The Dinaric Alps traverse the Balkan Peninsula, and are home to countless rivers and lakes, steep gorges and canyons, and interestingly, the world’s tallest people. This past weekend, Global Practice Bosnia ventured to Lukomir, a village nestled in the Alps, and discovered it to be a home away from home. Lukomir is Bosnia’s highest, and most remote village, and coincidentally is located at the same elevation as Denver, 5,280 feet. The thin, fresh air was enervating and called to mind hiking trips in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It wasn’t difficult to discover why the locals have such a hard time separating themselves from this special place during winter months. The younger generations in Lukomir recently made the decision to move the older generations from Lukomir to Sarajevo due to sub-optimal living conditions in the winter months. In the spring when the snow melts, the village elders make their perennial trip up to Lukomir. Samra, a 20-something resident of Lukomir, relayed the story of how each spring she loves witnessing the elders return to the mountain, amazed by how they defy age and gravity, bounding up the mountain with smiles stretched across their faces.
The trip was called the “Three Generations Trip” and was put on by Green Visions. Once we made the trek up to Lukomir, we had the privilege of spending time with three generations of women that have heartily resided in the mountainous village for nearly a century. These three women, and many others, are symbolic of a larger ethos that I’ve come to love about Bosnians. They are tenacious, imaginative, and equipped with a fabulous, wry sense of humor. In post-conflict countries, there is a constant process of re-defining and re-categorizing the notion of happiness. I was reminded of Viktor Frankl’s book entitled “Man’s Search for Meaning,” in which the author uses his experience at an Auschwitz concentration camp to find meaning in all forms of existence. Frankl mentions the Greek word, eudaimonea, which refers to a state of having a good indwelling spirit or being in a contented state of being healthy, happy and prosperous. In the face of adversity, it’s remarkable how Bosnians did not let the war define them, and how their resiliency is what allowed their country- and it’s spirit to remain intact.