Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Europe adventure; arrested in Croatia

In 1995 I was traveling Europe by train with my Buddy whom I will call Casey when he came up with his usual bright Idea's, We were sitting in a Cafe in Roma eating lunch when Cacey piped up in his dopey voice "ya know my family is from hungry, lets take the train up there for the day and we can come back and meet the girls and go to Paris for Christmas" so yea uhm that's about what I thought, what the hell?
We were traveling with two girls from Canada and wanted to spend Christmas with us in Paris, he wanted to ditch them and just show up the day we were to leave (would be two days later) on a train and expect them to be ok with it. It seemed ok, after all they were currently out shopping on there own so what did thy care?
So in my usual adventure not thinking whatsoever mode I decide I'M good with his half assed plan and off we went.

We caught the train and headed north, what we did not realize is this train went where we did not have visa's nor tickets to go, first stop, Slovania. There the predictable happened, the train conductor who spoke little to no english promptly cleaned out our wallets for a "Visa" that didn't exist and fresh tickets, always a good time. With a little grumbling from our previous ticket raping our next stop would be Croatia.
We had thought our previous robbery was bad, we had no Idea what traveling through this war torn country would bring.

I do not remember the time, I think its was morning, when we arrived in Zangreb. The head guard/police/soldier whatever he was, maybe all three came up to us in our car, he was checking papers.
Now at this time in southern Europe English was a rare thing and those who spoke it were generally very poor in their speech, this guy spoke perfect english and said "tickets, passport visa" behind him were a half dozen armed men. I would reply"here are our tickets, but we do not have visa's, how much will those be?" as I reached behind my back for my wallet, before I could have it drawn he snapped his fingers and a half dozen guards filled the train and we found ourselves staring down the .30 caliber bore of Ak-47s. Now I have been in quit a few scrapes, shot at, in knife fights, and looked down the barrel of other firearms before, but this time it was different, staring down those cold barrels pointed at your skull with soldiers who do not want to be there, think you are probably satan and really dont care one way or another cause a bullet to your brain lets them go back to their card game, life changes, and wow did it. All I could do was think that hell, I guess if I know its imminent I will fight, but right now, I knew I was fast, but I was not fast enough to beat a bullet. What to do? not much we could do but comply, we kneeled like we were told while they searched us and took our passport, the one thing I didnt want to lose damn it, and I tried to plead but the cold barrel of an AK with a barrel twist of 1.7 convinced me to shut my yap and let them take it. Now your thoughts are what next, do they do you on the train or outside where not mess for cleanup? a buttstock to the shoulder and a little firearms push suggests the bullet to the cranium comes outside. For some reason I really dont remember leaving the train,  I only next remember walking and hoping the asshole behind me doesnt have his finger on the trigger and slip in the knee deep snow. Casey was whispering to me "they cant do this" curt "just shut up" he persisted "but, but we are Americans"  what the hell does he not get, we are in a third world country in the middle of civil unrest and nobody knows we are supposed to be there. And he keeps running his mouth "well you know some serbian talk to them" I have two problems with this, one, my serbian consists of primarily pointing out kitchen  utensils and silly greetings, two if they find out I'm half serb we will have ventilated craniums for sure and I say as much, just keep quiet, oh hell no, he starts rambling on about suing them, talk about idiocy, "Dude, you need to just shut  up, nobody knows we are here and they dont give a ratts ass who your atty is, you keep it up and we are face down game over" and it sinks in, his shoulders drop and he looks around helpless. We continue our walk and for me, the odd thing in my mind was why the hell was I wearing slacks when its subzero and snow? Damn my legs were cold and even though we were walking, I was starting to shake, probably more adrenaline leaving than cold, but I was shaking somewhat, I just didnt want to be mistook for fear. They led us into the police station/guard house, took what bags we had carried and the golden haired English speaking guard made it clear for us to stand in the hallway, so there we stood right outside the guard quarters while they watched basketball and we took in our surroundings. I could not get over how much it reminded me of firefox, the single 100 watt bulb in a old tin frame shining its light from a 10 foot ceiling and just as its light dimmed, the next light picked up. There was another man with us, I guess Canadian because he spoke perfect English but had a brown passport, he looked like an ass so I didnt hav much to say to him, hell, I didnt have much to say at all now. At this point someone mentioned its a good time to run, IM like where to? tracks in the snow anyone? "lets just wait and see what happens" enjoying the poorly heated building sounded better to me than running through a frozen warzone not knowing where the hell we were going and being hunted all the way, its not a good feeling, ya gotta trust me on that one. So we stood, just kind of looking around, well cept for the Kanuk, who was trying to watch the basketball game th guards had on, they saw him, said something, and closed the door a bit, he pushed it open with his foot gently, watched a couple mintutes, the same guard saw said something and me and curt gave the point to him, and th door closed tightly, the stooopid kanuk said something and reached for the door. And I had enough soon as his hand touched the knob I spoke "if you turn that knob I will crush your throat and you will be dead before you hit the ground" I said clearly. He hesitated and gave me a half cooked defiant grin thinking about how funny it would be, but I have been told when IM pissed I have satan's eyes, and he saw it, and realized I was not joking, his fingers trailed from the steel knob and he stood back against the wall with his lower lip sticking out like a child. SO there we stood, I lost track of time, our legs ached, we half sat with our backs against the wall holding us up. Finally the head guard came back with our passports he said with such little accent "here are your visa's, they say you are good for three days in my country, that is not true, the next train leaves in five minutes I suggest you are on it. So that was that, the guards grabbed their weapons and kicked out luggage to us, we tucked out passports in our pockets grabbed our bags and headed outside following the guard. The door opened and the frozen Balkin air nipped at our faces, the train was already moving, we looked at the head guard who merely nodded his head in the direction of the train, behind us the guards lined up, Kalashnikovs at high ready with the look in their eyes that they would just assume be back inside telling jokes as wasting their time watching us. And then we started running, snow grabbing at our legs as our strides took us to the train, the kanuk tossed his luggage up first with himself close behind, the wheels of the train were churning up powder and the swirling wind made my pant legs move in what seemed odd directions, my mind briefly thought of slipping which ment the train got us, or the guards got some target practice, not an option, curt grabbed th kanuks hand and was pulled up, then just me, I lunged as their hands pulled me aboard the train which slowly increased its speed, and there Me and curt sat, looking back as the guards lowered their weapons and slipped back to the warmth of their quarters, Casey spoke first "I cant fucking believe this just happened, this cant happen, it only happens in movies" I really couldn't argue, but it was over for now, the train chugged through the balkin wilderness with pine tree's hefting their burden of snow taking us to Casey's homeland and our hope that this would be the last time we knelt to anyone.

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