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  • Day16

    Mostar: Cultural Crossings

    June 13, 2019 in Bosnia and Herzegovina ⋅ 🌫 82 °F

    In Mostar, we continued learning about the three ethnicities and cultures that lived together peacefully for centuries until the wars of the 1990s that were driven by politicians who used the religious and cultural differences to promote their agendas. Today our guide Adisa took us on a walking tour of the city. Like the villages we visited yesterday, this city was 90% destroyed in the war, but is rebuilding. You see bombed out buildings next to newly reconstructed hotels. Adisa too had stories about living in Mostar as a teenager during the war, walking five miles to the hills at night to ask at each house for food because it wasn't safe during the day. Her brother was turned over to the Croats and put in a concentration camp by his childhood friend.
    The most iconic feature in Mostar is the beautiful Stari Most, or Old Bridge. The original bridge, built in 427, was another casualty of war. The original stones were retrieved from the river and the bridge was reconstructed with assistance from UNESCO and the international community. It reopened in 2008.
    We were able to visit a mosque that had been restored, and a traditional 16th century Turkish house that was mostly unharmed from the grenades. Of course, we enjoyed more coffee, tea and Turkish Delight sweets in the peaceful courtyard. On the way from the city of Mostar, we stopped at a Serbian Orthodox monastery. Although there has been a monastery here for 400 years, the last one was destroyed, so the existing one was reconstructed, using as much of the original stone as possible. A young monk explained the history of the chapel and the Orthodox service.
    As Americans, we read or heard about the wars in Bosnia, but seeing the results almost 30 years later and hearing personal stories helps to put in perspective how senseless it is. Adisa and Edin are near the ages of our girls, so it struck us what a different life they had. Our guide Darija, who is a little older, shared her perspective as well. Of course, she remembers that time, as a teenager in Zagreb. But her feeling is that it is time to stop talking about it so that today's young people will be able to look forward instead of past. One thing that all three share is a mistrust of all politicians! It did make me think about some of the political craziness happening in the USA right now.
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    Jaime Madrigal

    Haha! Nice.