The Nature of Bosnia
Last month I took a road-trip with my family through the Balkans. Driving through the mountains of Bosnia was incredible. I’ve been on some pretty adventurous road trips in my lifetime, but the scenery, nature, and atmosphere of the Bosnian wilderness was something else. The flowing mountain streams were crystal-clear cerulean, and the hilltops alternated between lush and rocky. The beauty of Bosnia’s nature was definitely not conventional. It was authentic, it was crazy, it was impressive, it was exciting, it was wild. In theory, it could compare to a mountain scene in Switzerland, Germany, or Austria…but in reality, the disorder —the chaos – told us otherwise. I suppose I learned that nature reflects its inhabitants; it reflects the mentality of its settlers, its people, and its nation.
I think the nature of a place attracts like-minded people
These forests might host the same type of trees, but they definitely could not be German. These village roads are paved the same as any Austrian ones, but this soil could only be Bosnian. I think the nature of a place attracts like-minded people. It’s not the sea that makes a Mediterranean dweller relaxed, slow-paced, and laid-back. But rather, it is the nature of the sea that compliments the temperament of its resident. And just as well, it is not the occupier of the land that dictates its structure. The villages are not more rocky, rough and rugged here because their owners misuse the land, but because these are hard, driven, tough people, the only kind who would be able to survive—and flock to—these conditions.
Symbols of Pride
Trading the main “European” highway for a windy, beaten road led us into the “real” Bosnia and Herzegovina. We didn’t need to see any people to feel that the tension was palpable as ever. Mosque after mosque, stood next to Catholic church across from Orthodox church never too far from more mosques. These are symbols of pride…of a whole-hearted sense of “being.” These diverse citizens are living and dying together in each village. Dark gravestones boast for their residents with spite in a yard where not a single cross can be found. On the other side of a fence, shiny memorials host a cross as tall as the eye can see, clearly competing with its neighboring prayer tower.
Bullet holes and shrapnel damage pierce the sides of old barns, and houses standing idly, and ones fully occupational. Forgiveness is what’s missing here. It is one thing to read about the history of this region, and it is entirely different to see it…to feel it through the foggy glass of a car window. The emotion is tangible.
Forgiveness is what’s missing here.
Four young girls stood on the side of a busy road that curved around the tallest mountain. They were selling hand-picked raspberries. We chose our selection and one of the girls ran across the street to ask a neighbor if she could wash the berries in their garden for us. She was from another village and didn’t want us to wait too long for her to go wash them in her own garden. They were the best raspberries I’ve ever tasted.