I follow my GPS to our Mostar hostel into a narrow dead-end street. The farther I go the worse the houses look. By the time I find No 3, I am worried: there are piles of garbage in front of the gate. I peek through the holes in the old rusted metal fence: rubbish on the other side too.
I call the Manager. A friendly voice. He is coming immediately. I keep my fingers crossed that nobody comes through THAT gate! A few moments pass and nothing happens. Relieved, I ride back to the main street to find Mike. Eventually a huge friendly smile attached to an even friendlier bear of a man comes running in our direction: Jasmin has arrived. For once I am delighted that the GPS is wrong!
Jasmin is a bit of a phenomenon to us because although he doesn’t speak much English at all, he immediately indicates that he wants to take care of us! As we try to pay, he motions “No. Later. You good people.” He not only gives us a map, he marks it very carefully with the amount of time it will take us to walk places. By the time he leaves, we know he is married and has two children with a third one on the way.
It is nighttime and we need to go eat. When we come out, we find him in the street and realize he has been waiting to take us to the town center. Now? At 9PM? We convince him we are fine and that he should go home to his family. He looks halfway between relieved and disappointed!
We stay five days in Mostar and every morning Jasmin checks on us. He uses his phone to get into in-depth conversations with us via GoogleTranslate. I love watching him and Mike. They look like typical overgrown teenagers: near each other yet not physically relating. They both type wildly on their phones, trade devices, and seconds later they burst into laughter. And I still have no idea what has been “said”!
Jasmin insists on taking us out for breakfast before we leave. Oh my, we think: we are going to have to drink alcohol at 10AM again and then jump on our bikes: sharing raki is the way of friendship in these parts of the world and we have no intention of refusing our new friend this pleasure. With our bikes fully loaded we follow him to a restaurant on the edge of town. We sit down and, while longing for our morning coffee, order two beers leaving Jasmin in charge of the raki and the typical Bosnian breakfast.
I wonder if Jasmin noticed the shock on our faces when the waitress brought him the big cup of coffee he had ordered!