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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

from Jajce (sounds sort of like "yahtzee") in Bosnia-Herzogvina

I am sitting on the patio of our Jajce home, a rooming house here in Jajce. We have picked our locations partly by distances, leaving an approximately 3 hour drive between destinations.  It's hard to know from pictures and limited information what to expect, but I would say that, so far, we have done quite well.

Tomrrow we will head to Sarajevo, and then, a couple of days later, to Mostar. Those are the two locations in Bosnia with which I was at all familiar, and that, only because of reading about the war here in the 1990s.  I read a book, Zlata's Diary, which was quite well known at the time, written by a young girl who lived here during the war,  She's been called the Bosnian Ann Frank, and the comparison is apt.

The owners of the inn here are quite friendly, but speak hardly a word of English. It is helpful to us that their son and his family, wife and two daughters, as well as their daughter, are all here visiting. The family all left during the war, and just the parents returned. The son, Dino, and his family, live in Australia. Their girls were born there and speak just English. They were amazed that we spoke English!  Aisha, the older one, has been busily cleaning every available surface, tables, windows, walls, etc.  Her younger sister Elma is equally adorable.  They are about six and four, I'd guess, and their mom is pregnant. I asked her about family leave  in Australia. Everyone, working outside the home or not, gets at least the minimum wage, close to $500 American dollars a week. Wow. And she says Australians are jealous of countries like Sweden. 

I've been chatting with her for a while. Loring has been off on a hike. We both hiked up to the fortress that looms over the town this morning. And then we drove to the waterfalls and little mill buildings that are a few miles down the road, which is whaat you see in every picture about the town. It's a virtual Disneyland down there. There's a large hotel, and an amusement park/playground, plus horsecarts, bicyles built for two, etc. Hadn't known what to expect, so it's a good thing we didn't choose to stay there. Plus, it was pouring. So it's also a good thing that we didn't walk, as Loring had originally proposed. We didn't even get out of the car, but was able to get a good view of the falls/mills, etc from the car.

Returned here to the center of town, which is pretty small. There are a number of cafes and shops, but the shops have mostly been closed. They are for the most part aimed at locals, although there are a few souvenir stands. Just across from us is the central mosque, although there are several others in the town.

Shortly after we arrived yesterday, there was a loud honking of car horns from a procession of car, with some waving flags from the car windows. My first thought was that it was a political demonstration. But it was actually a wedding. Since then there have been a number of similar wedding processions.  And we watched the aftermath of a wedding at the mosque, right from our patio here.  In fact, here comes another one now. The first couple were interesting. Now it's getting kind of annoying.  Apparently, it is a fairly new tradition, does not date from before the war.

While I have been writing and chatting with the girls' mom, Loring has returned from his walk. He went way up the hill, saw another, outdoor wedding. Also walked by many buildings riddled with bullet holes. Our guess is that they restored and rebuilt the buildings here in the center of town, because we haven't noticed any around us, but didnt bother or have the funds to repair the farther out neighborhoods.

We've talked a bit with a variety of people about the war.  I'd read not to bring the subject up, that people didn't like to talk about it. But it hasn't been our experience; we've only talked about it when people brought it up. Dino's wife, the girls' mom ( I need to find out her name) said it was bad, but didn't go into details.  Mostly people have said that they left the country for that time period. Some have come back, others just come back in the summer to visit family.

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