Archive for November, 2010

Three borders in one week

November 28, 2010

We crossed three different borders like there was nothing to it. Not even in our wildest dreams would we have dared to take the camera out of our bags at a border – after having been threatened with jail upon entering Croatia for the first time (see our blog entry on our trip to Croatia), had it not been for a very special customs officer. But let us start at the beginning.

In late October we learnt how olives are harvested and processed. We also learnt that 100 kg olives make around 15 litres of olive oil. In November, a completely different picture presented itself to us. On the road to Opuzen, we kept passing one mandarin orange stall after another reflecting the region’s fame for the juicy little fruit. We kept being offered lots of them even for free, and finally we had to ward off the vendors‘ kindness by all possible means lest we collapse under the weight of the heaps of fruit in our backpacks. In Opuzen, our kind hostess, Nena, explained to us that this area is especially suited for growing and cultivating mandarin oranges due to plenty of sweet water (see our video in German: mandarin harvest in Opuzen) and the favourable soil. That same evening, Nena’s son Josip took the day’s harvest by boat to the nearest collection point using one of a large number of water passages. When he got back, he arranged some accommodation for the following night, acted as our tour guide showing us around the historic village and – to top it all off – invited us for a drink. By then our lengthy walk that day had taken its toll and exhaustion gradually set in. Yet, appreciating our friend’s kindness we held on until midnight without falling off our chairs.

The following night we had prepared ourselves for an abode of the humbler sort. So we were amazed when we found ourselves in a top-notch B & B, and when our hosts Anci and Oliver took us into their home as their guests. When they even invited us to dinner, we declined since we could see they were exhausted from work. They had just returned from the mandarin harvest, and we didn’t want to trouble them. We were perfectly happy just having been offered a roof over our heads, since the village, though teeming with tourists in summer, appears quite deserted now with only about ten houses actually inhabited. So we kept declining their kindly meant invitation, but in vain. During our devotional time the following morning we marveled at Psalm 104 which seemed a perfect description of our hosts. From their living room there’s a view of their garden, the mountains and the sea. Anci loves fishing and generally being outdoors. So we read the following: “He (God) waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit (also mandarin oranges) of his work…. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number.” After praying for Anci and Oliver we were on our way again, inspired by our conversations with Anci and Oliver and strengthened by God’s Word. Our next stop was Bosnia Herzegovina. At the border we were welcomed into the country by a very kind young lady customs officer. On the very same day we crossed another border, again into Croatia. This time nobody even bothered to ask for our passports.

At the Dubrovnik youth hostel, we met a 61 year-old lady, who is on a pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem. The following day she joined us for a stretch of the way. On that day, we, including our travel companion, made the acquaintance of Vlaho, a very special customs officer. His friends Uwe and Edita Mueller from Split (see our video: Uwe and Edita Mueller) had told him about us, so we got a text message from him inviting us to stay at his parents’ house for the night. In the evening he shared his story with us: Five years ago he had had a dream in which Jesus appeared to him. After that Vlaho started reading the Bible. The message of Jesus completely transformed his life. Until then he used to be drunkard and a liar. Now he was a free man. His story reminded us of a ‘colleague‘ of Vlaho’s: the tax collector Zacchaeus in the Bible. Zacchaeus had only focused on things that mattered in this life. He only found the truly fulfilling, spiritual riches when he met Jesus (The Bible, The Gospel of Luke, chapter 19). Vlaho knew we would come by at the customs the following morning, so he suggested we could take a photo then. We couldn’t believe our ears… That is how it came about that, upon exiting Croatia, a Croatian customs officer took a photograph of Vlaho together with us right at the border. Who would have thought?! How more diametrically opposed can experiences in one and the same country get?

We’re in Montenegro now. These past few days there have been several thunderstorms and lots of rain. We are grateful we always found some form of shelter or a room in time whenever we needed it. We will soon reach Albania. Thank you for your prayers.

Best regards from Montenegro

Hanspeter & Annemarie

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Michael and Brigitte had sailed around the world

November 21, 2010

November 11, 2010

„No, it’s jugo, not bura!” we kept hearing these past two days. This time it was the warm desert wind, also known by the term ‚sirocco‘, which seemed to be set on thwarting our plans. In Sucuraj, when we tried to buy our ferry tickets for Drvenik, the lady at the desk asked us to chance it again 15 minutes later, explaining: „We’re not sure when or if the ferry leaves today. Maybe just a little later than scheduled, or even as late as tomorrow. Who knows?! Currently the winds are just too strong, and wave conditions are difficult.“ Despite this, the ferry departed almost on schedule, so we soon found ourselves aboard the ship that soon rode the crashing waves. The stretch of our hike on the Croatian island of Hvar that lay behind us had been nothing short of amazing. As we were passing through Northern Croatia, someone we met along the way had suggested we might want to stay away from the coastal route. “It’s winter there throughout the year, except for two months.“ After others had given us the same advice and had raved about walking on the islands – far more scenic and less windy – we transferred to Senj on the island of Pag. And we haven’t looked back since.

When we arrived on the island, we decided to take up a new habit of praying for people in our acquaintance in alphabetical order. It was interesting to find the letter ‘A’ made of sponge rubber by the roadside on the day we started praying this way. Meanwhile we’ve arrived at T. On ‚P-Day‘, we met someone called Petra who came to our rescue when we were in need. We were looking for a place to stay overnight, when we came upon a group of men sitting in front of a shop. Even though everyone of them rented out rooms for tourists over the summer, no one seemed to be willing to offer us accommodation now. Petra, a shop assistant in the store behind them, had lived in Switzerland for three years during the war, offered to put us up for the night. Since her shift hadn’t finished, we told her we’d set off to her place (in a village about 5 kilometers away) on foot in order to get there when she got home from work. By the time we were on our way, darkness had fallen, so we were grateful for our flashlights. We were deeply thankful for Petra’s kindness, and we’ve added her to our prayer list on P-days.

Both on the coastal stretch and on the islands we were met with kindness and helpfulness in many places. Some of these wonderful people can be seen on our website. (To activate slide show, click on ‚options‘.) We will never forget Josip and Matilda’s generosity: they let us stay under their roof for free.

In Primosten we asked at about 10 places for accommodation, before we found somewhere to lay our heads. “We only rent out in summer”, they all told us. In Sibenik and Marina it was quite the opposite. In Sibenik, a man jumped out of his seat as if stung by an adder, when he saw us, and ran towards us. “Do you need a room? I have great offer.“ Marina was similar. It was Annemarie’s birthday, and we were roaming the streets in search of accommodation. The constant wind, it seemed, had swept people off the streets. Just a couple of minutes later, suddenly a man stood on one of the balconies calling out to us: „I’ve got a room for you.” We were happy to have found a roof over our heads yet again, and a very inexpensive one at that. We are deeply grateful to have found accommodation in Croatia – private homes or youth hostels – every night so far.

Split was special. We got a phone call from Uwe Müller who invited us to stay at his home. We very much appreciated Uwe and Edita’s excellent hospitality. This German-Croatian family has a great Christian publishing ministry. Uwe in turn introduced us to a couple, Michael and Brigitte, who had sailed around the world for a number of years. Since sailing is something Hanspeter has always been interested in, you can imagine how great it was to meet real ‘sailors’ and to have the chance to ask them all about their world trip over dinner. We were amazed when we found out that their story had been published in the very same magazine („Lebenslust“) as our announcement of our hike from Basel to Jerusalem. That night, they made it possible for us to spend the night on a sailing boat. Two days later we sailed to two different islands with them. On the island of Hvar, after another night on the boat, we got off and walked across this enchanting island, which is blessed with lots of sun, for three days mainly using dirt roads. By the way, the sailing experience was extra special to us, since it was connected to a promise made by Annemarie 23 years before. Back then she had promised Hanspeter that one day she would go sailing with him. But as things go, at times, the years go by and nothing happens. Never before did we have such a great opportunity! We marvel at this wonderful chance God laid at our feet.

We are very grateful to Edita Mueller who will translate our blog entries into Croatian from now on. We would also like to extend our thanks to Priscilla Felder who translates our entries into Italian, and Manuela Näf who has been responsible for the English version of our blog so far. Many thanks also to Tabea Andörfer for her assistance.

For videos showing an olive harvest, Uwe and Edita, Michael and Brigitte, more information on the Müllers‘ publishing/literature distribution ministry in Croatia and sailing retreats organized by Michael, please go to:

Videos: http://baseljerusalem.wordpress.com/category/video 

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/obrist-impulse

Croatian books: www.lifeismore.info

Sailing: www.hopeforcroatia-sailing.com

May the peace of God be with you all

Hanspeter and Annemarie

Dubrovnik Croatia

November 19, 2010

Greetings from Dubrovnik

New pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/obrist-impulse

Uwe and Edita Split

November 11, 2010

Split Croatia

November 11, 2010