I kept a journal during the trip, so I had detailed notes about Days 1 – 8. I did not make a journal entry on Day 9. However, I will always remember the events of that day.
Our flight from Sarajevo to Munich would be at 2 PM, and before that it would take three hours to get to Sarajevo. The bus arrived early, and the luggage was put into its compartment, except for Dianne’s, John’s, and mine. Ours went into the trunk of John and Dianne’s rental car. The car had GPS, so John was going to use that rather than follow the bus. Dianne offered me the front seat, but if you know me, you know that I strongly prefer to sit behind the driver. That’s what I did.
We drove through dozens of simple small towns that were similar in many ways to Medjugorje except that there were no crowds of pilgrims and no souvenir shops. The three of us spent the first two hours of the trip chatting and observing the scenery. John made as many stops as Dianne and I needed to get water or snacks, to use the facilities, or just to stretch our legs.
Eventually we were driving behind a very slow truck for a long time. When it was safe to pass the truck, crossing the broken line on the road, John did so. This happened at a curve in the road. On the other side of the curve, a policeman waved us over. John opened the window. The policeman said something, but of course we didn’t understand a word of the language, so none of us replied. The policeman said the same thing he had said before, but louder. Again, he got no response from us. The he took out a notebook and drew a picture of a car crossing a solid line while passing a truck. We knew John hadn’t done that, but what were we to do? It was his word against ours, and we had no words in his language.
At that point, the bus filled with our fellow pilgrims rounded the curve, and they saw us with the policeman. People told me later that JoAnn was panic stricken. What was the policeman going to do with us? What if I didn’t show up at the airport on time for the flight? Should she get on the plane without me? Should she wait for me and hope I would show up eventually? What if I didn’t show up? What should she do then?
Dianne, John and I were having similar thoughts. What if the policeman took us to jail, or told us we had to wait until 3 PM to see a judge? Would we be able to find a lawyer who spoke English?
The policeman indicated to John that he should get out of the car and follow him. Dianne and I had no idea what was happening between John and the policeman, but we tried to stay calm, or at least, we pretended for each other’s sakes that we were calm. Later John told us that the policeman had written the number “50 ” in his book and showed it to John. John returned to us and asked us if we had any cash left. John had twenty dollars, I had twenty euros, and Dianne had four dollars. Dianne told John not to give the policeman any money because we were innocent. John calmly told her that this was the best thing for us to do under the circumstances. He handed our money to the policeman, telling him in English that this was all we had. It was enough. He let us go.
The three of us chattered excitedly during the remainder the drive, thankful that we had some cash with us. I was so grateful that Nick had bought extra euros the last time we were in the EU. We were certain that we had been set up. We wondered how many people the police pull over at that precise spot each day. Did the police officer turn the money over to his superiors? We doubted it.
After returning the rental car, we went to the airport gate. Our bus had made rest stops, so we arrived before it. Our fellow pilgrims joined us within minutes, with a very relieved JoAnn among them. Everyone wanted to know the story of our misadventure.
Both of our return flights were calm and uneventful. Nick and Tom were waiting for us at the airport in Boston, very happy to see us and glad that we were safe and well. As this was Nick’s birthday, we went out for dinner while we shared stories of our experiences. We returned home the next morning, appreciating JoAnn and Tom’s hospitality for the night.
Many unusual things had happened during the trip. Were they miracles? I don’t know for sure. I do know that I was among very giving, caring, kind, God-loving people, and I know that the trip had a much deeper impact on me than I ever imagined it would.