For various reasons we do quite a lot of driving around Bosnia. So, although we live in Tuzla, which is in the Federation part of Bosnia (the Bosnian Muslim and Croat bit), we do spend quite a lot of time driving around the Serb part of Bosnia, the Republika Srpska (almost always known as the RS).
This doesn't usually entail any problems. It is still a part of the same country. The cars all have the same licence plates, the money is the same, the language is the same (bar the odd semantic difference about whether you are speaking Bosnian or Serbian, but for us to be able to notice the differences between the languages would need us to speak it a whole lot better than we do). The police forces are different but by in large they can't face dealing with the English driver so both forces tend to leave us alone.
By far the biggest difference for us, is the script in which the road signs are written. The Federation operates in the Latin script. The letters all look like what we're used to. We might not have a clue what the signs mean, but at least we can have a decent stab at what the word actually is. In the RS the signposts are in Cyrillic. Not only do we not know what they are saying but we can't even read them. I get sudden bursts of sympathy for my boys starting out on learning to read. Now I know how they feel, a maze of symbols which mean absolutely nothing to me.
We are not totally clueless though. We know for example that a sign that says 'CapajeBo' equates to Sarajevo. A building with 'pectopar' written on it is a restaurant. This gives us a certain number of letters from which we can start to construct the word.
So, as we drive along we tend to have conversations that go something like this:
Driver: Where are we?
Map Reader: I don't know
D: There's a signpost - what does it say
MR: I don't know.
D: Get the map out.
MR: The map is in Latin, the signpost is in Cyrillic, I still don't know where we are.
D (stopping the car in front of the sign, often with an audible sigh and a form of well if you could mapread properly in the first place you would know where we are anyway): Ok, there are 8 letters.
MR: Alright, do we know any of them?
D: Blank, S, Blank, Blank, R, A, Blank, Blank, Blank.
MR (hunting frantically on the map for any name that might fit the bill) er, not sure, can't quite see anything that fits, is there a Z anywhere?(we know what Z looks like too, it is a back to front 3)
D: No Z
MR: How about a C?
D: I don't know what a C looks like.
MR: Well do you think the last 3 letters could be VIC?
D: Dunno. Probably.
MR: Oo, oo, I think I can see where we are. Oh no, sorry, that town only has 6 letters. Are you sure that it is 8 letters? Is there a D?
D (by this point the driver is usually getting quite irate and there have been a couple of cars tooting us as they pass us): Yes it is still 8 letters. No, no Ds. I don't know if there's a D. Maybe there is a D. Anyway you've had enough guesses, that's hangman, you lose, it's your turn to drive.
And off we go, only for the whole process to be repeated at the next signpost or town, whichever appears first.
We've been places and we still don't have a clue where. We spent an entire afternoon once driving around the area to the East of Sarajevo and were in quite a big town and to this day we don't know where we actually were. We have now decided to take action and are developing our own crib sheet, one with all the letters on, to help us. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that we'll still be playing our own Bosnian version of hangman most times we go out for a drive.