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What for, KFOR – We continue through Kosovo

Sep 26, 2005

Anti-Serbian sentiments are not too hard to come by. Blatant lies about where to find Serbian monasteries, and taxis that refuse to bring you anywhere in the vicinity. We visited two significant monasteries during the course of the day. Gracanica and Peja.

Both monasteries had a significant KFOR presence. The Swedes at the first (Gracanica) seemed relatively relaxed, reading to pass the hours and barely acknowledging us as we passed their checkpoints.

Gracanica monastery

Perhaps a peacekeeper from times past

Modern equivalents

At the second, Peja, the Italians seemed to take their jobs a lot more seriously. Maybe because the second one is actually inside a Serbian enclave. Although occasionally referred to as a ghetto, this enclave has none of the negative conotations of ghetto, being in the countryside. Due to the negative attitudes we had encountered, and the warning that taxis would refuse to take us, we walked from town. Around one bend in the road, we encountered a bunker, rows of razor wire, and heavily armed soldiers. Our passports were examined, our presence was radioed through, and permission to enter was granted. Our passports were held until we had left the zone. Inside, initially it felt like some sort of boot camp. Soldiers jogging in tee shirts, others erecting buildings and fences, tanks and other heavy vehicles lined up along the outside of the monastery wall. And just by monastery entrance, yet another armed checkpoint and bunker. Once inside those walls, the tranquility and contrast was amazing. Old ladies tended immaculately beautiful garden beds. And the triple church, centuries old, with on-going restoration and preservation works, held some beautiful paintings.

Comedy relief was provided by one soldier we spotted, using the mirror from his jeep, and oblivious to all those around, who spent at least a minute making slight adjustments to his beret until it sat just right. Of course he was Italian.

And meanwhile, can anyone explain this:

Strange sign

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One Response to “What for, KFOR – We continue through Kosovo”

  1. Edward Says:

    Cats, dogs, penguins, elephants, snakes, birds, horses and many other animals appeared on special road signs throughout Kosovo in 1999. They match operational maps maps produced by NATO for KFOR with matching images for the right road. Not everyone reads and speaks English but most of us can tell a dog from a cat.

    FYI: Not sure I agree with your identification of enclaves. Gracanica is an enclave with the monastery in the middle, therefore you are already well inside the protected area before you reach it. Pec, or Peja, monastery is a protected site on the edge of the town in which there are no longer any Serbs or fondness of them.

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