I found myself further east than I had ever been. The glamour of the last three months on the Mediterranean was now a distant memory. This felt different. This felt real.
Growing up, my mother gave me a book to read called Zlata’s Diary. This book chronicled the daily life of a young girl in the war-torn city of Sarajevo for the duration of the Bosnian war. I read of the years of pain and suffering as both sides fought ferociously as an innocent civilian population suffered. At the time, this war and the girl’s story seemed so far away from my reality that it hardly seemed real. And now, here I was.
The scars of war are till very visible in both the buildings and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was in Mostar, a town only a scenic two-hour drive from the capital, Sarajevo. The town is surrounded by lush countryside with a picturesque river flowing through its heart. While otherwise idyllic, the natural beauty of this area is offset by the buildings riddled with bullet holes. On the outskirts of the city the graveyards lay silent, housing the thousands of who weren’t lucky enough to escape the fighting.
This scarred country left its mark on my psyche and my soul. I’ll never forget the uncountable crosses in the cemeteries marking individual tales of sadness. I’ll never forget the resilient nature of the old lady who opened her doors to me. I’ll never forget the natural beauty everywhere I looked. I’ll never forget the eerie feeling upon realising that there was a distinct absence of males who would have been of fighting age in the early 90’s. This was Bosnia and Herzegovina in all its raw beauty.