The beautiful thing about meeting friends abroad is that they inevitably have more friends for you to meet, and you begin to network in the most incredible ways.
Ginny, the friend I met last week from Canada (I originally met her at a WorldMUN conference hosted by Harvard in Vancouver), had encountered a friend named Marije who was backpacking the area and who she thought I should meet. Marije in turn brought along two friends she had met, a native Sarajevan named Elma and a Californian named Natalie. (By this time, Ginny is back home in Canada, Natalie is in Greece, Elma is here in Sarajevo, and I’m not quite sure where Marije’s travels have taken her).
We all got coffee on Monday morning and had a wonderful time. Usually the travelers you meet are rather like-minded; they’re educated, intelligent, perceptive, and have a remarkable awareness of global affairs. With such people, conversations are never dull, and over Bosnian coffee- which is meant to be sipped slowly with a healthy side of conversation- we talked for over two hours about our careers, our ambitions, the difficulties of living in Bosnia as a young adult, the hope (and lack of it) there is for Bosnia, the roles and perceptions of women worldwide and in our home countries, and everything else imaginable.
I hope to meet up with Elma again before I leave, and I hope very much that I’ll see Natalie and Marije again someday.
Afterwards I popped into what used to be the city market (it’s located behind this building now), and found a vegan’s nightmare.
Eggs were sold at the front, and every other stall was stuffed with raw cuts of meat, smoked cuts of meat, and various cheeses. On my to-do list when I find the time is to research various Bosnian cheeses, because I’m not sure how to ask for a sample here but I want to know the distinct role of each in the Bosnian cuisine, if only to be able to explain to my Daddy, who is quite the chef (though he would quote Rachael Ray and say that he isn’t a chef, just a cook).
After leaving the market, I ran into a UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) event for World Refugee Day in front of the BBI Centar, a large shopping center here. Though the UN doesn’t have the massive presence here it once did, it still does maintain some sense of visibility in smaller operations. For many reasons (mostly valid) the people of Bosnia rather distrust and dislike the United Nations.
The Dayton Accords are the set of Annexes and peace agreement brokered by the USA to end the conflict in Bosnia. Though it was more of a military agreement, the people of Bosnia have taken it as their Constitution, and that adoption is arguably the root of many of their problems.
Afterwards it was off to classes (Monday is Balkan History). This is my series of faces when I realize Arnela has my camera:
This is the ordeal I must go through to get one cup of Earl Grey tea here (usually, Earl Grey is my thinking tea, and I drink buckets of it throughout the day). It’s also more expensive than your average cappuccino/latte/espresso, which is definitely not the case back home.
After class, Arnela, Merima, and I headed to have dinner at the Sarajevska Pivara. Sarajevska is the choice beer here (it’s nothing to write home about, though I suppose that’s exactly what I’m doing right now…), and the brewery is located across the river in the city itself. It’s the only walk-in-sit-down-and-order restaurant I’ve really been to here, and even for that it wasn’t so expensive. During the war, however, the Pivara was one of the only places that had access to water- during the siege, the water lines were cut and the city did not have water or electricity regularly for three years.
The lighting on the gate was unexpectedly fun, too, so we played with it for a bit.
And a last note: this bar is one of a few underground gay bars here. To be gay here is not acceptable, though to be lesbian is a little less damning than to be gay. Sometimes people ignore it, and other times they are not so nice. While some states in the Balkans have moved farther along in the acceptance of the LGBT community, it’s pretty safe to say that Bosnia is still lagging behind, which is sad to see.