After nearly 30 hours of a complete lack of stimulation traveling across the globe, it was quite a relief to be in Sarajevo. From the first moments off the bus at our beloved Hotel Kovači, I was captivated by the sights and sounds of the city. And so here we have the five senses of Sarajevo, a quick look at some of the ways in which my senses have been stimulated.
The Five Senses of Sarajevo
Architecture. The architecture in Sarajevo is foreign but also familiar. It reveals influences from the Ottoman Empire to the Soviet Union, and the buildings look like textbook pictures of different time periods. Evidence of the war is etched into the walls of halfway repaired buildings in shrapnel damage.
Mountains. The mountains are beautiful, but also haunting. Sarajevo came under siege by an army hiding in the same mountains that we now photograph as visitors because of their lush green forests. Hidden beneath the brightly colored tree-lined areas unoccupied by houses are likely land mines, which add another layer of depth to the city’s surroundings.
Roses (and Lillies). Are. Everywhere. These roses are not run-of-the-mill roses either. Their scent is stronger than any I’ve smelled in the States, and its inspired me to grow a little garden featuring the flowers of places I’ve travelled… Lillies and roses for Bosnia, of course.
Cigarettes. Are. Also. Everywhere. Perhaps the largest contrasting scent to that of wild flowers, the smell of cigarettes. It’s headache-inducing, but also becomes an avenue to get to know people. So if I’ve been offered a cigarette here, I generally don’t turn it down. (Sorry mom!)
European breakfast. Bread and cheese and butter and jam and fruit and milk and cured meat and cereal and coffee that’ll put hair on your chest. I can actually eat it ALL here because it’s fresh and not full of corn syrup and soy product. That’s extremely refreshing for this lady with a limited diet.
Jogurt. Drinkable yogurt, much tastier than the Gogurt found in the States, makes for a refreshing drink with chicken and potatoes. It’s sour, but mild enough to sip on for an entire meal. I’ve had it about five times now, and every time someone says, “You know this isn’t sweet, right?”
Call to prayer. This is my first experience in a country where the Muslim call to prayer is projected to the community. I’m not exactly sure why, but I was expecting a call to be deafening with people dropping to their knees in the street, which looking back is of course a caricature of reality. Instead there is a gentle reminder for Muslims to stop and pray all across the city, and sometimes I have to even be prompted to hear it. It’s a beautiful spiritual reminder.
Horns. Like any big city, there are cars everywhere, and like lots of European cities these cars drive like bats out of hell. Hence, horns are honking day and night. Yesterday I heard horns for a solid ten minutes and wondered what kind of traffic jam had been created, but realized that these horn sounds were from people excited to be playing in the World Cup!! And so I think like anything, horns aren’t always bad.
I tend to look at the feeling sense in two sub-categories: the stimulation of touch and the soulful, nearly unexplainable feelings that come from within. (In other words, what I feel and how I feel.)
The tangible sense of feel and touch includes intricate textiles and copper designs, sweat, tears, bumpy roads through the mountains, sunshine and rain.
I feel consistently content in a country that is community-oriented and friendly. I feel extremely sad to better understand this country’s past. I feel a mix of emotions about what I’ve seen, heard, tasted and smelled. And I want to sit with these emotions. I want to let them sink in and understand how important they can be. I look forward to writing here about this journey.