31.10.11

Get Back in your Car!


Well hello there Horgos border crossing!

Last week, we were expecting our first guest in Serbia! I thoroughly cleaned the apartment, planned out every day, and just couldn't wait to welcome my mom to our new world. A warm hug from home and momma's cooking were within reach, but I knew that we could not get to Budapest Airport without first paying a visit to Mr. Horgos. There are horror stories of 6 hour back-ups during the summer months at this border crossing, but I've been lucky to never idle for more than 30 minutes. 

That all changed on Saturday. 

On Saturday morning, Chris and I rolled up to Horgos and joined what seemed like a jumbled mess of vehicles. "Where should we go? Is this a line - or is it only for EU passport holders? Do you think that line is moving faster?" From what we could see, two narrow lanes eventually funneled into three or four rows (depending on how many border officials were working), but it was a fight to secure a spot in "line." Lines are a funny thing in Serbia, and I have not quite figured them out yet. When you are standing in any Serbian line, you must forget personal space and get as close to the person in front of you so as to avoid sneaky line-cutters. Any space in line will absolutely be filled, and if you protest a line-cutting-violation, you'll be met with a shocked look that seems to say, "Oh, where did you come from? I didn't even see you standing there." On Saturday, I realized that lines at the boarder crossing work the same way. 


The twist is that half of the drivers don't stay in their cars. We could not figure out what was going on! Every time the line inched forward, the walkers would run back to their cars, move up an inch or two, and then get out and walk around again! Did we miss the memo that it was social hour at Horgos? Did everyone know their border line neighbors? Were they hoping that if the border patrol saw them, perhaps another line would open up? Were they looking for the nearest bathroom? Maybe they were scouting out the best place to cut-line? Some drivers even turned off their engines, and physically pushed their cars forward to conserve gas and stay outside.  

The problem was that often people could not get back in their cars right when the line started moving, and you guessed it, sneaky line-cutters filled the void! They just slid right on in, and no one seemed to care! I almost went crazy! "Chris, did you see that guy?! No one is honking; no one is yelling!" Good thing my calm husband does a lot of the driving. I would have laid on the horn and made a scene. Of course that would not have helped anything, and I would just be the insensitive, impatient American. 


Maybe I have something to learn from these line shenanigans in Serbia. Patience, and tolerance for my fellow man is a place to start, and I am sure that there are other lessons there too. 

All I know is that it took us an hour to pass through Mr. Horgos. I determined that no passport stamp is worth holding your place in that line for 6 hours, so we'll have to figure out how to beat the system once summer rolls back around.