In Mostar, there are many layers to the landscape of human inhabitation. We will start with primary layer, the café table. On the café table are always a number of items. First, the small table is clear but for a large ashtray. Then a group of people approach, and quickly, there are cell phones, and cigarette packs and lighters. Then bit by bit, the tabletop is covered by espresso cups, water glasses, perhaps a juice or coca cola (a very popular drink) or tea.
The table quickly becomes veiled in cigarette smoke, which mixes and blends with the neighboring tables.
The rhythm of talk ebbs and flows around the table. Soon the tables become cluttered with cups, water glasses and beer glasses, and ash. Then just as suddenly, they are cleaned and replaced with a new set of people.
Another layer to the landscape of inhabitation is the litter that covers the ground. Bits of paper, crushed bottles, cigarette butts and so on clutter the corners of streets. There is a careless attitude to litter here.
The river, too, catches leftover bottles, papers, and occasional umbrella. The beautiful blue green water rushes over rocks, and in the froth are bits and scraps of human inhabitation.
The litter spills over from the public dumpsters, where everyone leaves their garbage. As the bins fill, the bags are also torn apart by people and cats. In addition to the usual vegetable peelings and such, people also throw out a large amount of clothing, and shoes.
At times, the alleys are full of overflowing garbage, which can stink. Perhaps the saddest thing that I have witnessed are Roma children, who not only beg but dig through the bins. I have seen these small children, perhaps, 5 or 6, climbing into these bins, searching for scraps or clothing. Others dig through looking for scraps to sell later.
Then, the alleys are clean, and the bins are empty.
In the mountains, the people put their garbage on the side of the roads. These bags, too, are soon torn apart by stray dogs and people in search of scraps. Then a pick up truck comes by and cleans up.
The final layer is the graffiti that covers certain buildings, mostly the remains from the Frontline, but also large walls near the Universities. These pieces of graffiti aren’t tags but often beautifully constructed paintings, or political comments. They are thoughtful, not careless pieces.
And beneath all these are the stone buildings of the Old Turkish city, which merge in tone, color and shape with the beautiful dry mountains surrounding the city. The cobblestones, the stone buildings all twist and turn into a marvelous inhabitation.