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Penryn pensioner explorer returns home after three month adventure
2:00pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
Intrepid pensioner explorer Tony Clarke is back home in Penryn at the end of a three month adventure which saw him travel through several countries, including Slovakia, Estonia and Finland.
While on his travels the 67-year-old took time out to provide Packet readers with updates on his experiences which unfortunately ended on a bit of a sour note.
He has entitled his final instalment “Bumpy Road to Bosnia (and home).”
“Bosnia was definitely going to be trouble. During my years of travelling, I have crossed hundreds of borders, and I can tell immediately from the looks and stance of the officers as I approach what sort of reception I am going to have: friendly or bitter, indifferent, orderly. Experience has made me cynical. Bosnia was definitely going to be trouble. And expensive.
“When it comes to extortion, Bosnia is up there in the top ranks. With such regimes, corruption is initiated at the top and flows down to the lowest ranks via the police, army, to the petty officials – ill-trained for their positions, they are well trained as browbeaters and intimidators.
“It began before I had reached the emigration window. I was singled out, pulled from the queue, their next victim. The officers started their well-rehearsed pantomime. “Passport. Car papers. Green paper.”
“Green paper? Does anyone know what a green paper is? I still don’t but it cost me 30 Euros and it was white. As soon as the money was handed over all interest in me dissipated like a morning mist, with the barked|instruction: ‘Car out of the country 48 hours.’ “My muttered ‘so your motherland’s not going down the tourist route then?’ was lost on them – they had already moved on to the next victim caught in the net – his loud Germanic protestations showed he was not handing over his 30 Euros without an argument. But if I thought that was the end of the extortion I would encounter in Bosnia, I was seriously mistaken.
“Between Zvornik in northern Bosnia, and Dubrovnik down south in Croatia, there lie ten towns and a few small villages. As if by telepathy (or perhaps modern technology), I was met by a police officer who flagged me down and accused me of speeding. Each time I had to pay a fine of 20 Euros – over 200 Euros in total – and of course no receipt was provided. In only two of these ambushes was there a speed camera.
“The reason for visiting Bosnia, which formed part of the old Yugoslavia, was to see if the restoration had started – not only of the buildings, but of the communities – after such a bitter conflict. The material damage was clear to see, with roofs and walls patched up, the bare amount of work undertaken, no money to complete it.
“Any Overlander will see the despair and hurt wrought by civil and political unrest, but the abiding impression will be that almost everywhere people are friendly, they are willing to help, ready to laugh, share food and a little part of their lives.
“This trip was planned to cover 6,000 miles – the milometer now shows 8,760 miles. In car years my Land Rover is older than me. The old girl is showing her age, she needs a little TLC - oil and noise are leaking and ringing from her axles and boxes.
“Now back in Penryn, I’m fixing her up with the help of a friend, and next year she’ll be ready to run away with me again. So, where to next time?
“Africa seems to be calling again - a little trip around its coast is just over 35,000 miles. Now, how many borders, and how many visas will that be…?”
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