Then it rained. No drouth-breaking rain in Santa Fe was ever more welcome. I was in Mostar, Bosnia. But the damage to my original itinerary - tentative in form as it was - was already done. I began to research other itineraries. I jotted down some notes on my options:
Do whirlwind tour of most favored destinations, go home early
Go everywhere I was planning to go, just go with AC...but will that mean going to Delphi or Athens, for instance, and only going from air conditioned facility to facility, or staying in and doing nothing?
Travel elsewhere. It makes no sense for me to stay in this heat if I can't be out, meeting people and learning new things. After Sarajevo, make a plan that includes taking in Athens, Delphi, and Istanbul.
Go north after Sarajevo or Sofia.
I considered adding some or all of the following destinations
Warsaw (I met a couple from Poland who are teaching ESL, and they made some suggestions about visiting their country)
My next step was to decide where I wanted to go, and why: university towns, national parks, inexpensive locations, zen monasteries, hamlets conducive to writing and WiFi?
Then I met a Columbia University student in Sarajevo as we were both heading to the train station, both heading toward Zagreb - me to it, her through it - and she loaned me her Lonely Planet guide to Europe on a Shoestring for the 10 hour ride. During that time I decided that I will abandon the Balkans for the Baltics. So I will be going to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. That means I will probably also go to Poland, Budapest, Hungary, and might even make it to Berlin. This means missing out on Albania, Macedonia, Romania and, most likely, even Greece. It may also mean that, in order to get to Istanbul, I will probably have to fly there. Either that or go there directly after Sofia and then fly north from there.
As you can see, there are still decisions to be made. I need to sit down with a map and a calendar and sort out what works best.
For the moment, I will say this: Zagreb looks like love at first sight. I would love to live within weekend getaway distance of Plitvice Lakes. I can really do without all the cigarette smoke in the Balkans. I'm immensely relieved that the heat wave has broken, and am a bit bemused that I now need a sweater to go out, even in midday. I hate that Europeans eat songbirds. And I miss my friends and Boz. Will you visit me if I decide to stay?