Zoom in on a little, diesel Volkswagen, buzzing and sputtering across the sparse, orange Croatian scrub. It’s a taxi, though there are no signs or licenses or anything like that. Thinking back, I probably shouldn’t have entrusted my life to a man with only a fistful of teeth, a vibrating dashboard and no taxi-driving license. But still, when you have to catch a flight, what are your options?
So, there we are, bouncing quickly across a rough Croatian road. It’s safe to say that the Croatians don’t look after their roads as well as their Montenegrin brethren. The road was hazardous — you know, the kind where your car can jump left or right into the ditch if you don’t keep a firm grip of the wheel — which wouldn’t normally have been a problem, but unfortunately the taxi driver was a SHOUTER and GESTICULATOR. Seriously, what were the odds? Not only was my taxi falling apart, but every time the taxi driver spoke he turned his head, leaned close so that his lips were only a few inches from my ear, lifted one hand off the steering wheel and BELLOWED into my EAR.
He didn’t even speak English! I thought speaking slowly… and… loudly… was a British… tourist… thing… but no! So he’s shouting Montenegrin into my ear. I’m keeping my eyes on the road, my hand within striking distance of the wheel or handbrake. From my limited grasp of the language, I can tell he’s talking about Montenegro (Crna Gora), about how he’s proud of his nation. “CRNA GORA!” he shouts and I can feel spittle landing on my earlobe. He makes a kind of wobbling gesture with his hand, accompanied by whooshing noises. “Airplane?” – “Da! AIRPLANE!” – “Crna Gora…exports?” — “DA! DA! EXPORTS!”
At this point, he takes both hands off the steering wheel. I don’t know if the car stuck to the road by magic, or whether it just happened all too quickly for anything bad to happen. He starts counting on one hand, while gesticulating Montenegro’s main exports with the other.
“VINO!”, a finger up on one hand, and a swigging motion with the other.
“MASLINOVO ULJE!”, another finger up, and a sprinkling motion with the other.
“PIČKA!”, whereupon he balls both hands into fists and makes a monumental thrusting motion with his hips. The car veers quickly to the left and I, with protean dexterity, grab the steering wheel. He doesn’t even say thank you, just nods and smiles.
So there you have it, the three main exports of Montenegro, according to a crazy taxi driver are wine, olive oil and pussy.