In the gathering darkness of a warm evening in Niš we came across a strange, violent dog competition. Men and women sat in lawn chairs, smoking and talking. We spent some time marveling at the strange things we happen across. Traveling – at its best – brings you completely unexpected rituals and cultural spectacles - like this circle in the trees, where people calmly watched Rottweilers attack a man over and over and over.
but 1992 wasn't that long ago. It's difficult to come to a place like this without questions. What are Serbs really like? In general, they've been either incredibly friendly or quite brusque. They aren't especially crazy about America. People our age have been wonderfully open and friendly. In general, they're a lot like most Slavic people.
The dog show was a ritualized display. One could sense the anticipation of tensed muscles, the quickened panting before the leap, the sharp whines imploring the trainer to loosen the leash. Attack dogs are strange things, and it takes a particular type of person to want to train them - someone who wants to both control and commit violence.
We feel safe wandering around Serbia, too. Serbs are good people. I wish, more than anything, that I wasn't suspicious of them. They don't deserve it.