The recent war, and the ethnic and religious divisions were easier to understand than in Lebanon, but still very confusing. In Bosnia, “Muslim” is an ethnicity, not just a religion. And when Bosnian Serbs (who aren’t Serbians, just Serbs) are telling jokes about “Bosnians’, they really mean Muslims, not just any Bosnian. Those are just a couple of examples of how people divvy themselves up round here.
Sarajevans are proud that they have Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues all in the same neighborhoods. I’ve even found out by reading a new magazine that some feel that Sarajevo is the “Jerusalem of Europe”
Bosnia was also the furthest west that the Ottomans (~Turks) made it, so its the last place we saw Mosques as we headed West, and it’s a historical boundary between the two civilizations. And it’s the boundary between the Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity. Depending on how you see history, you could argue that it’s all gone down right here.
This bridge(The Stari Most) is really famous—unfortunately, the real centuries-old one was destroyed in the war, but they rebuilt it almost exactly the same way, and super dare-devil guys have kept up the tradition of diving off the bridge for money that tourists give them.
Learning about how Sarajevans survived being trapped in their city for several years in the 90’s, and then checking out the tunnel they built under the airport to gets supplies into the city from the neighboring hills, we were beginning to think that the Serbs (the guys who were the biggest villains of the war) were really horrible people.
One night roasting chestnuts and playing Balkan folks songs on guitar by the fire, another evening watching movies about squatters at a local activist center, we got to meet lots of interesting folks.
And couchsurfing also got us in touch with Gospodar, who showed us around town, and Tiho, who took us on a beautiful hike up in the hills. Special thanks to Drazen as well, who helped us a ton when we needed to mail a package home!
So what can we say about the “Bosnian Serbs”? Well, keeping in mind that most of the folks we hung out with were too young to have fought in the recent wars, they were really nice to us…but it also became clear through our conversations that things are still not cleared up 100%, and there are still bridges of understanding that must be established. One new Serb friend of ours wanted to marry a Muslim woman, but it just seemed too complicated so they turned their back on love—THAT’S NO GOOD!!!
Back to the here and now. As Navidad approaches,..we’ve got a plan—were movin to California!!! (SF bay area to be exact) I’m going to be working at Making Contact, a really great radio show based in Oakland. (I’m also looking for part time/freelance work, so anyone out there got some leads, holla).
Bottom line—the adventure continues for a little while longer. Whether we are ready or not, another cross-country drive is upon us. The planned route: from Tampa, to Atlanta, New Orleans, then somewhere in Texas, El Paso/Las Cruces/White Sands National Park, San Diego, and arriving in SF bay on new Years Eve. We making it quick this time, less than 2 weeks overall.
And a little professional promotion—click here for a radio story I did on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers—a group of immigrant tomato pickers who are campaigning to get a pay raise from burger King. They are the folks who led the taco bell boycott a few years ago—and they won–they are no joke.