I’ve put off writing this post for a while because I’m not sure how to sum up eight weeks of my life in one blog post. Someone recently asked me to list the top three highlights of my time in Bosnia and I had trouble answering that as well. One of the biggest highlights was definitely the Peace March. It’s a little hard to express what that experience meant to me to people at home. I think it’s difficult for people to understand what it was like unless that have experienced it for themselves. One thing that I’ll never forget is the kindness that people expressed towards me during the march. People that I didn’t know prior to the march gave me food, clothes, a place to sleep, carried my bag at times, and walked with me so that I wasn’t alone. In the States, I feel like a lot of people are just looking out for themselves so this experience kind of restored my faith in humanity a bit. If that makes any sense.
One thing that I really miss about Bosnia is the food. Before the trip, I was worried that I would have a hard time finding food that I could eat since I’m a vegetarian. However, I quickly fell in love with sirnica and krompirusha. I ate some almost every day and it always made me so happy.
Another highlight for me was definitely hanging out with the people at my internship, especially the men that took the time to teach me to play chess and the women that I worked out with. The exercise classes at the Centers for Healthy Aging were always a bright spot in my day. They’ve inspired me to go to the gym more now that I’m back in Denver. At one of the centers, the women liked to sing and dance so that was always a joy to watch. The work that Sejdefa is doing with the centers is so important and I think it’s fantastic that more centers are opening up in Bosnia and Macedonia as well.
One thing that I never got over was how crazy beautiful Bosnia is. I was obsessed with the mountains, especially those between Konjic and Mostar. I could drive through the mountains for hours and hours and never get tired of looking at them. It’s sad that such a beautiful country is still littered with so many mines.
Before I travel somewhere new, I try to have as few expectations as possible because you never know what a place is going to be like until you get there. There have been times where I’ve built up a place so much in my head that when I arrived and saw that it was so different than what I expected, I was kind of disappointed. So I had no idea what to expect before I arrived in Bosnia and the country just constantly amazed me. Some of the people that I met blew me away with their courage and stories of survival. When I look back on my summer, the people are always the first thing to come to mind.