So I'm going to hijack this writing blog for a moment. I was tempted to sit you down and subject you to all 405 photos and 40 mini-movies of my time in Bosnia. I decided to keep it far, far shorter.
Mainly because I don't know how to load it all on Blogger.
Just to fill in the blanks, my dear friend Enesa is from a village in central Bosnia. This year, I went home with her and met her family.
I have so many memories and impressions:
The incredible generosity of the people. No one (except Enesa) ever laughed when I messed up in their language. Even when I told them I was eating with my butt (and not a fork).
Swimming in the river Krivaja behind Enesa's house. I'd never been swimming in a river before, and I'm still inordinately proud of the stone I plucked from the bottom (I'm guessing 10 feet down) when the guys dared me. Seriously. I brought it home with me.
Trying to dance one of the folk dances.
My amazement that strangers didn't try to kill me when they saw how poorly I danced.
The bus driver who tried to set me up with his son- only after asking Enesa if I had a university education. (This man with the kind face was the only matchmaking parent who asked about my education.)
Enesa's mom trying to feed me 1) whenever I looked hungry, 2) whenever I came into the kitchen, 3) whenever I had gone more than an hour without food, or 4) just whenever.
Enesa's father, without fail, changing the TV to an English-speaking channel whenever I sat down near the TV.
Enesa's sisters (Elvira and Azra) and cousins (Adnan, Selma and Dino) taking time to speak to me English.
The presents that neighbors brought me when they heard it was my birthday.
Of course, the war was there as well. I remember asking Enesa about warning signs I spotted along a remote road. They looked like the signs we put over gas or oil pipelines. They were for landmines.
I saw deserted, partially destroyed houses. Enesa said that probably the entire family that lived in the house had died. People whose houses were destroyed either rebuilt them or tore them down to remove reminders of the war. If a house hadn't been touched since the war, there probably wasn't a surviving family member left to touch it.
One day, we visited Mount Vlašić, the highest in the region, that had been held by Serb forces. It was so high you could see for tens of miles- great for recognizance and for shelling the lowlands. It was some of the most beautiful country I'd ever seen. Enesa told me about the fighting there, pointed out the scar where the artillery had been dug into the mountainside.
And then we realized we were standing in old trenches.
The picture is of me, standing near one of the trenches.* Vlašić is the bit of mountain to the left of the bush. That picture reminds me so much of my visit there: a breathtaking land, as lovely as the people I met, peppered with reminders of grief and loss.
I'm sure if I were less jet-lagged, (or less worn out by rants about the use of 'raging') I could tie my trip to some aspect of writing. Truth is, I traveled through so many stories there, I'm not sure I would know where to begin.
* No, I'm not saluting or anything- just trying to keep my hair out of my face.