I Lost Them All.

We were settling in nicely, getting to know the locals and the locals were definitely getting to know us! The people of Kosovo don’t travel much, or at all really. They have very heavy visa restrictions which makes it quite hard for them to leave the country.

In 2010, he travelled around South America with seven for his friends for around three months. He had been throwing comments out like “I cant wait to get dreadlocks” “I cant wait to grow them really long” before he left for the trip. I wasn’t the biggest fan of dreadlocks and I really wasn’t fond of the idea that he was going to get them. Upon arrival back to Sydney after his trip I was in shock… He. Had. Dreads! At first I hated everything about them, but over the years they started to grow on me, and now I cant imagine him without them, they are like is trademark, his statement. They are him.

This is why I say the locals were noticing us more than your average tourist, I don’t think many, if any of them have ever seen someone in real life with dreadlocks before. People would literally stop what they are doing and stare at us walking past, at first we felt really uncomfortable, but after being there for two months, we got quite used to it. It was like he was famous or something, people would come up and ask if they could touch them, he even got asked if someone could have a photo with him!! No word of a lie!

One day, being the organised clean freak that I am, decided to pull our bags apart and repack everything. It was at this stage that I started to hate living out of a suitcase. I mean, looking at the same old clothes day in and day out, knowing that I had a whole wardrobe of them back at home, and everything was always crunched or folded and shoved into a bag. I was going through all of our things and making sure that after five months of travelling we still had everything! I pulled out all of my memory cards and started going through all of our photos from earlier in the trip. As I started to get to the last couple, I started to panic as I wasn’t able to find the memory cards that had all of my Croatia photos on it! I went through them all and couldn’t find ANY of them, none! I really started to panic and pulled out everything again. I was really upset and told him what has happened, he held my hand, told me not to worry and that we will find them! He got on the phone straight away and started calling the last couple of hostels that we had stayed at as I wasn’t sure when the last time I had them was. I pulled the whole hostel apart and and asked everyone in there to look through their things.

After an hour of searching, and I dont know how many tears later they never turned up. I couldn’t believe it. Over 2,000 photos gone! It wasn’t that I lost the memory cards, this was the first time I had met my family from Croatia, the places and people held a special place in my heart and now all I had were the memories in my head. He pulled me close and have me a massive hug and whispered “It’s ok, its just means we will have to go back and do it all again” as funny as it sounds, it kinda made me feel a lot better. He knew how much those photos meant to me and he did everything he could to help me find them.

The next few weeks were full of lounging around, working hard, being a tourist and partying even harder. We were able to meet so many people who would come and go from the hostel, some would stay longer than others and some made more of an imprint. I got to know a really awesome girl whilst working, she was staying at the hostel for a couple of weeks before she found an apartment as she was studying in Kosovo. It was great to have a friend around when I was sick of living with so many men. We’d have sleep overs at her apartment and when she would travel for her studies I would stay at her place and catch up on me time. I love my own company, so after spending literally every day and night with 15 other people every single day, this alone time was like a dream.

Since one of us always had to be at the hostel after midnight, he was always happy to stay back and allow me to stay at the apartment. He’d come and visit and cook some amazing home cooked meals, leave me with some chocolate, wine and a kiss goodnight and be on his way. As funny as it sounds, I always felt homesick for him when he left, considering we pretty much lived in each others pockets spending one night apart felt like a lifetime.

Before I left for Europe, I told my parents that I was coming back with a tattoo and that was a matter of fact! I had no idea what it would be, but I knew I was getting one. One of the hostel owners knew a really good tattoo artist and offered to introduce us. With only days to decide what I wanted, we were discussing one night what we’d get. We joked about getting each others names or initials tattooed somewhere on us, he wasn’t too sure about that one, although I would have done it in a heart beat! He said “what about the engraving that your grandfather did in Croatia?” “Done!” I said. Sitting in that chair whilst the tattoo artist was preparing was probably the longest five minutes of my life! I will never forget the sounds of that needle when his foot stepped onto that pedal nor will I forget the feeling of it penetrating into my skin.I was holding onto his hand so tight, his fingers started to go purple. After about 20 minutes I looked down and LOVED it. “Svatko je lopov tko ne radi posteno” my first tattoo and it meant more to me than anyone could ever imagine.

Coming to the end of two months, we knew he’d have to move on eventually, we had the most amazing time working in Kosovo, meeting new people, becoming life long friends with others, the parties, the lazy days the touristy days, It’s something that I never thought I’d do in a million years but something I am so glad I did and to do it with him was even more amazing!

We said our goodbyes and off we went…

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