Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Don't Forget '93" - Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

As the bus approaches Mostar I am taken aback by the ruins that remain. Evidence of a war that left this beautiful countryside, and it's people, scarred. It's difficult to explain, but in the eerie quiet that accompanies nightfall, I can feel  the history. Luckily, the hostel that I am staying at turns out to be more of a guesthouse than a dorm-style hostel and the owner, Miran as well as his wife, Mia, are very gracious and spend a good amount of time answering my questions about the impact they and their families felt by the war and the aftermath. Miran inherited the building that is now the hostel from his grandfather who died in 1993 during the war. After the old bridge was re-built in 2004 Miran opened the hostel to accommodate the influx of travelers and tourists to the city. Ninety-five percent of Mostar was destroyed during the fighting, Miran explains. As I walk through the streets of Mostar it is clear that while much has been rebuilt, it will be a while before this city is whole again.

The atmosphere is not depressing instead I find it heavy. It feels as if there is a weight over the city that has yet to lift. There is destruction around every corner, a reminder of the violence that once tore this city in two and yet the people are resilient. They accept the past and, like the reconstruction of the buildings, are working everyday to restore life in Mostar. It's a beautiful place with beautiful people.

The reconstruction of Stari Most, the Old Bridge in July 2004 was a huge accomplishment. It is, by far, the most important landmark in the area. The original was built in the 16th century during the Ottoman Empire and was destroyed in November 1993. The bridge is great, the stone walkway leading up to it is, uncomfortable. Beautiful, but difficult to walk on. It hurt my feet.
Looks cool but is uncomfortable

Stari Most
Walking across the bridge
I arrived in Mostar at a very interesting time during my trip. I haven't yet been able to process the recent death that has shaken me and my fellow Bonderman's to the core. As I explored the city of Mostar I am again shaken while walking through one (of the many) cemeteries. I am caught off guard by how young so many  (mainly men) were my age or younger when they passed away. Suddenly, the emotions of this along with other thoughts and feelings I've been ignoring catch up with me. For a moment, I allow myself to just feel it all.

And then the moment passes.

I am now in Sarajevo after my first time on a train since Bangkok! I know I skipped over Dubrovnik and I apologize but onward and upward and all that jazz.

1 comment:

  1. Hey girl, I'm glad you are finding your way through some of the most thought-provoking places in the Balkans. I will be interested to hear your thoughts about Sarajevo and Serbia. Miss you the mostest. Love, love, love!