28-Sep-2007 -- (Story part 2 of 4) The story of the four last confluences in Europe begins with 44N 19E .
I woke up in Sokolac, a small town near the 44N 19E confluence ready and determined to get to the next confluence. Because I had to cross all of northeastern Bosnia to get there, I figured I’d spend most of the day driving.
I crossed the (Bosnian) Serbian Republic/Bosniak line while on a small countryside road in the hills. It was obvious because of a small checkpoint shack that let me through without stopping, and then the sudden appearance of mosques. I spent many hours in Bosniak territory, and then around Doboj I crossed back into the other side of the Serbian territory on my way to Derventa, a city near 45N 18E.
This confluence is the one ‘incomplete’ of the four. Adam attempted it but proceeded no further because of the sadness of the situation and the danger of mines. I had also been warned by my guidebook not to enter the country in this area because the devastation is excessive and disturbing. I was worried about being traumatized by this, but tried to prepare myself mentally for it. I had already seen massively shelled buildings in Mostar and Sarajevo.
I was also uneasy about the confluence itself. The region near the confluence and around Derventa, was by far the most heavily mined region I would be visiting. The only consolation was that there seemed to be a road only 1.5 km (.9 mi.) from the confluence, but that was too long of a distance to walk through a potential minefield. The map suggested there were a lot of dwellings in the area so I just crossed my fingers for beaten paths – the opposite objective of most confluence hunting, right?
By about 3 PM I had already passed Derventa. After one or two missteps I finally located the turnoff road. At this point I was only 1.6 km (1 mi.) away. Biting my nails, I followed it to something like 700 meters (2100 ft) away, looking off into some ranch-like houses on a hillside, as my road was now moving no closer. Amazing luck had it that there was a small dirt road perpendicular to my road heading straight to the confluence. I followed it, thinking it must be someone’s driveway. It led me to a tiny turnoff even closer to the confluence. I followed it until it was blocked by a small stream. I was only 150 meters (450 ft) away now!
I got out of my car and inspected the area around the stream. There was a well treaded-upon tiny dirt path on both sides of the stream. I crossed it and then found myself in a grassy cow pasture, complete with two cows grazing. I followed the pasture around a corner, and there was the confluence. It was just down the hill from a house. As I documented the point, a teenage boy passed by on his way to the house. He had been out in the pastures and was carrying a bucket. I said ‘Dobar Dan’ (hello in Serbian) to him, but I’m not sure he said anything back.
A very easy confluence. Half were done now. Would I be able to achieve them all? I was excited to get all of Europe’s last confluences, but all along I had been most worried about the two remaining confluences. They were so remote, and there would be little chance of beaten paths to avoid mines. I wouldn’t really have success unless I got ALL 4 points. It was only a little after 3 PM so I thought I’d might as well head to Europe’s second-to-last point 45N 17E.