I know it's rather undignified to bitch whilst on holiday, to be hundreds of miles from my desk and work and bloody customers without a care in the world, but a couple of nights ago, I fell into a funk. Martin fell into his the following night.
Living out of a rucksack, waking up early and being constantly on the move, and drinking large amounts of 'British-Personalityjuice' every single night had taken it's toll. I had become bored, rather upset and disillusioned with the world, and somewhat unhappy with my entire existence yet a-fuckin'-gain.
It had been our last night in Sarajevo. I had decided to forgo the smart shirt and jacket look I'd adopted the previous night (women hadn't noticed anyway), for a simple black number that had been rather restrictive around my fat chest. It was odd - as it often is in those places - to be making merry in a former warzone; Sarajevo had, after all, been bombed to smithereens from the surrounding hills it's nestled within for four years, its citizens ducking from sniper fire and assault weaponry at exactly the same time I'd been having the greatest time of my life at University.
The background to my funk had been simple; joining Martin and me was that miserable git, tagging along uninvited. I'd see him now and again as we passed shop windows and caught his reflection. Whenever Martin took my picture and showed me the digital results, there he was, sunburned and grinning with his chin-gut swaying in the breeze while his sweaty forehead glistened like a honeyglazed ham.
"Delete it," I'd say after being shown the latest photo. I've since advanced to having my picture taken and watching Martin collapse into paroxysms of laughter - I now tell him to delete it without bothering to review the abominable result.
As we'd waited for our Sarajevo-bound train at Zagreb, we noticed two swaggering dicking machines. We recognised them instantly as The Enemy, a pair of young, slim Twenty-somethings, chock-full of confidence and semen. One wore his hair in dreads, the other kept his laid-back and floppy. Both wore t-shirts and shorts that weren't saturated with sweat, and looked every inch the cliched traveler. We'd clocked each other as we stood at the station, and kept our distance. After all, when backpacking, groups of men are like packs of wolves; a threat to one another as they compete for the same hunting ground, that small yet fertile land of lips and breasts and smiles that, if nurtured properly, will let you fuck it.
And thus, my funk grew. Martin and I visited the Sarajevo photo museum (sweating the back of my clothes into a stained Turin Shirt as we walked there in the midday sun), and surveyed their harrowing exhibition that shamed me with my lack of Balkan War knowledge. We'd gone back to our hotel and freshened up for yet another night on the town. We'd eaten at a restaurant where I'd had to eat profile in front of four French women - not my best angle, all chins and nose and solid, rectangular body - and winced as I glanced at them only to note their absolute refusal to look even vaguely in my direction in case they melted like that guy at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
"I'm going on a diet when I get home," I thought as we made our way to the bar we'd end up in every night. The two travelers were in there chatting to a random woman. The night before, they'd sat with three Polish girls and left, giggling, en masse, a fivesome of travelling strangers, no doubt minutes from getting naked and penetrating one another. It was at that point that I got more depressed, guessing that us Brits tend to holiday in bars and get hammered, hoping that something sexual might happen, whereas the French, as these two lads were, cut straight to the chase.
I'd complained to Martin later that night that I was almost certainly never going to have sex again, that I had no right being in bars in the first place and besides, at 35, it was verging on sad and pathetic. My only options in life, I'd concluded, were suicide, or rape.
So imagine my joy when, upon yelling out the aforementioned ferociously tongue-in-cheek comment as we'd stood up to leave, I'd discovered sitting opposite us two English-speaking, if not English, girls. (For the record, they were with men. And for the record #2, I don't think they'd want to meet tubby, pink men who mull over self-harm or violent sexual assault loud and in public.)
I could go on, but I won't. We're now currently in Mostar, a visually beautiful if rather quiet hamlet in southern Bosnia. You may have heard of its bridge. It's seems almost solely populated, at least in its old town, by tourists. Of the locals who have to serve them and their constant cries of attention, all, barring our beautiful hostel owner, are surly and miserable.
And so we are leaving for Dubrovnik tomorrow. I'd stay in this hostel forever, if only to catch the life-affirming smile of the young lady here, but it'll only end in tears.
I'm about as appealing as AIDS on toast.