Sourrounding Mostar are incredible mountains, including the Velež Mountains. This peak was named for the slavic god, veles. The god of cattle, god of underworld, and a bit of a trickster. This beautiful mountain can been seen everywhere in Mostar, as can the giant cross on the Dom hill. At the peak of these mountains, or even part way up the hill, you can see Mostar nestled like a toy village, with the orange tiled roof tops sprinkled across an otherwise rather dry and barren landscape. The mountains themselves are rocky, barren, but up close, in the mountains, you can see clumps of cypress trees, land of low grasses. Many mornings, I can hear cow bells and see large cows grazing in the fields. It is both beautiful and a bit eerie. When the wind blows, the air is clear and cool. The place is uninhabited but yet, full of energy.
(blurry photo from MP3 player)
No matter where you turn, there are these mountains. On foggy days, the cloud cover is so rich. The heavy fog hangs over each peak, shrouding each mountain peak. You can see why and how the nature would inspire such gods as Zeus, Veles and the like. Nature here is ever present and unstoppable.
The meaning of BiH is so complex, that perhaps only in nature is there is a unarguable definition of place.
This is also true in the United States. As I teach basic American culture, I find myself confronted by an understanding of America informed by television and film, and popular media. Certainly, within these narratives, are the basic tenets of America culture. While many in the states might bemoan our losses, our corruptions, our legacy of racism and so on, there is also the forgotten concept of the united states as an experiment, as the product of a revolution, a product of endless argument.
In a country without a protestant tradition, there is a challenge to explain the focus on the individual that ranges from religion to the influence of the native American tradition of equality and mobility. It is not religion, not language, but an acknowledgement and appreciation of the individual.
Still do I , even I an American, really understand what it means to be an American?