Bosnia Journals

By: bienesrobados

Nov 23 2010

Category: Uncategorized

1 Comment

Focal Length:50mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D700

Our bus winds along a two lane road, the asphalt ahead gilded by the light of the sinking sun.  To our right a river runs parallel to the road, October brown cornfields growing on its banks.  A few houses dot the densely wooded hillsides.  Next to one house a plump cow grazes in a field; at another a young man churns a cement mixer by hand, smoking a cigarette and gazing across the darkening waters.  As we draw closer to our destination, Jajce, a small town between Zagreb and Sarajevo, the river broadens and carves a deep canyon. The gentle rocking of the bus is rhythmic, hypnotic, and I feel my eyelids drooping.

The bus to Mostar is old. It creaks and groans as the engine rumbles, laboring to crest the rolling hills. The grass here is silver-brown with dense thickets of brush, greens and browns punctuated here and there with red and gold. The husks of bombed out buildings are scattered along the roadside. They remind me of the sloughed exoskeletons of potato bugs I used to find in the garden as a child; hollowed of life and purpose, windows broken and roofs caved in like a shattered skull. Even in towns these ghost structures stand alongside brightly painted new homes, a reminder of past violence.

We’re in Bugojno, a town that looks as bust-broke as a an old gambler boarding a bus in Reno, Nevada. Stray dogs roam the street, nosing refuse around the overflowing dumpsters. Our connecting bus doesn’t arrive for 4 hours and the man at the station suggested via hand signs that we hitchhike. After thumbing by the roadside for a half hour we head into town for a beer and dinner.  The downtown area is nearly deserted, a few school kids chatting and smoking next to a gymnasium. Behind a black iron gate a few men sit under umbrellas at an outdoor cafe, smoking cigarettes and drinking tall beers. We enter hesitantly to silence and stares. A waiter appears and we order two Sarajevsko beers. In the back of the cafe an old man sits alone.  With his thick head of white hair, wire rimmed glasses, and worn green sweater he looks like an out of work college professor or a lawyer. When Paige passes him on her way back from the bathroom, he stops her and talks to her in Croatian, speaking rapidly, gesturing and smiling. Paige shrugs her shoulders, “I don’t understand. Sorry.” he continues talking and nodding as she returns to her seat. A few minutes later the waiter comes  to our table with two more large beers. He gestures to the old man in back who smiles at us and nods. Paige eyes me. “Well” she says, “I guess we’re going to get drunk.”

One comment on “Bosnia Journals”

  1. More more I say!

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