so it must be right.

This little comment of hers resulted in what William Safire would (if I remember correctly) call a 'klong'. That is; a sudden rush of crud to the heart.

Several years ago, dh and I had a corner store in a poor neighbourhood in Ontario. There were many illiterate people in the neighbourhood and we sometimes muttered that they relied on the pictures on the packages to know what was inside...

Here I am, someone who takes certain pride in her ability with the language relying on the pictures to know what's in the package! This nearly resulted in my purchasing incontinence products instead of diapers for our baby!

I live in fear of getting lost. I am not sure I know my address, and most street signs are in Cyrillic, which mean nothing. Even at that, I'm not sure I'd know where they went! I think I need a card to carry: "If found wandering, please return to..."

That said, I am learning important words like "beer" and "flowers". I am quite impressed by the amount of the language dh has picked up since he's been here.

In talking with some other Canadians, it seems to be a phenomenon that when we find ourselves not being understood, we switch to French...this is quite funny, because most of us don't speak French at home at all...and locally, French is less understood than English is. I have a smattering of German, which if I could remember it in a timely fashion would be very helpful.

That's all for now. I'm still catching up on emails. God Bless


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