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.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hi Folks

Well, Aaron and I are recovering from yet another ‘bug’. I do hope we can stay healthy for the rest of our time here.

Our priest here tells me I need to drink Rakija every day, and I’d be healthier. Hmm. That’s a tough choice!

Well, it would seem that we’re learning just enough Serbian at this point to get us into a bit of trouble! Well, actually it’s been a bit of fun…

A few days back, while dh was on one of his days off, he and I were wandering around downtown. We noticed a cluster of mostly elderly people on the sidewalk, around one of the vendors. This vendor was an elderly man with a couple of used pop bottles full of a curious looking substance. In his hand he was holding some sort of root that looked like a piece of a branch. After looking for a couple of minutes, I guessed that what he might be holding was a piece of horseradish. It WAS only a guess, as I wasn’t sure horseradish grew here. And why this man was attracting so much attention, I couldn’t guess.

Later, we passed by him and the crowd had diminished. I saw the sign on his little box-that-served-as-a-table. Of course I could read all of it, but I saw something about ‘rheuma’ and ‘cirkulacija’. Ah! Snake oil. I said to dh that he had concocted something from the horseradish for rheumatism. The man who was standing with the vendor heard us speaking English and immediately started rubbing his elbow and saying ‘very good’! When he heard me say ‘horseradish’ he started nodding emphatically.

Dh tried talking with the vendor who asked, in German, if dh spoke German. The answer was ‘no’. Then, dh asked the vendor if he spoke French. The vendor considered this for a moment and answered ‘nema’. We chuckled together, then dh and I went on our way.

The next day, we found ourselves downtown again, and there was the vendor again, with more bottles of concoction and a much shorter piece of root. He remembered dh, who walked up to the vendor and put down a 2 KM coin. The man starts gesticulating dramatically and I got the impression he was showing how insulted he was. After all, I gathered, these bottles were worth 10 KM!

Dh didn’t want the concoction. He wanted a piece of the root. Too late. The sales pitch was launched. Before he knew it the man had scraped some of the white root off, and with the flat of the knife scraped it onto dh’s forearm.

Quite the crowd gathered. Eventually, dh made motion to just walk away, at which point the vendor’s friend motioned toward the forgotten coin. The vendor cut off a chunk of the root and wrapped it in newsprint.

Sometime later, dh, wiped the white substance off of his skin. The skin was now quite red. It stayed red for another day and a half! Definitely stimulates circulation.


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