La version française est en cours de traduction. Merci de votre patience.
After the waterfalls, the pace eases a little. He remains a torrent of information and personal stories but he includes sites and topics that are not directly related to the war. This drive takes us to Pocitelj, a beautiful 15th Century village built in a steep rocky natural amphitheater along the river. We ran in all directions using a sophisticated maze of steep timeworn stairways climbing between stone-roofed houses and pomegranate bushes. He timed it just right: we are standing on the highest rampart, the village and the meandering river at our feet, as the sun sets behind the hill. It is stupendous. Bata leaves no detail to chance!
As dusk sets in and the sky lights up in a rainbow of intense colors, he announces that he has a surprise for us. He looks every bit as excited as us: he gives us a quick lesson on Bosnian etiquette and takes us to his friend Sevda’s home.
After the war, when Sevda returned to the home that had been in her family for generations, it was mostly destroyed. She put a tent up and started rebuilding the patrimony one stone at a time. Bata met her during one of his early tours: the rain started and his backpackers were about to get drenched. Sevda opened her door and waived for them to come in. In the usual Bosnian hospitality fashion, she offered them beverages and foods. Judging by the enjoyment on all the faces, Bata realized that this was the exact cultural touch that his tour needed and ever since then, he has brought every group to Sevda’s home. As Mike and I are bidding her farewell – complete with a kiss on the cheek — a conversation starts and it lasts long enough that when we get out of her door, the only thing greeting us is the dark Bosnian night. It is completely black! Not one single light in sight. And our group has vanished! I turn back to Sevda with a startled look and she just laughs! This eighty plus year old grabs my arm and practically runs the ¼ mile that separates us from Bella, parked at the top of the hill. A pure delight!
And just when we think, now, really, the tour IS over, it is late… Bata makes another stop. We are privileged to go to Blagaj, the Dervish Monastery, an important monument of the early Ottoman period in Bosnia i Herzegovina. It is a place where, by special ritual, the dervishes performed – and still perform today – Zikr (praising God). By now it’s dark. Bata instructs us to kneel by the river, scoop up some water with our hands and drink it as we make a wish.
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