Since certified normal persons don’t need a lot of sleep, Shanks woke us up at the break of dawn to get some coffee after our pasta pesto breakfast. He invited us to come with him to his hometown for some fishing which we accepted gladly. He carefully chose some benches with a nice view to serve as checkpoints and to catch our breath. Arriving in Podobuce, he took us to his appartment to drop off our stuff. Then he dissapparead for a minute, muttering something like “my father said it’s here but I think he hid it from me”. Suddenly he stood there with a spear gun in is hand and cried out: “Okaaay my young padawan, let’s go spearfishing, I will show you!”
He guided us through his olive gardens to a place that had everything: a secluded beach with a 9m practice cliff jump, crystal clear water and a rockfish infested bay, perfect for spearfishing. These fish were our main target, since it is a very elusive species being masters of camouflage and very poisenous. After showing us the basics and explaining the rules that the fish don’t follow, we dove in to start the hunt. Instead of underwater observers, we stepped up our game and evolved to true aquatic jedi knights with Shanks as our master. We exceeded our daily limit of 5 fish and called it a day as the darkness fell.
After another short night, the master woke us up to continue our training. With his neighbour Ante as captain, we had a small fishing excursion on his 32 year old vessel. As Shanks said: “This is a modest boat, because you don’t need a big one, not like those rich people with Lamborghini and their endless supply of motorcycles that they never use”. After one hour of hunting near a hidden cave we headed back to the Spearfish Pirates’ headquarters to make some fish soup so delicious even the fish like it. We improvised a little and gave our own twist to this true Croatian delicacy. Ante’s homebrew red wine gave the finishing touch to our moonlit rooftop dinner. Shanks slammed a bottle of booze on the table, and we ended our night like any true pirate would. The liquor caused our host to finally snooze the extra hours we desperately needed to get back on the road. We received some loot (a straw hat and some strange but effective creams made by his herba- alchemist mother). The ultimatum we got until we could leave the island was that we had to solve the following riddle:
“I’m the beginning of the end and the end of time and space, I’m essential to creation and I surround every place. What am I?”
After our mastermind solved this in mere minutes we said our farewells and headed back to the mainland.
Eager to reach Herzegovina and hear about Oli’s adventures, we cycled non-stop to the border. The customs officer on duty chuckled a bit when he heard about our destination and let us through without any hassle. After supporting the local agriculture, buying fruits and veggies for the upcoming days we tried to set up camp near the first city we came across. When we started getting the attention of some city kids, asking about the values of all our belongings we decided to make a rule about where to make our beds. From now on we only camp where we are hidden from unwanted guests. We packed our things and went looking for such place. 10km down the road we found a place that met these requirements, so finally we could write, without distraction, some entertainment for our avid readers.
Our palms were already moist and goosebumps started growing when we mounted the bikes the next morning, knowing what the near future had in store for us. Sharing the silence, we mentally prepared for what was coming, focussing on the rythm of our legs. Halfway to Mostar, Yuri broke the silence: “Hey guys, this bridge looks jumpable, let’s give it a last practice ey!?”. Without saying a word, we parked our bikes and Anton jumped in. “Wooow that’s pretty chilly water over here guys!”. As Stef didn’t believe him, he jumped in and while clenching his teeth he reassured Yuri: “Bwaaah it’s not so bad”. Standing on the riverside the two saw Yuri jumping and feeling tricked they heared him clappering: “Daaaamn you bastards, I’m swimming in icecubes!”. The cold seemed to have cleansed our worried minds and soon we reached our destination with smiles on our faces. Trying (and failing) not to peak over the edge over the Old Town Bridge, we entered the touristic beehive that is Mostar. The buzzing was muffled when we settled in front of a mosque with a hot cup of joe to wait for our lost boy.
An American couple walked up to us and inquiered about our voyage. After chatting for a while we explained our business in Mostar and they countered the challenge we were about to attempt. Jennifer and her husband wished us luck on our future travels before rejoining the swarm. Before too long two New Zealanders who share our lifestyle joined us while we were visiting the long forgotten Hotdog-land. Cameron had already met Stari Most in the way we would like to get acquainted with her, and assured us that it’s “good fun”. During this meeting Anton left and started making his way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and he’s Oli-bound. At last we were reunited and after a round of high fives and hollers we caught up on each other’s stories.
We needed some sleep for the ‘big day’, but since forests are scarce in the city centre of Mostar, we found a hostel to get the rest we deserved. Shanks and his right hand man ‘Roko D. Loco’ payd us a surprise visit with potions to help us sleep in a bed, which is something we are not quite comfortable with. He revealed some mischievous plans, which might bring us back together in the future. They inspired us to press on until we reach Shanghai at any cost because “Any idiot can cut down a tree, but you need willpower to make a boat out of it”.