Thursday, March 16, 2006

See here...

Cool photo diary of the days following the end of the war....

Okay, I love Sarajevo again.

See, ups and downs. I'm back up.

Straight away, I know what I'll miss most about Sarjajevo. This is the only major city, which calls itself a major city, that is in actuality a large village with big buildings. I will miss this. I will miss walking ten minutes out of the "city" and into the country. Look at these pictures and tell me I'm wrong. I dare you. I get to take Veli on daily walks through some of the most beautiful mountain valleys.

Oh! NYT did a story on Sarajevo just in the past few weeks. Still think you can access it without paying the blasted article retrieval fee.

Venting, with a capital V!

Okay, so I'm past the "I love Bosnia, and I see no wrong, blah, blah, blah." Actually, I'm trained in this kinda thing, so I know that adjusting to a new culture takes time, has its ups and downs. Well, two weeks ago was a definite "down." Everything pissed me off, including, I might add, Stuart and colleagues. About this, I say no more. No, I will say this. I know you people. I know where you live, and if an American tourist is thrown five feet into the air and crushed by a speeding Mercedes, I'm taking you all down.

Here's my vent. Forgive the grammar.

It’s funny, the longer I live, actually live, abroad the more American I become. I would hesitate in defining myself as a feminist in the U.S., but here…Suddenly, I have no problem saying, “I’m an American and a feminist! I won’t spend hours on my hair and make-up, and I walk my dog in my fluffy pajamas. Take that Sarajevo!” Actually, funny incident (or not so funny depending on how you see it). I suppose it would be no surprise if I told you that organized crime is huge here. And how does this effect me, you may be wondering? Fucking Mercedes and Audis (gangsta cars of choice) are always, always speeding through the old town. I have been nearly run over any number of times. No one speaks up because no one wants that particular gangs’ wrath to fall on his/her family. Well, thank God for my finely tuned sense of moral outrage. Actually, thank God that I’m American and can afford to have a set of brass balls. So, was walking Veli the other day when an Audi floors it past me (this is illegal, by the way, the old town is strictly pedestrian except for bakery delivery trucks). I barely manage to pull Vel out of the way, which makes me angry, but what really made me do my nut, was that fucking Audi actually hit an old man. This young shit gets out of his car, checks on the old man, and the old man actually pats this prat on the shoulder as if to say, “No worries.” Let me just preface the following by saying this: the fact that I’m an American has its advantages. Men will think twice before clubbing down and shooting an American. And, no, I would never be stupid enough to do this in America. Well, I see this and race up to the car yelling, “What the fuck were you thinking? There are mothers and children and old people walking here.” At this point, the shit (as he will forever remain) tries to make cutesy with Veli, “Oh, mali cuko, bla, bla,bla…” And I’m all like, “Do you hear me?” So, this other guy gets out of the car and says “Bitch.” Me: “Shut up. Get the fuck out of here. Yeah, you heard me.” They leave without further incident. After relaying this particular piece of news to the U.S. embassy security folks, I got a “Good for you, moron, but don’t do it again.” Apparently, another spirited American, a USAID employee, did something similar only to be chased down by the car owner with a lead pipe. Luckily, he got back to the USAID offices before the pipe did serious damage. But, my God. The organized crime people around here are something else. I sorely wish the Bosnian govt. (and the police force, the court system, etc…) got strong enough to diminish the importance these people have in this society.

Look at that face...

I've become positively gooey over this little alien monster who likes to eat other dogs' poop and muddy sticks. (I mean, really, poop and sticks?)

As promised...

Voila! Grace and Stu at New Year's and Budapest Pics.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I'm Ba-ack!

I have forasken you, my blog-reading public, for cozy slippers and lazy winter walks! Oh, and German MTV. I love my German MTV. I won't attempt to play total catch-up, but I'll post some pics. so ya'll can get a sense of our Sarajevo winter:)

20 minutes later...

Okay, screw this. Clearly, our dial-up connection is too pathetic to handle even ONE image upload. So sad. The next posting you'll see will be all the images I couldn't add here, so an overview....

1. Grace and Stu on the main walking street in Sarajevo. Sarajevo embraces the New Year like the States embrace Christmas. (Think less commercialization). A few weeks before New Year's Eve, the main walkway in Sarajevo sets out funky (and not in the hip sense) New Year's stalls, complete with body glitter, cheap noise makers, and wigs. As you can see (or will soon see), Stu and and Grace are sporting some very stylish (read, hideous) head-wear. This did not attract the least attention.

2. Budapest. Stu and I took the night train from Sarajevo to Budapest in February. Pretty, sprawling city. We loved our brush with the West--meaning, the variety of restaurants and department stores. We ate Hungarian goulash (sp?), sushi, yummy Belgian dishes and flirted with the possibility of Russian cuisine (other side of city. Too lazy to find it). I do love my Bosnian carbs, but I do miss the endless variety that I healthy tourist economy provides. Budapest delivers. And, even though we didn't go clothes shopping, it was nice to find department stores. In Sarajevo, it is difficult to find "regular" clothes. You either have boutiques (too expensive) or knock-offs. I want to be proved wrong! I've looked in the open market and the underground shopping mall (Skenderija) and the most I've found are stores that sell H&M odds and ends. Sometimes, I find stalls or small stores selling Levi's, but they have such a limited stock. Not their fault, though. It shows you how the Bosnian economy still struggles. Anyway, back to Budapest. It was a whirlwind trip, just a weekend, but we managed to fit in two trips to the baths. Much recommended! Especially the baths in the park. Can't remember which park or how to give directions, but any tour guide will mention it. So soothing. I wish I could talk more about the cultural life, but we really saw so little. It's worth another trip back, but our next destination is Istanbul, when we can put the money together, that is. P.S. Who said to me, "Oh my God, Budapest is more beautiful than Prague?" Hmm, hmmm? As lovely as the city was, I have to take issue. Prague is still tops in my book.