Melinda has called me out! Before last week I hadn’t posted because my life is boring. I write, I read, I research! The last week has been much more eventful. I spent Sunday through Tuesday in Zvornik attempting to figure out what is going on there and from Thursday through today I had the pleasure of a visitor from Austria. The pictures from Ulli’s visit can be found here. I’ve included a few of Ulli’s pictures as well as more of mine. Most of the pictures are from our trip to Pocitelj, a well-reconstructed ottoman fortress town built to defend Hercegovina from invaders from the sea. The trip with Ulli went off without a hitch, with the minor exception of the Bosnian museums, which were closed for the holiday weekend (May Day). This is the second time I’ve tried to go to that museum, but I’ve been thwarted both times. They seem to be open for about 4 hours a day on days when most people can’t visit them.
My trip to Zvornik was much more interesting and challenging(pictures here). Zvornik is a fortress city on the Drina River, which now forms much of the border between Bosnia and Serbia. During the war in the early ‘90s, Zvornik was the location of a well-known ethnic cleansing operation carried out by some of the more infamous practitioners of the crime. My adventures in Zvornik had little to do with the cities recent history and much more to the difficult economic situation in which the city (and most of the region) now finds itself. Here are the highlights in chronological order:
1) Sharing the highway to Zvornik with livestock. Apparently Orthodox Easter is “let your cows, sheep and horses wander on the highway” day.
2) Staying in a “class B” hotel. I’m fairly certain that I was the only person staying in the hotel. It was in a great location on top of a hill overlooking the river. The non-functioning television and warm water weren’t so great. When I asked if there was a way to use the internet, the guy pulled the cord out of the back of the phone and informed me that I would pay 12 cents a “pulse”. I just had to “do what I usually do” to get on the internet. I’m guessing I was supposed to use a dialup connection no one has anymore.
3) The mobile phone “beep of death”. I’d loaded my pre-pay cell phone with plenty of cash so that I could keep in touch with Melinda and meet my contacts. Since I’m still in Bosnia, it shouldn’t cost me anything to receive calls. Imagine my surprise when after talking to Melinda for only 10 minutes I hear the beep that means my phone is out of cash. It turns out that my phone was connected to a tower in Serbia despite the fact that I was still in Bosnia. So, I was roaming. Lesson learned.
4) Trying to get work done on holidays. I found out too late that Orthodox is a four day holiday in Republika Srpska.
5) The old woman on the bus who told me her life story for 45 minutes before she realized that I’m a foreigner and only understood half of what she was telling me (partly because of the language and partly because of the engine noise from the bus). 45 minutes of answering her own questions. I tried to answer… but my answers didn’t seem to interest her.