As I said before, in Bosnia you do not need a prescription to access birth control, and as an American, it had never even occurred to me that this was a possibility. I would sooner have believed that the moon landing took place on my left ovary than I would have believed that some women can access birth control without first experiencing the emotional trauma of a pap smear.
It is not uncommon then, for women to come from other countries to Bosnia to stock up on the anti-procreation pill. When we went to Bosnia this year, I did not know that we were going as progesterone-pirates. Otherwise I would have gone prepared with something to trade– money, clothes, or a kidney, for example. Next year when I go to Croatia, I’ll be taking a Bosnian detour faster than a rich old white guy can say “DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD.”
There are two main roads to take to get into Bosnia from Vrbanja, the shorter of which runs through Gunja, a village on the banks of the River Sava. Geographically lower than many of the surrounding areas, Gunja had been one of the villages most severely affected by the flooding in May.
After talking briefly with herself, my progersterone-partner-in-crime decided that it was best to take the road that ran through Gunja. We were leaving the next morning, and still had some business to take care of in Vrbanja, so we were on a tight schedule.
The distance between Vrbanja and Gunja is only about thirty kilometers, but as we neared Gunja, it began to feel like a different place and time altogether.
“Well I can already tell this was a bad idea,” said my co-conspirator as she lit a cigarette. To my right I could see the River Sava, perfectly still in the setting sun.
On either side of the road lay bags of sand and signs that had only months before been roadblocks. Guardrails lay in twisted piles of metal. Beyond the road was acre upon acre of rotting crops, toppled over on themselves in black and brown heaps. In the distance, pillars of smoke told of farmers burning the debris that was their livelihood.
In the village, homes stood like empty shells. Broken windows and missing doors revealed houses with only walls and roofs. Inside there was nothing. There was no furniture. There were no toys. There were no pictures hanging on walls or carpets on floors or flowers in gardens. There was no laundry on lines. There were no children in yards or men in pubs. There were only signs on houses forbidding entry, and piles of rubble that might have been homes.
More than anything, there was nothing, like life itself had been turned off.