Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Road to Brass

One of the main reasons for our journey to Serbia was to travel to Guca, where each year they hold an annual Music festival. Along the way we had gathered our own International conference of people with Pablo joining us and 2 others tagging along for the ride. 2 Australians 1 Englishmen 1 Argentine and Andreas from Paraguay/Austria. 

As we left Smederevo Goran and Marco waved us goodbye and said with perfect straight faces "you guys are gunna die there ok, so remember if you walk on the bridges - walk fast, cos if you fall, you won't be getting back up. The police are going to try and ask you for a border crossing tax, but just tell them to get lost, as you are not crossing any international borders between here and Guca. Have a great time guys, and try the cabbage dish, it's the best".  We looked at each other and similaniously said "WTF?!!"

Given the guys were exhausted from driving 10 hours (from Vienna) the day before, and many a beer at Goran's pub, Cara got the call up for her first driving expereince in Europe. I am the first to say that she excelled, especially considering the traffic conditions mentioned on other blogs. Guca is situated on top of mountains in the centre of the country, and the winding roads changing landscapes made for great driving to the festival. Guca is a very tiny town that is transformed each year for between 800,000 to a million crazy people, the majority of these being Serbian. Crowds of people flood the streets each day wanting to listen to and waiting to see who will be crowned Player of the Year.

Although this festival is earmarked as a trumpet festival, it is actaully all about Brass. We did not know for sure, but it seems that there are circa 200 individual groups (about 10 man strong in each) who have their own nominated team jersey and cruze the festival vying for everyones adulation and cold hard cash. You can buy the group for a number of songs, and request almost anything of the band during this time. The events that take place usually play out like this. The Lead Trumpet, usually the conductor of the band will play his heart out, blowing his horn in the face of the person waving the cash, trying to be rewarded with more coin for his effort. The more cash that comes out the more energetic the band plays, until the pace of the music takes off and it is seems that it is every horn for himself racing toward the end of the song. To add to this there is usually 4 bands playing within metres of each other and 100 people dancing drunk around them. Quite the sight, and a bloody good time.

The festival is not all about drinking and listening to brass. There is streets and streets of stalls and traditional food vans, where you can take a moment to sample the very tasty local cuisine or buy souvenirs, or serbian brass CDs. Surrounding the festival is a number of large properties where the owners capitalise each year turning their fields into temporary camp grounds. Packed with hundreds of serbians, polish, czech, and germans all sitting around their cars/campfires drinking beer roasting whole animals and pumping Balcan Brass music from their cars as loud as the stereo can go. Outside the festival in these camp grounds the festival comes to you, with many the savy serb trying to make a Dinar or two selling beer, coffee, food and racki at your car door.  Usually girls not wearing much at all are trying to flogg things that you don't want to buy. And special mention needs to made to Andreas here for making call of the trip. What you get when you are the child of a south american and austrian, is a man who possesses the charisma and charm of Maradona, with the efficiency and procision of clockwork. For example, we were sitting around the car, quite enibriated one evening when a group of the above mentioned girls walk passed the car. This grabbed Andreas attention who quickly hollared " Hey baby, I'll see you later. Probably in 2 hours or something."....... WTF??   Nothing more to add here though, as the girls did not speak english, and nothing came of his advances. 

Tired and sore, having thoroughly enjoyed the Serbian party and hospitality we limped back to Smederevo to continue heading east.


Andreas, Pablo and Me

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