Bosnia and the Balkans have chewed me up, embraced me like an old friend, taken my breath away, and coated my digestive system in goat cheese and kajmak. Most days have favorite moments for me, so I’d like to share just a few that come to mind as I drink my morning coffee…
Driving to Mostar to pick up our rental car for the long weekend in Montenegro, Hassan, our local guide and great friend, smiles at us from the driver’s seat and says, “I have everything”. I’m not even sure how we got on the topic. He works summers at the hostel where we’re staying this summer, lucky to get 4-hours of sleep at night between late arriving guests, prepping breakfast, and always being on call for laundry, tours, and life advice. He goes to University in Sarajevo studying psychology, teaches kids theatre, has his Uncle’s house in Croatia for off-season weekends, has a beautiful daughter in Tuzla, and he is only 21-years-old.
People watching at the café outside of Green Visions. Women gossip eagerly over burning cigarettes and hot coffee even at the peak heat of the day. Most times, they wear outfits of one solid color that would put Blue Man Group to shame. Red shirts, lighter red pants, sparkly red high heels, bold red lipstick. I am clearly an American with my shorts, t-shirt and running shoes. Men and women alike love printed t-shirts with common and not-so-common American phrases. One young guy on the peace march last month had the phrase (or possible band name perhaps?), “Poop skidz. Lights out London”. I can’t even begin to understand what was happening in the t-shirt factory for that to be printed. (Another favorite = “New York. West Coast”)
Swimming. Anywhere. Water has been my saving grace like any classic Florence and the Machine song. I was sick and miserable the weekend we went to Konic and Mostar, and it felt like it was 100 degrees (Farenheit) with a fever on top (I think it was). I sat like a zombie with my mouth hanging open trying to breath on the bus ride, making my will in my head as I wondered if I was dying from malaria or rabies from one of the many street cats I’ve become overly obsessed with. We jumped in the water under the falls and I felt like a five-year old in a toy store. Similarly, this past weekend, after a long car ride through the mountains in Montenegro, we came to Podgorica and asked at the gas station if there was good swimming at the nearby lake. They said the lake was disgusting. Instead, two of the guys hanging out at the café led us through sketchy backroads to a riverside beach bar with diving boards hovering over crystal clear blue water.