My journey to Bosnia-Herzegovina started at 12:41pm on June 12th, 2013 as I boarded a plane out of DIA headed towards Boston, Massachusetts. I’ve never been to the East Coast. I met a young woman on the plane who is a student in Boston earning her Bachelor’s degree in computer and graphic design. She was headed back to Boston from San Jose, California to help out with orientation of new students. The plane ride was quite pleasant and relaxing, and as I rode on the plane my head was filled with anticipation of the upcoming experiences I would have in BiH.
The Massachusetts landscape was green, majestic and magical as the clouds opened up during the descent into the Boston airport. From the plane, I could see the many openings into the ocean from the bay as well as the numerous docks, fisheries and industrial stations. I recall thinking to myself, “This is a place I want to visit in the future.” The Boston airport was busy and bustling with life. Our plane was late, about 20 minutes, arriving from Denver. My stomach ached from hunger and I noted to my travelling companions that food was “a must”. As we navigated the busy airport, we had to travel down numerous, seemingly deserted, hallways to arrive at the terminal; a small adventure preparing us for the large adventure ahead.
Entering the airport to Munich was surreal. “I can’t believe I’m finally doing this”, I thought to myself. I would like to say next that the plane ride to Munich was filled with joy, wonder and happiness but, I would be lying – the plane ride was hell. Economy class seating into any foreign country (as any world traveler I am certain knows too well) is equivalent to being a sardine packed into a tiny container. Seating was cramped and for seven hours, I struggled to find creative ways to move my body that in many ways felt like I was being subjected to some form of yoga torture.
The German airport was different from the states. First, there are smoking cubicles. Each cube appeared to hold about 10-15 people and each cube was marked by an enormous branding sign sponsored by a tobacco company. Being a trained drug and alcohol counselor, I found this to be quite humorous. The vast difference between DIA and Munich airport was undeniable. The flight from Munich to Sarajevo was short; about an hour, and as I arrived in this attractive, lively, fashionable and slow developing city, I smiled and said to myself, “I have arrived”.
After passing through customs, I walked out of the arrivals bay and the first two people I actively noticed were Ann Petrila and Emily Gamm who had big smiles and open arms. Ann graciously announced, “even though you don’t like hugs, you’re getting one” as she gently hugged and welcomed me. This warm welcome was very appreciated in my stupor from the arduous 18 hour journey.
I have now been in Sarajevo for five days and each day has brought with it a new experience; a “getting to know you” tour including new and interesting foods, coffees, people, places, sights, sounds, smells, etc. This country is beautiful and the diversity is captivating. The serene natural environment is intertwined with a vibrant and rambunctious city life. I feel curious and drawn to the city.There are many adventures to be had in this city and I am ready!