National Geographic : 1951 Feb
Yugoslavia, Between East and West the co-op; each gets paid in cash and kind, according to his share and the number of hours worked. Most of the farm's produce goes to the State at fixed prices; what's left after members get their share can be sold on the free market. "What about the farmer who tills his own land?" I asked. "How does he make out?" These individualists, came the answer, must sell a fixed quota of their basic foodstuffs to the Government at low State-set prices. The surplus, if any, can be sold on the free market. The State controls the sale of fertilizer, tools, and machinery. Surprises Test a Traveler's Wits Back in Belgrade, we hunted long for a road map, finally got one from Putnik's manager, and headed for Sarajevo. An official permit to photograph-ending with the old Partisan slogan, "Death to Fascism, Liberty to the People"-identified us. Backtracking on the superhighway, we found the main road to Sarajevo with some difficulty. A wide red line on our map, it turned out to be a pair of wagon tracks meandering across a field. Once off the superhighway, we found driving conditions like those of backwoods America 50 years ago. We weren't to see another lengthy strip of paved road until our journey neared its end. Holes and rocks slowed us down until 25 miles an hour seemed like flying. Inches-thick dust seeped through floor boards; swirling in a cloud behind, it drifted on the car like snow. Signposts almost dis appeared; garages were rarer. We never knew what we'd find around the next curve. Beyond the village of Kuzmin a steep 20-foot railway embankment crossing the road blocked our advance. The road con tinued beyond it, but no way over or through this major obstacle had been provided. We followed a wide-flanking wagon trail to the broad Sava River. With wheels locked, shouting teamsters drove drays loaded with Paul Bunyan-sized logs down a steep grade onto a bargelike ferry. We squeezed the auto aboard, its rear wheels scarcely on. Hand power pulled us across (page 143). Soon the flat Sava plain gave way to crum pled foothills. In Bijeljina we saw the first mosques, Turkish-type dress, and veiled women of our journey. A tenth of Yugo slavia's 16,000,000 population are Moslems; in mountainous Bosnia the fraction jumps to three fifths. They are largely of pure Slavic stock, the curved sword of Islam having con verted their ancestors centuries ago. The old folks stick to traditional ways; the young-even the girls-take jobs in industry and government, earn medical degrees, and play an active part in community life. A recent Bosnian law forbids the wearing of the veil, but we saw these short black face coverings everywhere in parts of Yugoslavia once ruled by the Sultan. Beyond Bijeljina the mountains grew bolder; seldom in high gear, we climbed and dipped on a tortuous ledge blasted from living rock. Bearded, fez-topped shepherds cleared a way for us through milling flocks of sheep and goats blocking the road. Plodding men in pantaloons and turned-up sandals led patient burros carrying loads twice their size. A pack-horse caravan, rearing and plunging, took to the hills at our approach. High above a racing mountain torrent, we waited while workmen dynamited the crum bling ruins of a Turkish fort to make way for a hydroelectric dam. Whitewashed boulders on a near-by slope outlined a colossal star and hammer and sickle. Moslem wives, spinning by their mud-brick huts, turned their backs on us. Peasants in narrow valley farms flailed and winnowed grain in timeless fashion. In almost every rude hamlet, however small, a sizable new brick building stood out, its front plastered with political slogans. They are combined schools and civic centers, visible part of a campaign to unify these mountain people and stamp out illiteracy. At night the narrow, twisting, rock-strewn road to Sarajevo, deep in the rugged heart of Bosnia, became a grim test of nerve. Too close for comfort, the railless outer roadside fell sheer a hundred yards. Suddenly the darkness swallowed us; we'd blown a fuse. Down a Mountain Road by Flashlight After 14 hours on the front seat, almost anything seemed better than sleeping there. While I beamed a pocket flashlight ahead, Kurt guided the auto, hugging the mountain side of the road. Mile after endless mile, hour after weary hour, we crept along at a snail's pace until our eyes felt about to pop. They got a wel come treat as we rounded yet another turn. Twinkling like a thousand fallen stars, the lights of mountain-girt Sarajevo studded the valley below. Next morning we viewed the city from an abandoned Moslem cemetery atop Poligon Mountain. Squeezed into a narrow valley, this secluded Bosnian capital climbs moun tains. Walled houses on steep slopes seemed to stand on the shoulders of those below. Pink-tile roofs overlapped on the valley floor.