Considerable lie in, our collective tiredness having grown over the last few days. A great breakfast with a tasty yoghurt drink that I've not had before. From way back when I first brought Apricot Jam Mihailo had told me his Aunt makes the best - I was not disappointed!! Mihailos cousin Stevan plays my guitar, and very well too, he's in a death metal band and plays with a precision I am yet to find. I chat with Mihailo's sister Jelena, she's big into Reggae so I play her some of the stuff on my ipod, I learn of a good local Reggae band that are playing at the Belgrade beer festival and hope I get the chance to see them.
Mihailo's uncle Pera drives four of us to a local lake. We drink beer and sit on a bench at the waters edge. Milica and Ninoslav are recently married and leave Serbia in the next few days for a new life in New York. Ninoslavs father Milan and Pera paddle the lake in an old wooden dingy. The water supply was damned some years back to create was for the local agriculture, since then the lake has been stocked with many fish. By some miracle Pera manages to net 20kilos of Zander. The fish is ill and so cannot be returned to the lake, but not so ill that it can't be eaten. Normally a rule dictates that fish over 5 kilos must be returned, and so the lake contains some very big fish. A group of local fishermen/enthusiasts work to continually improve the area - maintain the lake, plant tree's etc. All done for free simply because it's a place they like to spend time. They are also happy for people to camp for free! Not the kind of place one could find without guidance from locals.
The four of us take to the boat for a while. It's very tranquil and they are great company. They all speak very good English. I feel ashamed that I may never have to experience the difficulties of learning another language simply due to the luck/misfortune of being born in an English speaking country. Interestingly on occasion their grammar surpasses my own. When asked the infinitive of "can" I frustratingly drew a blank. I don't know if I was too busy picking my nose/drooling over girls but I don't recall a single lesson on grammer while at school.
Back in the car we call in to Ninoslav's parents house, and I meet his mother Branka. We snap some pictures of the "catch of the day". Milan gets to work prepared the Zander while a feast appears before my eyes - homemade spicy sausage being one of the highlights, and more home grown tomatoes. Milian gives me some Rakia made from Apricots, it's very fragrant, and my favourite so far. I then take a tour of the allotment out back, plum trees, tomatoe plants, onions, cabbage, almond tree....the list goes on. It's a communal allotment that produces lots of high quality very natural goods. The more I see of Serbia the more I like!!
Back at the house we drink coffee and chill while we await dinner - I haven't had the chance to get hungry since arriving! The Zander is expertly prepared by Dragica and tastes excellent, it's the first fresh water predatory fish I've tried and I guess is something close to Bass. In the evening Jelena, Stevan and Mihailo take me on a tour of the town. The bars and cafes are full, even on week nights. I feel they have a better work/life balance than back home, even if it leans a little too far in the other direction - I think I'm inclined to such a lifestyle myself...