8/29 Vukovar, Croatia  We slowly approach on the Danube during interesting breakfast with Karl and Sus. and Jeff.  Karl was born in Prague, family escaped after occupation by Soviets in ’68.  Was there in ’71 and the other night I asked whether we might talk about that period; would he share some info?  He brought it up this morning and I did ask a few questions.  To my surprise, he began with hesitancy, then became very forthcoming, voluble and a bit emotional.  Heard much more than I asked about and we were moved by the authenticity and candor of frightening duress beginning when he was 13.  Became  a Canadian citizen, currently living in Switzerland; plan to ‘go home’ to Canada not Prague.  There followed a lecture on ‘the Roma’ by Vlad, our T.D. who is Romanian.  Much info:  orig. n. India; til mid 19c. thought to be from Egypt hence ‘Gypsy;’ genetics tells of 3 gps; not all Christian; in eastern Europe considered slaves til early 20c.; targeted by Nazi, landless; root language is Hindi but locality influences vernaculars; BridePrice; Purity Laws: body below waist impure, launder those clothes separately; death houses impure for 1 month; animals; non-Gypsy called ‘Gadja;’ language doesn’t have a future tense; avoid education beyond 3rd or 4th grade; very early marriages.  While prolific, general eastern bloc population has a negative birthrate.  Not all are thieves.  GW feeling better and next goes to folkloric band concert.  Jeez.   After lunch we trot to bus (w. chair) and begin area tour.  No city here big enough itself.  Some countries recover faster than others following religious/political wars.  Here in one of the others, one’s feelings are well mixed:  sad, deeply, re: the abandoned ruins, lack of completed (started?) reconstruction, the amount of rubble left in what is a badly scarred collection of houses/modest public buildings.  Monotony of same in this and next town begins to numb;  miles of rubble interrupted by occasional neat/tidy/colorfully painted bungalows, friendliness of what seems to be a hearty people increases the pathos.  Ex:  GW wants Croatian $$ for his foreign currency collection.  No exchanges here.  We learn this when told souvenirs may be bought with dollars or plastic only by guide.  GW explains his frustration; she asks how much he wants to exchange.  $5.  She opens her own wallet and pulls out bills that exceed the rate and when we protest, she says “I’m happy to do it.”  This wasn’t a knee-jerk, or I-learned-it-in-guide-school response.  She was proud and pleased to do it. Genuine.  Of course it’s good biz, but she didn’t have to do it….  And after our souvenir shop stop — hosted by a marvelous hefty character boasting of their wines (oy), — she pointed out a series of what appeared to be tombstones, on an incline….flat to upright….which is in fact cement wall sections from bombed out houses, arranged to signify Serbia’s recovering and future.  I took a photo of it…and will carry its image in my head for a long long time…  Dinner with a new couple from Las Vegas…then Katey and Jeff joined us. Nicer. Lots of yak, and wine, and then we show Casey Julie Bowen. No one except Jeff agrees she looks similar.  Okay.  GW is off to bed, me to wine bar for chat with Verna (!) and Patty/Casey/Red…later on roofdeck..

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