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The Beauty of Bosnia


Some times a bus ride is just the thing. We have the blessing of time; no need to fly the short distance from Sarajevo to Belgrade. We had been staying at a remote mountain lodge as volunteers starting in mid July but both of us fell sick to different maladies, necessitating a move back down the mountain to Sarajevo.

We stayed until yesterday getting well, and both feeling much more up to par, we struck for Belgrade.

The bus travel was wonderful for random glimpses into the land and the people in their daily lives. Vignettes if you will, each a story, each a song to life and beauty, even if amongst the past devastation of terrible war. Some observations:

deep-green cool water forests, pristine and mysterious where wolves and lynx still live, the land mine warning signs are ubiquitous and they mean what they say, cold mountain springs flow clear and pure, we pass a man roasting a whole sheep beside the road while his neighbor mows hay with a scythe, his wife picks herbs in their dooryard. In a village there is a Mosque facing an Orthodox Church, karst cliffs soar above the creek bottom and the tops of old growth evergreens, while a Orthodox Church looks miniature atop a tall vertical limestone pinnacle, Zvornik Castle on Mt Mladevac sits 147 meters above the Drina River Valley, built in 1410 its watch towers resolute above it, Cyrillic signs amongst the Bosnian signs, turnspit dogs long short and lean. We pass corn cribs preserving the grain for fodder, yellow and purple plums beautiful and waiting to be made into Rakja, apple trees and lush gardens at every homestead. Higher, the fields and farms of alpine meadows keep hives and old conical haystacks, memories and random losses flood my mood as we flow through a land of beauty and pain; who, what, where, when, how? Gray and black collared crows and magpies no longer feast on the dead. The Sarajevo War Cemetery is a vast white paean to human resilience and inspires a story soon to come from this witnesses pen. Out of town, we see storks, herons and waterfowl in the cool, dark tributaries to the Drina. We will follow the broad, calm Drina all the way to Belgrade where it will merge with the Danube on its way to the Black Sea. In the flat agrarian plain crops of corn, potatoes, sunflowers, melons, berries and tobacco loll in the hot sun. After more than seven hours we reach Belgrade, find our digs and....sleep.

 

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