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SWMBO tells a funny story.

Our 8 month journey is coming to an end.  We started out as backpackers but are ending as pack mules.  The amount of stuff we have accumulated is shocking and includes two bicycles, a vintage trouser press, ceramic dishes, and homemade bows and arrows among many, many, many other things.  How we’re going to get this stuff home would be a concern for most people but since we’re taking a cheap Ryanair flight to Ireland in two days, it’s been the least of our worries.

Beinhaus, Hallstatt (Austria)

Beinhaus, Hallstatt (Austria)

No, what we needed to figure out was where the hell to leave tons and tons of luggage for 10 days.  For free.  Because on Ryanair you are only allowed one carry-on per person.  Of course, the couchsurfing community opened its (basement) doors.  Storagesurfer didn’t have room to host us since he already had a full house but he was more than happy to host our gear.  He also generously offered to host us all upon our return from Ireland which was very convenient since we would have to come back to his place to get our stuff anyways.

In the Balkans, death is announced via a notice board.  This one is outside the grocery store in Niš.

In the Balkans, death is announced via a notice board. This one is outside the grocery store in Niš.

He sent us his address (16 rue Je Ne Sais Quoi) and we emailed him our time of arrival.  We then drove 4 hours from Lorraine, France.    When we arrived, we discovered that 18-22 rue Je Ne Sais Quoi were demolished!  In the middle of the rubble we found a sales office for the shiny new condos that are going to be built there.  Number 16 was still standing but was slated for demolition and clearly hadn’t been lived in for a long time.  The windows were cemented shut and there was ivy completely covering the front door.  No one seemed to know anything about Storagesurfer.  Looking across the street and down a bit, we saw a high rise that was partially destroyed.  It looked like we had come to Dresden circa 1948.  Or Niš 2014.

A rare balcony with a railing

Niš 2104

Cemetery, Niš

Cemetery, Niš

I started to wonder if we were the victims of a nasty joke.  That was worrisome because then we would have no place to leave our decadent first world junk new treasures.  Fahbio and I went into the bar across the street and showed the bartender the address.  I asked her if she could call the phone number I had been given to find out what was up?  She asked me if the Roma had given me the number.  In confusion I said, “No.  I mean I don’t think so.  Why?”  She told me that there was a group of Roma living in Number 16.  “Les squatteurs,” she said.

Steckerlfisch remains

Steckerlfisch remains, Upper Austria

Holy Toledo!  I had done it yet again.  I had somehow accidentally arranged to leave all my gear with a group of Gypsy squatters for 10 days and then we were all going to have to sleep in a condemned, abandoned house for a night.

Niš house, 2014

Niš house, 2014

The bartender dialed the number and conversed with le squatteur.  It turned out that he lived at 116 rue Je Ne Sais Quoi.  We raced over there as quick as we could and met a wonderful young man who had just returned from 4 years (!!!) of travel.  He was kind as could be and absolutely mortified that he had emailed me the wrong address.  Then he told me that only three weeks ago, a freak gas explosion had destroyed the (Dresden) high rise.

Pumpkins and artichokes, Upper Austria

Pumpkins and artichokes, Upper Austria

We unloaded our gear, bid Storagesurfer adieu and headed 1 hour north to find the couch that had accepted us for two nights.  We arrived at 7:30 pm, tired and hungry and were met with tartiflette, a big salad and warm smiles.

what came next

A sneak peak at what came next.