Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Sat December 26 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | December 26, 2015 3:00 AM ET

    Tramprennen Part 3: Suspense at a Strict Serbian Border

    Tramprennen Part 3: Suspense at a Strict Serbian Border

    PHOTO: While one of us spoke to drivers at gas stations, the other would hold a sign at oncoming traffic next to our bags so all bases were covered! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    Unlike our previous mornings, No Money, No Problem was at a faster pace than usual. Today we were racing from the-middle-of-nowhere in Hungary to Novi Sad, Serbia and at the end of this trek, Jonathan was reuniting with his girlfriend, so our pace quickened to top speeds.  The other teams laughed and wished me luck dealing with Jonathan’s hardheaded determination to make it to our destination nearly as fast as we could blink. Thankfully, luck was again on our side and we hitched rides quickly over longer distances.

    Crossing a small border into Serbia, however, our luck suddenly ran dry.

    The border patrol officer examined Jonathan and our driver’s passports and then looked at mine. “You can’t cross this border,” the patrol officer snapped as he handed back my Canadian passport. “You two can cross but she can’t” he said sharply and without care.

    The three of us looked at each other in confusion and disbelief.  You could have cut the tension in the car with a knife. “What do you mean we can’t cross?” asked our driver, who was en route to pick up her friend.  As it turned out, only Serbians and EU citizens were allowed to cross that particular border.  Although I had a German Resident Visa and a valid passport, under no circumstances was I allowed to cross that border. Instead, I would have to backtrack nearly two hours to the main border crossing.

    At that point we had two options: Either Jonathan and I would have to get out of the car at this small, no-traffic border crossing, which would guarantee that we would not make it to Novi Sad, potentially leaving me to deal with Jonathan’s impending meltdown, or our driver would take us nearly two hours out of the way to the other crossing, inconveniencing her even further.

    I held my breath in silence. The woman sighed and slowly turned the car around. “I can’t believe this — I had no idea they had such strict rules at this crossing and I’m already late to pick up my friend, but I don’t want to leave you two stranded” she said. We continued to sit in silence while she drove away from the crossing.  “I guess I’ll just have to call my friend and tell her I’ll be late… I can’t leave you here,” she said.

    And off we went!  She was driving us to the main crossing! Jonathan and I practically screamed in disbelief, thanking her profusely and dubbing her our auto-stop angel.

    PHOTO: Our first views as we ran to Liberty Square in Novi Sad.

    On top of going two hours out of her way, she even dropped us off around the corner from our meeting point at Liberty Square City Hall. We arrived in second place, but if you think we were disappointed, think again. We were happy to have made it there in the first place and ran in the sunset towards Liberty Square, laughing and grinning ear-to-ear.

    PHOTO: Jan, Hannah and I hang out at the monument with our signs as we wait for other teams to arrive.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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