“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go” -Anthony Bourdain
Sarajevo: Part I
Sarajevo – the city that never sleeps. Coming from America the “city that never sleeps” usually refers to Las Vegas, but this city, this place, is anything but Las Vegas. It is the most amazing version of the city that never sleeps. Upon my arrival here in Sarajevo, which was 8:30 pm on a Sunday evening, I could instantaneously fell the energy of this city. Walking through the streets of Baščaršija I noticed people chatting over coffee or hookah, taking a walk and eating ice cream, sharing drinks while watching a football match, or just simply enjoying the evening. Whatever the reason, the city was bustling and busy, with time being irrelevant. This city is a being, and has a heart; this city lives and breathes, and at night, this city awakens. This feeling and energy is paralleled within me. I find myself staying up later at night, watching movies, listening to music, or chatting with friends until the early hours of the morning.
This city, this beautiful and enchanting city is like a drug. The food captivates and entices you; from a block away, one will smell and crave a popular dish known as a Burek- a simple meat pie consisting of meat dough and spices. The architecture of the city is beautiful and displays the vastly different cultures that are present within the city. At the meeting point of the East and West cultures, one can literally see the difference in cultures based upon the buildings. The markets and stores line the cobble-stone, winding streets of the eastern portion of the city. Tall multiple story apartment buildings line the streets of the western side, which are simultaneously visceral reminders of the war, displaying damage from the 4-year siege. The people are incredibly humble and kind. They will offer you their pack of cigarettes, even if said person they are offering cigarettes to does not even smoke. They will also give you food when you are hungry, even if it is their left-overs. Most impressive and breath-taking are the hills and mountains that surround the city. In every direction, there are lush mountains peppered with rustic red roofs. It is like a scene from a fairy tale, and while the beauty may lead one to believe this, the history of this city is anything but that.
The war that raged here was a horrific and brutal war. I struggle to grasp the full emotions and feelings of the people who lived through this war because of the natural beauty of this place. How can somewhere so stunning be home to one of the most horrific acts of man that this world has seen? The juxtaposition of these feelings is indescribable. I struggle with this, and I feel as if these people have been cheated; they have been robbed. The natural beauty of this city was forever taken from them. I try to imagine this happening in my home, in the Rocky Mountains, and I feel as if I have had a piece of me ripped from my heart. I want to describe more of this feeling, but sadly, I am at a lack for words.
This city, already, has so effortlessly and seductively taken a piece of my heart. And while my ego is tentative in letting that happen, I strive to deny my ego and feed my soul. My soul is beginning to grow, and I can feel it. Just like this city, my soul is awakening and anchoring its roots. This city is bringing out my adventurous, curious, emotional, part of me. With all of that being said, this place makes me realize how big the world is. How amazingly different the world is. How much I do not know. How much I need to push myself and learn. And this city, this amazing city, will most certainly do that.