Friday, September 13, 2013

Traveling with kids--brat style

Life in the fish bowl that is Vicenza can be interesting, especially is you are not used to being in a such a small, tight knit community. I, for one, really enjoy it. I've always been a people person and a small community like Vicenza really allows me to make friends and get to know people here. Blogging in a small community like this one has developed a funny little circumstance: Delilah has become quite the little celebrity around these parts! It's really quite funny--literally every day while I'm on post or out and about, someone says hi, tells me they read the blog, and almost always make comment about how funny or cute Delilah is. And so by request, I've got two funny Delilah stories for you...one today and another one soon!

 (I've got to satisfy her fans, right) 

Story number one happened back in August when the Brats were traveling through Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. It was literally hot as FIRE that week and we were swaying through the sights in a part of the world I never thought I'd ever see, let alone get to vacation in...

Eastern Europe and the old Soviet block countries definitely appeal to me. They are always so clean, the people always speak English and are happy to share their country with us, and tourists are only just now starting to discover this magnificent part of the world. 

On the day in question, we had literally driven from the Northern tip of Croatia all the way to half way across the country. It was a scenic drive through the beautiful country side, but as we got close and close to the Eastern side of Croatia, we saw more and more evidence of the war.  We spent the day at the Plitvice Lakes National Park (which I'll tell you about soon) and although the temperature was over 100 degrees, we had a great day! When we were planning our trip to Croatia and the waterfalls at Plitvice, I realized that we would be only a couple of miles from Bosnia Hertzegovia.  I knew lots of people who went to Bosnia as a soldier during the war, but knew no one who had been there as a tourist.  I told Steve it was a must do--to be able to say that we had been to Bosnia, I country I totally remembered as being a war-torn nation during MY not-so-distant lifetime, was a must.

The trip from the waterfalls at Plitvice to Bosnia was breathtaking, to say the least.  As we got closer and closer to the border, the area around us became more and more rural.  At about 3/4 of mile before the actual border, the road turned into dirt and gravel.  I am not kidding.  Within sight of the checkpoint,  the road was paved again, but it was obvious that the paved section was new construction.  Keep in mind that most check points at border crossings that we've been through are non existent.  We simply drive from one country to the next, with less pomp and circumstance than we have when we drive from one state to the next in the US. Since Croatia became part of the EU back in June, Bosnia was our first "non EU country" to visit.

The checkpoint was super crowded.  There were lots and lots of cars and lots and lots of people who were out of their cars walking around.  I was very nervous.  Another odd thing that we noticed was that there were tons of DOGS laying in the street or walking around the check point.  It was a weird couple of hours--yes, it took us close to 2 hours to get completely through the checkpoint and into Bosnia.  The thing that I never really realized was a checkpoint between two countries is actually 2 checkpoints--one to get you OUT of the country you are leaving and then another to get you INTO the country you are visiting.

Keep in mind, it was super tense throughout this entire experience. When we finally made it to the first set of guards at the check point, they were ALL Business. They carefully checked both Steve's and my passport first, looking closely at us and comparing our faces to the photos in our passports, and then checking everything out in the computer system. 
Next, the guard wanted to do the same with each of our kids. There was no idle chitchat, and no talking whatsoever except to ask us security questions. It was tense. We were obviously driving our giant Suburban and the guard told us we would have to roll our back windows down so that he could look carefully at the kids. We rolled down Delilah's window and she immediately looked at the guard and with a huge smile on her face, she said, "Hi, my name is Farter Pooter Pants". And then she started to sing this little song that I sing to them to the beat of the graduation march and its only words are Farter Pooter Pants. Repeated Over and Over.

The guard was NOT amused. I still don't know how Steve and I didn't get arrested...


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