A week before my Balkan road trip I sat in a meeting. I didn’t know the man sitting across from me. I didn’t know his name or his official job title, but I knew he outranked me because of the way he carried himself. We scoffed at the latest news about Trump shoving the prime minister of Montenegro back in May. We conducted our meeting business via phone with an associate in London. Instead of telling the associate goodbye, someone at the table nonchalantly said, “Be safe” and the phone clicked. We all looked around. “Be safe?”
“Yeah, you know, because she’s abroad”.
Then the conversation came full circle.
“She’s in London! It’s not like she’s in Montenegro!” the man across the table mocked. He ran his fingers through his hair.
I thought to myself, “I’ll be there next week”.
That day I learned never to underestimate myself at a table. I had the least education, the least experience, and the least power of anyone sitting there. But I had a different drive to try new things, a different drive to discover things for myself, a drive to force myself out of my bubble.
Montenegro was quiet. It seemed untroubled by the rest of the world. It’s the type of place where you could go and disappear for a while, an undiscovered Marseilles.
Have you ever judged a place before you’ve been there? I have. And it was totally different than what I expected.