I notice when I am out and about how many men there are in Sarajevo – groups of older men having coffee at the cafes, young men in groups at the local bars, and the lack of noticeable local women in the same settings. So where do the women hang out?
This past week I hurt my back – I felt it coming but was not prepared for the discomfort I’ve experienced since Wednesday night. And as my experience here has shown, I have felt an abundance of kindness, generosity, and flexibility. My hostel family set me up with a doctor and physical therapist who have been very helpful and so reasonably priced. I also have to add them to my “Strangers who have seen me in my underwear: Sarajevo Experiences” list. I am not a shy person, of course I have my body insecurities in regards to my recent weight gain, as most of us do, however, I’m comfortable in my skin. Even with this, it still takes a deep breath and a boost of self-confidence when I’m asked to undress in front of strangers here (doctors, massage therapists, etc.). In America, we are given paper gowns of some kind, a few moments alone to undress, and here, so far, it has been, “OK, take your clothes off and climb onto the table.” And of course, this has become a group joke. I’m now keeping a tally. But this also speaks to the culture here: it’s relaxed, unpretentious, and accepting. Who cares about seeing a little nakedness, it’s natural, it’s benign, and, there have been bigger things to think about here.
Although my back is still uncomfortable, I feel like I am in good hands and I am told to “Be careful” and “Listen to my back.” Shouldn’t we all listen to our bodies more?
Also this week, I was asked to cover the front desk at the hostel, what an honor! I love my hostel family. I love that they trust me and are comfortable enough to ask. I also love that I have the opportunity to give them something back for all of their time, kindness, and generosities. And, I’m meeting new friends every day at the hostel while continuing to build and strengthen my new friendships within our group.
Tomorrow we head out to Tuzla and Srebrenica. I’m am sure we will have lots to write about upon our return.