Today Maggie and I had a few things to do: find the public library (for reasons I’ll share with you when we actually do find the correct one), get her cell phone fixed, buy tickets for a beer festival tomorrow, eat lunch, and see a futbol game (not particularly in that order). Knowing Russian and Cyrillic (Maggie’s fluent in Czech, which helps) has been most useful here thus far, but some words mean the same thing, some are different, and some mean many things. In Russian, biblioteka (or библиотека) means library and kniga (or книга) means book. In most Slavic languages these remain the same, but sometimes there is some overlap based on the context of the building (bookstore is something like knizhki magazine, knizhara, knizhkupestvi, etc., based on the language, but they all have the same basic root). We walked to what Google had told Maggie was a biblioteka, only to find out that it was, in fact, a bookstore (or perhaps a really small library with a book-story-ish window display) that was also, in fact, locked. The traipse there was pretty, though, and biblioteka one was tallied for the day. After this complicated language debacle, it seemed obvious that gelato was in order, so we opted for the dark chocolate option, which was sinfully delicious. A little bit of a Sarajevan second breakfast. We passed by a square where art tents were set up, and I swear I’m going to find a way to get this painting home, because it has stopped me in my tracks every day I’ve been here (the whole three of them, in fact). I shouldn’t even have to tell you which one, because if you know me you’ll be able to spot it immediately. Despite that, whoever guesses it gets a postcard anyway 🙂 I felt this next picture is obligatory because my shoes deserved one picture at least before they were no longer white (which happened later in the day). Also of note, I found a real-life Pixar Short from Bug’s Life Chess Man. And his well-dressed compadre. This is a Sarajevan Saturday: And we stopped for lunch, where I got fresh orange juice and a Bosnian sandwich. That’s something I do love about the rest of the world, their propensity for fresh-squeezed juices (I always miss that about my Colombian summer). Then we did find another library, though still not the correct one. This one was funded by the State of Qatar (let’s all say it together, kut-er with a gutteral-ish kut) and is among the most beautiful libraries I’ve seen. Its door, here: opens to an outdoor plaza, here: which looks upon an old Muslim city that is now a museum, part of it here: And so really you can see the beauty. (I’m going to need more than one, apparently, unless I can mix them all together) And then we were sitting for coffee and I saw this minaret poking from the hills beyond the city (forgive the picture, I didn’t have a long-range lens with me at the moment). In person, though, it’s beautiful, and it reminded me of the tower Rapunzel stays in, locked away by Gothel. I imagined Rapunzel up there, hiding from the world and hidden from the world, sitting on cushions of her hair (long, thick, beautiful Balkan hair) and watching the world pass by… and then I thought about how long Rapunzel was there. Did she see everything that happened, from her magical minaret purplemountainsmajesty home, in the broken Sarajevo nestled in the valley? Did she see the process of breaking, the shrapnel and suffocating starvation and Sad State of Affairs? Did she applaud its regrowth, its Life Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair splinter? What did Rapunzel see? Did she thank Mother Gothel for keeping her from that pain, or did she curse Mother Gothel from keeping her from that collective experience? After coffee we headed to the stadium for the game, a good mile-long walk (or more), upon which we found this wrought-iron gate (I feel like it was wrought from a poem, not iron), that reminded me of everything magical: We also passed a few gravesites. The first ones with the yellow house are the old pre-war burials and post-war burials, while the white ones are the ones from the war itself. One day I’ll go back and look closer, but something I did appreciate very much was the gravestones with indentures for real dirt and real flowers, genuine blossoms, instead of the plastic flower bouquets we bestow upon our dead (those plastic flowers always make me so sad). We finally reached the stadium, which happened to be the Olympic Stadium from the Sarajevan Olympics in 1984. It’s actually important, too, to note here the history of soccer in the Balkans. Until the war, the soccer team was known as the Yugoslavian National Soccer Team and composed of Croats, Slovenes, and Bosnians. After UN sanctions (Security Council Resolution 757), however, it was suspended from play from 1992 – 1994, after which it turned into the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia national team, which was really Serbians and Montenegrans. The Serbian national team is the one that was inherited under the former Yugoslavia’s spot by FIFA and UEFA, and each of the other countries now has their own as well. Outside they sold drinks, beer, and cevapi, which is a rolled beef sausage that is native to the Balkans. As well as your Friendly Neighborhood Riot Police. I lived with futbol in Colombia last summer during the World Cup and knew how crazy it gets, but I’ve never attended a professional match as a spectator- much less in a country with a futbol culture- but Maggie studies futbol violence and the link between futbol and violence, and so she provided everything I could possibly need to know. To the left are what the soccer world knows a the “ultras,” or the super-fans, who are known to be quite rambunctious and earned their own police and security detail. Flares and smoke bombs are entirely acceptable, and even quite encouraged. And they’re even used as projectiles to burn aesthetically-pleasing victory holes onto the field. The teams, naturally, keep playing. Once one flare is lit, everyone else has to light theirs, too, so everyone knows that they’re in the midst of The Biggest Fan In Sarajevo. Meanwhile, we met some lovely Bosnian friends who bought us salted pumpkin seeds, which were fun “Oh, Damn, I Already Ate All Of Them?!” snacks. Then we all had to hold up paper signs that had been taped to the back of our chairs and the stadium became a sea of Champions League cups instead of people. The FK Sarajevo team (the ones we were rooting for) had won the championship for the first time since 2007, so everyone naturally was quite excited. Then we all crumpled the papers into balls and threw them, too. I didn’t actually know that was going to occur or I would’ve gotten a shot of thousands, not of three 😉 Everyone was really hot and I know they didn’t mean to look like the KKK. At this point we were four goals to zero and the next part, which I won’t interrupt with words, was indicative of football culture and I promise I was safe the entire time and the riot police had it under control. See? It’s just football! Then they stormed the field, since it was the last game of the season. These are our friends. Kissing the ground is a natural reaction: Or dressing up and playing drums: Or drunkenly asking for a picture you’ll never get because I don’t know your contact information: But that’s ok. It’s football/futbol/soccer.