What an incredible place. Visiting Bosnia has been nothing short of an adventure. When I was telling Europeans where I was headed, I got many of the same reactions: “Bosnia?! Why would you want to go there?” This deeply saddened me. Yes, there was a war there, but that is not all that defines this country. We were welcomed with genuine smiles and curiosity by everyone we came across, the food was MIND BLOWINGLY delicious, and the nature was absolutely stunning. Not to mention, it was so fascinating to walk through the “old town” and Bascarsija in Sarajevo with it’s Ottoman influences, and as you continue on your journey downtown, you begin to realize you are surrounded by buildings that are not Ottoman anymore, but Austro-Hungarian. The “East meets West” feel in Sarajevo is truly unique, and I found it to be extremely charming.
While the war is a very big and quite recent part of this country’s long and complicated history, I deeply wish that the rest of Europe (as well as the rest of the world) would not define this country by the fighting and the genocide, because it has so much to offer.
I want to mention how special it was that I was able to be in this country when they were in the world cup for the first time ever. The morale and support they showed for their team was so heartfelt and wonderful. The first night Bosnia played during the world cup was the most fun I have ever had watching soccer. Observing everyone watching the game being so proud, united, and invested was really a treat. I’ll always be rooting for Bosnia!
I felt so honored that I was able to see the village of Lukomir. Because many of the younger generation of the Nomadic people who settled there are now opting to live in the city, I am not sure how much longer those traditions and way of life will be preserved. They still do not have running water or electricity. I tried to imagine being born there, amongst the grand mountains, in such a remote location, and what my life would have been like.
Although the understanding the impact of the war was not the only part of the trip, it was still very significant. As someone in our class said “Bosnia is a country full of veterans”. Everyone we met had been affected by the war. It was very moving when our guide, Jadranka, told us about her experience during the siege of Sarajevo. Her story really helped me understand how much people’s life’s changed…basically overnight. Meeting survivors Saliha and Hasan was also very moving. I will never forget their stories. To me, they are both heroes, and they are people who I feel so blessed and honored to have met and spoken with in person.
This trip was truly remarkable. I am so lucky that I have had the opportunity to see and learn so much about Bosnia. Although I feel I learned a lot, I will forever still have so many questions. Volim te Bosno!