La version française est en cours de traduction. Merci de votre patience.
As I am sitting there, enjoying my conversation with a dozen of Majda’s Youth Hostel guests, I am reminded of my trip around the world when I too was 20. Suddenly I hear a loud gregarious voice outside “BACKPACKERS LET’S GO C’M’ON TAKE YOUR STUFF LET’S GO HA HA HA.” I waited three months, flew from Seattle to Geneva, rode my motorcycle 3000 km to Mostar to meet him: the man who gives a ten-hour tour focused on what really happened during the Bosnian War.
High energy and self described as completely crazy: meet Bata! Intense. Loud. Passionate. Forthright. Enthusiastic. Playful. Unapologetic. A force of nature.
Underneath it all, extraordinarily caring.
Mike and I raise our hands. He burst out laughing YOU SEE PEOPLE? THESE TWO THEY RAISED THEIR HANDS JUST LIKE THAT… SO THEY GET TO SIT IN THE BACK ON PLASTIC CHAIRS! And so it goes that the “old folks” spend the rest of the day tossed in every direction on unattached garden chairs, bracing themselves against windows, ceiling, floor and the seat in front of them. We definitely got the best spot!
Let me say from the outset: this blog is in no way a political exposé of the events that took place in Mostar. For starters, the history of this area is incredibly complicated. I did a lot of research and at first I couldn’t even understand what I was reading! But just to give a general reference: Mostar is known to be the most heavily bombed of any Bosnian cities during the 1992-1995 war following the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Unlike Sarajevo, the West never came to help.
Mostar’s Old Town was completely destroyed, including its architectural and spiritual heart, Stari Most, the Old Bridge, lovingly nicknamed GrandPa. This war was waged on civilians. From the surrounding hills and high buildings, snipers aimed at people indiscriminately; they filled truck tires with dynamite and rolled them down the hill into the homes of Bosniak families. The list of atrocities is endless and we are about to be exposed to the legacy it has left and how this legacy is shaping people’s lives today.
Filled to the rim, Bella IV (the van, also known as Bata’s girlfriend) enthusiastically joins the crazy Bosnian traffic. If the road is blocked, qu’à cela ne tienne, we will use the sidewalks. Nothing will stop us — we will swerve, weave, use one-way streets in reverse direction. We are with Bata. We are invincible!
Little do I know that I am just about to have the experience of a lifetime…
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