A Travellerspoint blog

The Halfway Mark

When did that happen?

It’s hard to believe but I’ve been on my Balkan adventure for just over five weeks and I have just over five weeks until I will be back in the United States. Some days the thought of leaving makes me terribly sad, other days (like this one when I’m feeling sick and all I want is to curl up in a ball in my bed back home) the next five weeks can’t go by fast enough. The days of being sad about leaving though drastically outnumber the others though, so I think that’s a good sign. As I was thinking about the halfway point I came up with a few lists (me make lists, crazy right) of the things that I miss about home and the things that I will miss about here when I leave here. So here they are, in no real particular order.

Things I Miss:

  • People – well duh, that kind of goes without saying, but this time abroad more than others I have found myself really missing people back home. I think it has a lot to do with how the small the group of us here is (since Laura left for camp last week, it’s just been Addie and I) and the challenges of crossing over from work friends to friends that actually hang out. Or it could be that this is the first time I’ve tried to maintain consistent contact with people back home. Through the wonders of Viber (if you don’t have it, you should download it) I’ve been able to keep up to date with the lives of everyone back home and maybe that has made the feeling of being distant greater than actually less. Whatever the reason though, I miss everyone back home a lot and am quite excited to be reunited with everyone.
  • Hot Sauce (particularly Jalapeño Tabasco) – For those who know me well, they know that hot sauce is basically its own food group in my diet. Sadly, Bosnia does not seem to be on a similar page. Food here is bland, there’s no getting around that. Every time I have ordered something supposedly spicy, I have been sorely disappointed. So one of the things I am most looking forward to upon returning home is having actual spice again.
  • Chai Tea – besides hot sauce, one of my other staple foods is tea, particularly chai. While Bosnia does have some good teas (I found a strawberry vanilla one that I will def be bringing home with me), it has zero chai.
  • Avocados – while Bosnia has just about every other produce under the sun available. Avocados seem to be the one exception. The few that I have found at specialty grocery stores are vastly overpriced and never look very good. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to wait until I get home to make guacamole.
  • Clothes Drier – while I know that like 90% of the world gets by without them, I will admit that I am a princess in this regard and really enjoying being able to dry my clothes. There’s just something nice about having your clothes be soft when you put them on and not having your jeans pretty much be able to stand up on their own as a result of having to air dry everything.
  • My closet – on a similar cloth theme, I miss my closet or more so just having options for what to wear. While I enjoy the simplicity that living out of a suitcase brings, it would be kind of nice to not be wearing one of the three outfits in every picture that is taken during this trip haha
  • Working Out – So I came to Bosnia this summer with the plan that one way I would explore the city was through running (not that I’m particularly good or anything, but it seemed like a good way to exercise and the scenery could be nice). However, I was quickly informed that people really don’t do that here. A small handful may go running in one of the city’s parks, but the vast majority of people do not. It is not common to see people jogging through the city and they all looked at me like I was crazy for thinking of it (which kind of makes sense; given traffic here, I probably would have died). I am looking forward to some quality time with the CSB weight room upon my return.
  • Hot Water on Demand – Again, I realize this is probably making me sound like a princess, but I miss being able to take a hot shower whenever I want. Also, waking up at 6:20 instead of my current 6:00 to turn on the hot water just sounds so much better (hey it’s the little things that count).

Things I Will Miss:

  • The Unknowness (not an actual word, I know) – I think the thing that I love most about being abroad is the novelty of it. I love the fact that everything seems new, that each weekend can be a new adventure, and that in the back of mind there’s a clocking ticking down which gives me an excuse to try and do everything because, when will I get the chance again. I will miss just going out and exploring and always finding something new and I will miss how simply things like deciding where to go for dinner can lead to an adventure.
  • Cafes – one thing I love about Bosnia is that it’s not weird at all to spend hours and hours sitting in a café enjoying the company of friends and doing it like every day. While in the US we may do this occasionally, it is definitely not an everyday thing. People are so time conscious and have so much they “have to get done” that things such as just sitting an enjoying a cup of coffee (or tea) doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.
  • Architecture – as a wannabe architect growing up I know I am going to miss the architecture of Sarajevo. While at first glance much of it is pretty nondescript apartment buildings, it all tells a story. Buildings aren’t just built with bullet holes and mortar blast marks. I’ll also miss the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman architecture of Old Town and the history that it evokes.
  • Mountains – the surroundings of Sarajevo are gorgeous. I can sit out on our balcony and on clear mornings see the tops of snow covered mountains. It’s a pretty big contrast to the flatness of South Dakota and Minnesota and I’ll miss it’s beauty when I leave.
  • Public Transportation (somewhat) – I already did an entry on how much I like the tram, so I won’t spend much time on this. But I really do love the local and intimate feel one gains about a city by using public transportation on a regular basis. I have a feeling the Link won’t quite give compare.
  • The People – I will miss my amazing co-workers who have taken me in, have opened up to me about their stories, and have shared their hopes and their fears for the future of this country. Who make fun of me regularly for things like eating sandwiches and working too hard. They are truly amazing individuals and I have already learned so much from them.

So there it is, my current list of what I miss and what I will miss. Who knows, maybe in the next five weeks, these things will become totally different. They’ve already changed a bit from the mental list I made three weeks in. But for now, they’re what I’m thinking and we’ll see what happens.

Posted by remullin 02:34 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (0)

Fourth of July

Being an American and Being Abroad

Happy 4th of July from Sarajevo! Or at least I feel like that's what I should be saying. To be honest, it doesn’t feel like much of a holiday as I sit here at work. Although I did wear blue and white to celebrate (me, wear red any time other than a Johnnie football game? Ha funny joke). But as I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed during breakfast this morning, it was clear that everyone back home was having a blast celebrating our great nation (Joetown Rocks looks like it was awesome, jealous of all of you). This got me thinking about past 4th of Julys, like the one I celebrated in the Toronto airport flying home from Ireland or the one I spent packing for my ridiculously early morning flight to Costa Rica. I realized that for me, the 4th of Julys that I remember are not the ones where we had big family barbeques and set off fireworks and I ran through the lawn (or beach, I vaguely remember a 4th of July from when I was like 5 celebrated on Redondo Beach with all the cousins. See Mom, I do remember some things from my ˝coma years˝) with sparklers trying to spell my name before it went out. Don't get me wrong, I had 4th of Julys like that and they were wonderful and great. But they're not the first ones that come to mind for me. So this subconscious focus on celebrating the awesomeness of America while abroad, and the realization that the chances are very high that over the next 20 years the majority of my 4th of Julys will be spent abroad (assuming things turn out as I currently foresee, but who knows maybe Truman camp’s commitment to ˝constructive confusion˝ will lead to something else), made me start thinking more.

  • If you can’t already tell, this has been a very reflective morning.

Why is it that I want to work as a representative of the US, a country that I need to (and do) love in order to do my job effectively, yet I jump at any chance I am given to get out of it? On the surface, it doesn’t really seem to make sense. You are constantly finding ways to leave a place that you want to someday work for and spend your time convince the rest of the world is great and really cares about the international community? Heck, as a Truman I already am somewhat bound in how I represent the Foundation and by extension the Federal Government. If it’s so great, why don’t you actually want to spend time there? Confusing? I think yes.

Yet it’s an important question to reflect on and what I’ve spent this morning thinking about. Not really sure what I’ve come up with, but I’m using this blog as a stream of consciousness session hoping that I can glean a few useful reflections by the time I am done (so you have been warned, don’t keep reading if you’re looking for fluidity or logical connections).
In my heart of hearts, I really love the US. I may not agree with all of our decisions both domestically and especially on foreign policy issues (no need to go into specifics though, I don’t want this post being used against me during my Senate hearing for Secretary of State 30 years from now – hey, a girl can dream, right?) but it is an amazing place.

As a US citizen I have opportunities that much of the world can only dream about. I benefitted from an amazing education (yes I went to private school, but I’ve heard public school kids still turn out pretty great), access to things like public libraries (despite what you say Mom about me having to buy every single book I’ve ever read), parks (Connor, you will particularly agree with this one), community programming, a healthcare system that while expensive at least was well supplied, knowledgeable and cared about its patients, and a feeling of security. We can trust in our government and know that while they sometimes can’t get anything done to save their lives (*cough House of Representatives *cough), we know there’s not going to be a military coup and the system will continue to function (seen the news on Egypt yet?). We have a say in our government and can make our voices heard (here’s my plug for voting - people around the world would and sometimes do kill in order to secure that right, as Americans we take it for granted, don’t). We are extremely fortunate.

Most importantly though, growing up in the US I had the opportunity to dream. From a young age we’re asked, ˝what do you want to be when you grow up? ˝. We’re given options and encouraged to try them. We’re taught to think critically and question, not just how to memorize and pass a test. We’re given the skills and experiences to aim high and shoot for the stars. People here in Bosnia aren’t, many of them aren’t taught to dream big or shoot for the stars. And even sadder, those that do, often times fall flat because the economy or society isn’t ready for them (a blog post on that will be coming as soon as I can figure out a way to articulate the situation here).

These are the things that at the end of the day make me love being an America and make me proud of my country. But again, okay if it’s so great, why do you want so badly to leave?

I think (and this can and undoubtedly will with time change) that I spend so much time being abroad and want to pursue a career abroad as my way of giving back for how amazingly fortunate I have been. In multiple political science classes I have taken we have explored the idea of the ˝ovarian lottery˝ or the fact that the chances of being lucky enough to be born in the US are incredibly small (Google is failing to tell me exactly how small, but take my word for it, we’re lucky). With this being said, it would be incredibly easy to just take all the advantages that I have been given by simply due to the fact that I had the lucky coincidence to be born in the States for granted and never give it a second thought.

But you all know me (and if you don’t I’m a little confused why are reading this blog, but thanks for your support) and you all know that I over think just about everything and spend a ridiculous amount of time pondering things (maybe I should have been a philosophy major). So when I examine all of the benefits I have, I realize I want to be able to use them to help those who we not as fortunate.
For me, that’s through working for the government. I want to use the resources available to the most powerful country in the world (say what you want about the rise of BRIC and everyone else, the US still remains the major hegemonic power currently) to help the rest of the world experience some of the many blessings that I have enjoyed as an American. I know lots of people disagree with this route and that’s fine. Government employment is not for everyone nor should it be. There are millions of ways to take the advantages we have been given and use them to give back. I see my amazing friends doing it all the time. But the point is that it is important to give back, in whatever way you deem fit.

So as you celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks, barbeques, family, and friends, I wish you a wonderful day. But I also ask that you remember the millions of individuals around the world that do not have the same opportunities and chances in life and ways that in your own life you might be able to help them. Remember the amazing things that the US stands for and take the day to enjoy being American. It’s a pretty awesome thing :)

Posted by remullin 03:03 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (0)

Falling in Love

Well I hadn't planned on this one

It's finally happened. While friends, classmates, and even my advisor (got to love how CSB/SJU fosters an environment where we become close enough with profs for them to give us dating advice) have joked about the fact that I will likely fall in love while I'm abroad, I have always rolled my eyes and laughed it off. After all, I'm only 21 and falling in love would just slow down my global adventuring activities. However, it has happened and while this is not exactly the ideal way I would choose to tell the world (surprise Mom and Dad, can't wait for you to meet him when you get here) I'm excited to say he's absolutely wonderful.

He's not quite what I expected, he's is shorter than I usually prefer, he's brunette (I normally go for blondes), and he isn't one to actually make concrete plans for us to see each other and instead we simply ˝see each other when we see each other˝. Despite all of this, when I look into his big brown eyes, I simply melt. I have found my summer love. His name is Buddy and he's a Sarajevo street dog  (So yeah, any of you that actually may have thought I had fallen in love with another person, you can breathe now haha)

Now side note before everyone freaks out and yells at me about the potential for rabies and how can I be stupid enough to pet a stray dog. I was not quite as much of an idiot (I would prefer animal lover) as everyone is probably thinking.

Sarajevo has a serious stray dog problem, it is estimated that over 11,000 stray dogs wander the streets. As a result, the city has launched a concerted effort to ensure that these dogs do not pose a danger to citizens. They routinely round up groups of stray dogs and local vets provide them with all of their shots, including rabies (see I did at least think about that before I pet him, small steps in the right direction), sterilize the dogs, do a general health test, and make sure they are okay to be released back on the streets. The way you know if a stray dog has passed this inspection is by a green ear tag they're outfitted with. Buddy, has an ear tag, with the recent date of his vaccines, so everyone calm down, I was not entirely stupid and did have some regard for my personal safety.

Anyways, back to Buddy. He's a street dog and I pretty much love him. He's mid-sized (his head is basically at the height of my mid-thigh), he's got shot hair that's a mixture of black and brown, he has an angular face, a big tail, huge paws, and eyes that make your heart melt. Overall, he's adorable.

I met Buddy my first full week in Sarajevo. Addie, Laura, and I had gone to a cafe near old town that people at Addie's work had raved about (I thought it was over-rated, overpriced, and the desserts were mediocre, but everyone else loved it so maybe I'm just too picky). We were leaving the BBI center (the one thing the cafe had going for it was great views of the city from the top of the center) and as I was walking, a stray dog came up to me and just looked at me. At first, I was a little freaked out. Most of the street dogs avoid people like the plague, never look at them, and just mind their own business, probably the result of routinely getting yelled at by people. Buddy though stopped right at next to me and just looked up. I had a momentary thought of ˝uh oh, is a stray dog about to bite me? Def should have gotten that rabies shot. Can't wait to tell Mom and Dad about this.˝ But then I noticed the tag on his ear (meaning he wasn't going to give me rabies, see I thought about it), noticed that he didn't seem threatening, he was just sitting there as if expectantly waiting, and decided to take a gamble. I reached out and lightly pet him on the head (yes, I realize this was dumb, but come on, it's me and a cute animal, what do you expect). Rather than biting my hand off, Buddy started wagging his tail. I figured I was safe. I stayed for a few minutes (Addie and Laura laughed and patiently waited for me), took a picture of my new ˝love˝, and headed home. Buddy followed us for a bit, which was adorable but also made me sad since I couldn't bring him home. I wasn’t too worried. Most of the stray dogs we've encountered have areas they like to stay within and we always go by the BBI. I figured I would see him soon.

We walked past the square the next day on our way to Old Town and I looked around for Buddy, no sign of him. ˝Hmm, sad day, but I'm sure I'll see him soon, ˝ I thought and kept going. Sadly this routine continued for weeks. Every time I walked to Old Town I would scan the areas around BBI and hope to see Buddy. I never did  Even Addie and Laura would look, but no one ever had any luck. I gave up on Buddy and assumed that I would never see him again.

Fast forward to this morning, I begin my fifth week in Sarajevo running late. We took a late train home from Mostar (blog on that to come later this week) last night and I was struggling this morning to get out the door (having to wait for the hot water heater to heat the water for my shower didn't help either). As I made the walk to the tram, I notice something on the corner. There's a new dog sitting there and he's looking right at me. As I continue walking towards the corner, the dog starts coming towards me. When we reach each, without a second of hesitation he puts his head under my hand. I know in an instant, it's Buddy. The same eyes, the same fur, the same size, the same look of ˝how dare you not pet me?˝. While all of this is happening though, I am still running late for work. But as I keep walking, so does Buddy. He walks the block with me to the tram station. Sits by my feet while we wait at the stoplight as traffic rushes past. Crosses at the crosswalk with me and sits and waits with me as I wait for the tram (as Laura put it ˝Is this real life or a Disney movie?˝)
My heart broke as I sprinted to the tram car and jumped on just as the doors slid shut (I kind of got distracted by Buddy's cuteness and didn't pay the closest attention when the tram arrived, oops, that could have made me really late for work). As I looked out the back window of the tram, Buddy was just sitting there looking after me, with his head cocked as if thinking ˝Wait, where are you going? You're supposed to love me and be my owner.˝

*This has all the making for a cheesy romantic movie, doesn't it? Boy sees girl, girl sees boy. Boy comes over. Girl is too scared to say anything. Girl finally does and they share a great moment. She leaves, expecting to see him again. But then he never calls and while heartbroken over it, she begins to forget and move on. Then when least expecting it, they meet again, after he has scoured the city looking for her (alright this part might be a stretch, but I'd like to think Buddy has been). If I could have kept up the whole Buddy being an actual boy thing that I started with going, this could have been great.

At this point, I don't know when or if I'll see Buddy again. I really hope I will. Addie and Laura agreed a couple weeks after our first meeting, that if I found Buddy again and he remembered me, I could bring him home. Looks like he does remember. And after telling them the story of this morning, they are entirely onboard for our new roommate. I doubt our land lord will be too plused though. At the very least, I hope I can find him again and give him some food. While supposedly in overall good health (at least based on his ear tag), he's clearly underfed and in need of some care. Regardless, I've found my love for the summer.

So what do you say Mom and Dad, can he become part of the family? Please, please, please!!

Posted by remullin 05:16 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (0)

Ohmom

A new addition to my international family

For those of you who don't know, which would probably be the majority, my roommates (Addie and Laura), Hannah (one of the other CSB interns who lives in Mostar), and I went to Croatia last weekend. Our original plan had been to go to Montenegro for the weekend. However, after struggling to figure out how to get there using public transportation, we decided to go to Dubrovnik, Croatia instead. However, at 10:00 the night before we were supposed to leave, we decided on a whim to visit the Croatian beach town of Makarska instead (never heard of? neither had we, but you should all go, it’s amazing) because Hannah had been told by work friends that it was cheaper and had better beaches. So with backpacks filled with beach attire and a very faint idea of where we were going, we set off for Makarska (by bus) Friday morning.

Since our plans for Makarska were so last minute and unsolidified (one of my favorite ways to travel in all honesty) we hadn't really figured out where we were going to stay once we got there. So after disembarking off the bus (after a long and cramped 7ish hours) we didn't really know where we were headed. However, we asked at the bus station recommendations on where to stay and were told to try the Makarska Youth Hostel and pointed in a vague direction down the street. We got about a block from the station and realized we had no idea where the hostel was but would just keep walking until we found something.

At that point someone (maybe Laura) pointed to a lodging sign half hidden in rose bushes advertising rooms. We decided we might as well check it out since we were there and because it said it had wifi (kind of a big deal to Hannah who doesn't have it in Mostar). So we walked up to what looked like just a typical Croatian house (yes, after 20 minutes of being there I was already enough of an expert to make comments on their architectural practices). As we awkwardly stood in the yard for a few moments trying to figure out which door to go to, a cute little old women stepped out and asked what we needed. We told her we were curious about getting a room and if we were in the right place. She smiled and waved us in. Instantly we knew the place was going to be great. The stairway was lined with drawings by her grandchildren and the place had a cozy, homey feel to it (basically because it was her home and she just rented out a few rooms on the second floor to tourists). We asked her if she had a place for four girls for the weekend and after convincing her that the four of us were okay sharing one room (it had a queen size bed, a pullout coach, and a cot) we were set with our lodging for Makarska. As she was helping us get settled into our room, she introduced herself to us as Ohmom (no idea how you actually spell it) and told us about what good timing we had in coming this weekend. She said her grandkids were arriving the next week and she probably would not have had room for us if we had come then. She then declared herself our Croatian grandma for our time there and with a smile left the room.

We didn't see a lot of Ohmom during our time in Makarska. We spent most of our time out at the beach or wandering around the town. But whenever we did see her, she would always check up on her ˝grandchildren˝, ask if needed anything, and give us a smile. On Sunday morning as we packed up to leave, we asked Ohmom if we could take a quick picture with her. She laughed and said of course. After the photo was taken, as we were standing in the front yard about to leave, Ohmom gave us a little talk. She warned us to be careful traveling home, to take care of each other, and to remember that the world isn't always a nice place to young girls traveling on their own. But what she also told us, was that we would forever be her grandchildren and that if our life journeys ever brought us back to Makarska (which I sincerely hope mine does, I loved it there) we would always have a place to stay and someone to look out for us. She gave us each a hug and sent us on our way.

While her words might not seem like a lot, the sincerity in which they were said conveyed enough. In just three days, Ohmom had opened her heart to us and we would forever have a ˝home˝ in Croatia if we ever needed it. The whole exchange caused me to do some reflecting.
It got me thinking about many of the amazing people I have met during my travels. The people, old enough to be my parents or grandparents, who had opened up their hearts to me throughout my travels.

I thought of The Guy Who Loves Us (if you haven't read my China blog that name will mean nothing to you) who adopted Sarita, Cindy and I as his own while we were in Beibei. He made sure we were well fed, even making dishes that weren't on the menu just for us because he thought we would like them. He celebrated with us as our Chinese improved to the point where we could actually begin to understand characters and respond to his questions with actual sentences. He acted like a dad when the Chinese boys would stare just a little too long or make some remark that we had no understanding of, but he did. He even teared up when we said our goodbyes after our last meal there. He took care of us for our four months there and created a place for us in his restaurant that felt like a home.

I thought of Evan's mom (another China blog character), who had never before met Westerners in her life, but invited Sarita, Dan, Guy, Bert, Luke, and I into her home. While we shared no common language we spent hours together eating and laughing and just enjoying being together. I reflected on when we got ready to leave and she made Evan translate to all of us that if we ever returned to Chengdu we were not allowed to stay at a hotel. We had to stay with her at the apartment and she would take care of us.

I thought of the amazing staff at Anjali - Ratnaboli, Aditi, Sudeshna, and all the others – who opened up their lives to a group of lost looking American college kids trying to film a documentary. Who made us as much chai tea as we could drink (it was SO GOOD) and fed us more cookies, and weird jelly filled powder sugar covered pastries (not our favorites) then we could eat. Who put up with us sleeping on the office floor when we got we so tired from lugging around tripods all over Kolkata. Who fought hospital guards for us, executed covert camera missions, and smuggled our tapes for us all because they believed in what we were trying to do. Who on our last night made all of us promised that we stay with them if we ever returned to Kolkata.

Overall, I thought of how lucky I am. How lucky I am to have been ˝adopted˝ by so many caring individuals around the world. Individuals who barely know me, who have no idea what I've done with my life so far, nor what I may do with it, but who despite that were willing to go out of their way to help me, to care for me, and to believe in me.

I have no idea if my travels will ever take me back to these amazing individuals who for a time became my family. Part of me hopes it does. Part of me envisions walking into the noodle shop of the Guy Who Loves Us and being able to ask him (in Chinese because hopefully I've actually learned it by then, if not, yay Google translate) if he remembers those three American girls from all those years ago and then sitting down to a delicious (and hopefully super spicy) bowl of noodles. Part of me hopes to return to Kolkata and sit around the Anjali office sipping tea and hearing about the incredible strides the women of Anajli have made in addressing mental healthcare in India. Another part of me though knows that chances are I will never see any of them again and is completely okay with that. People come into our lives at certain times for certain reasons and then often vanish forever, surviving only in our memories. They each played important roles in developing my love for their respective countries and in shaping my amazing experiences there. I will remember them, but it might be best if we do not meet again.

For now, I can't wait to see where my next new ˝family member˝ is going to be found.

Posted by remullin 07:11 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Sounds and Smells of Sarajevo

Random Ramblings

This is probably going to be a weird entry to translate from the thoughts in my heads to this actual post. So I give you forewarning now as a reader, that it is likely to be a lot of babbling that may or may not all make sense at the end (most likely not).
When I go to a place, one of the things that stick in my mind more than the sights or faces or anything like that is the sounds and smells. This probably sounds really strange, but it's just those things that when after your travel experience is over and your thousands of miles away again that when you hear or when you catch a faint scent of, brings you back to all of the memories of your trip. Or they are those things that when you think back on you can just almost hear in the back of your mind.

For example, in China I remember the smell right after it rained and more specifically the fact that it is the only place I've ever been where the smell after it rains is awful and not at all like that nice clean, fresh smell you think of (if you've ever been in Beibei or Beijing or really most places there you know what I mean).Or I think of the distinct sound of our sandals on the slick stone slabs that surrounded our classroom building or just how the halls of our dorm echoed when people walked up it.

In India, I remember the smell of the shop right to the right of our hotel that sold some sort of ˝sweet delicacy˝ that to me always smelled revolting, but was also the smell I equated with getting home after a long day of filming or just a day of being lost (never trust Becca Lais' sense of direction). I also remember the smell of freshly made chai tea at Anjali's that they served us no matter what and the sense it created of being welcome and embraced by the amazing individuals that worked there. Or I remember with a smirk the sound of never ending car horns that deafened us from the moment we stepped out of the Kolkata airport until we boarded our homeward bound flight. The sound that reminded us we were in an epicenter of human activity surrounded by literally millions of people.

But wow, that's a lot of ramblings about memories and places where I no longer am. This blog's supposed to be about Sarajevo,( that's what I told you at least) so I should probably get back to it. Hopefully my slight tangent helped you get a sense of what I'm talking about when I say sounds and smells.

Anyways, in Sarajevo there are a few distinct sounds that have come to make me smile whenever I hear them. One of them is this sound of pavers clinking against each other. Okay that barely captures the sound at all, but that's the closest I can get to with words. There is one maybe six foot by three foot patch of cement paving stones that I walk over every day on my way to work that have either come loose from the cement that was holding them to the ground, or water eroded the bottom of them or tree roots are growing or something. But regardless, every morning I walk across these stones and can hear the difference between the sound they create when stepped on and the sound of all of the stones around them. While it might be too early to tell, I think it will be my way of remembering me walk/tram ride to work every day which winds through neighborhoods, shopping sections, across a river, through a gorgeous park and down an old path locals call the jungle right to the foothills of the Sarajevo hills where my work place is (I could totally make that a song, ˝through the forest and over the stream , to join KULT we go. ˝Okay on second thought that probably would not be the best, the last thing Sarajevo needs is for people to acquaint it to another Jamestown fiasco). I have yet to make the walk without being astounded by how beautiful this place is, without even trying, and those pavers are kind of my reminder each morning to stop and take in the fact that I am lucky enough to call this place home for two months.

The other sound that makes me smile is that of horse hooves hitting pavement. Yeah, you're probably thinking, what? Why do you hear horse hooves on a regular basis in Sarajevo, aren't they supposed to be developed or something? Or you're thinking the exact opposite and thinking that horses fit perfectly into your vision of Sarajevo, to which I respond: News flash, Sarajevo is not some hick town stuck in the 1800's. It's a European capital and well adapted to the 21st century (minus the whole water shutting off for the whole city at midnight every night, but that's another story). I've grown kind of defense about this city even though I've only been here a little while (someone has to be since Bosnians are going to be the last people to have nice things to say about this place, they tend to just laugh at me when I say good things about the city).

Back to the point. . . horse hooves. Every day as I sit at my desk and slave away (or write blog posts and eat frozen yoghurt as I am currently doing), I can hear horse hooves hitting the pavement. I look out off the balcony and see cute little carriages rolling down the street on their way to the park (the one I walk through part of to get to work). There the horses pull carriages, which for 10KM will talk you through one of the most beautiful places in Sarajevo so you don't die of heat trying to walk through it on foot (blog entry about the park to come at some point, maybe, we'll see). Anyways, hearing the horse hooves reminds me of a couple of things. One, that I'm at work. But not that I'm just at work, that I'm at work with an incredible NGO working to change the lives of young people in Bosnian and who believe that despite all of its problems, there is hope for a brighter future for the country (which I think it pretty cool). It also though reminds me of how connected this city (and country) are with their past. Everywhere I look there are remnants and reminders of the past and in many cases the city takes pride in preserving them. After China and India, both of which seemed to be doing everything they could to bulldoze their past and throw up modern looking high rises in its place, is refreshing.

As for smells, the one smell that so far has stuck out to me is also similar to the pavers in the sense that I don't know how I can describe it in words. It's the smell of flowers, but not just like all flowers or anything. There is a very distinct flower that's in random places in the city that I've seen in either red or orange. I have no idea what type it is (we all know I kind of fail with plants, the only reason Sherman is still alive is because he requires like zero water or attention). Regardless though, it gives off one of the best smells ever, which is kind of weird for me to say since I'm not really a floral scent type of person, most of the time it just doesn't do it for me. However, the first time I walked through the park on the way home, I literally just stopped and spent like a minute breathing in. And what's cool is there not flowers you have to get close to to smell. Just walking by the park you can smell it. There's also a patch of them between the walk from our apartment to Old Town. I find it fitting that whenever I walk to or from the places that have come to have the biggest impact on my life here, work (basically the reason I had an excuse to come here) and Old Town (the area of Sarajevo I spend the majority of my free time), I get to smell them. If I ever smell them back home, I have no doubt my mind will instantly be transported back to memories of this place.

Well there's my random blog entry about the smells and sounds of Sarajevo. Not sure if it ended up making more sense or less by the end, but you maybe got a slight understanding (or you 're just think ˝all of the time sitting at a desk has finally driven Rach insane˝). Regardless, thanks for reading!

Posted by remullin 12:52 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Comments (0)

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