150. I tap it tiredly into my phone. The phone rings twice and then I'm connected to the automated voice of a woman. This woman informs me that standard phone charges may apply and that, for training purposes, calls may be recorded. There is no 'may' about it, standard charges will most definitely apply and these standard charges are enormous, outrageous, you may say. And by 'may', i do say. They are outrageous.
The tone returns to the sound of ringing which is then cut off by Kate. Kate is a pleasant scouser who sits in a warm call-centre with a modern headset propped carefully on her clean long hair and who asks me through that headset how I may be helped. I tell Kate that I want to add a roaming bundle to my phone to save costs. Outrageous costs.
Kate, sadly, can't help. I need the accounts team, she says, and I will have to be put on hold. And with that I take the phone away from my ear and place it down on the large blue barrel filled with canned food that sits in front of me. I click the screen to 'loud speaker' and scratchy music crackles out into the darkness.
Together with Nathan I sit and wait as my phone call moves past the ten minute mark and the sound of Marina and the Diamonds comes to a close. I look beyond the phone and over the flickering campfire to the river that lies in front of me. Water pouring away into the distance like money flowing out of my bank account as every second ticks on my phone.
Midway through the next song I have come to enjoy the sound of music, something we don't often get to hear beyond our own beautifully melodic voices. Bobbing my head in the warm glow of the campfire my rhythm is stopped, this time by Adam.
Adam is also in a cosy call-centre, just a few seats along from Kate. Adam has heard that I would like to add a roaming bundle, to save costs. Outrageous costs. Methodically he takes my name, date of birth, the first line of my address and two characters from my password. The phone call goes over 15minutes. I'd like to buy a bundle, he repeats back to me. We agree that the chosen mission is for a bundle to be purchased and I specify that I would like the 10MB NON-EU Bundle. It's to save costs, I say, outrageous costs.
Adam asks me where I am going. I am going, I tell him, to Romania and Bulgaria but I am also currently in Serbia and need the non-EU bundle. He pauses. He tells me he just needs to look up the EU costs. This week I passed two border control stations, one in Hungary and one in Serbia, where passports were checked, bags probed and papers were signed. Adam helpfully tells me that Serbia is indeed not in the EU. I thank Adam and his timely research that confirmed, no, I'm not in the EU. So the bundle I need is a non-EU one.
Passing 20 minutes, we settle on the 10MB NON-EU Bundle as the most suitable one for me, the one I called twenty minutes earlier with intentions of adding. I even had a feeling back then that the 10MB NON-EU Bundle was the most suitable one for me. It was good, of course, for Adam to confirm this. I'm in Serbia? He asks a final time. Sitting on a life jacket shuffled close to the campfire, on the beach of a small island on a large meander of the lower course of Europe's second largest river I say that yes, yes I do believe I am in Serbia. You would struggle to find someone any more in Serbia to be honest.
And I'm going to Romania? He asks. Yes, I reply, and Bulgaria. Which first? He asks. I'll be on the border. I reply. You cross the border? He says, confused. No, I will be on the border, I am traveling quite specifically along the border between Romania and Bulgaria. Ah. He pauses. He tells me he needs a second to look them up. The second lasts almost a minute as my phone blinks the time at me like money ticking down on a gameshow.
Adam returns to the phone and asks again which country i plan to enter. i tell him, again, that I will be on the border between the two countries. It is also no matter, I say, since they are both EU. Another pause fills the phone. From my spot on the Danube i hear Adam tapping at a keyboard. Ah yes, he confirms, they are both in the EU so your charges are the same in both. Then, after a teasing build up, he says, but you're in Serbia now, right?
Adam tells me that it is fine if I travel along the border. Thank god, i think, that Adam like the EU has my back. Adam adds the bundle to my phone and tells me I now get 80% off 10MB of data when I'm not in the EU, saving me costs. Outrageous costs. Adam asks me if I'd like anything else.
He can't offer a bed, a warm shower, or an extra duvet. He can't wash my clothes or dry my tent out. He can't change the temperature or bring back the good weather. And he can't give me back the phone bill just racked up from that dragged out non-EU call to Adam, himself, the man now pleasantly asking if he can do anymore for me.
"No thanks, if the bundle is added that's fantastic", I reply.
I hang up the phone and place it back in the hard sealed waterproof case that clips to the side of our canoe. I stoke the fire with some driftwood collected by my feet and I look out at the sunset from my spot on the empty island. I am in Serbia, right? A laughable question.