Arrived by train yesterday, to a smog filled city. Zenica is located in central BiH, right by the Bosna River. On one side is a beautiful park, with soccer stadium, and a shopping mall. On the other side is the old Turkish shopping street and market.
Today, it was foggy, and smoggy with a few hours of sun.
The train is amazing trip through the mountains, tunnels and bridges of BiH. Each car has 2 very narrow steps into the car, with 6 seat compartment. Despite the seat numbers, seating is first come, first served. The train was so crowded that by the time we left Sarajevo, people were standing in the aisles, and not to smoke and look out the window. Unlike the bus, there are few services per day, and the train is far less expensive than the bus. I sat in the first available compartment, with two locals and tow tourists, who were too busy playing craps on their phone to look at the scenery.
The train is efficient but if you don’t know the routine, then you will easily miss the train, or board the wrong train. I was lucky that the people in my compartment pointed me to the right train when we transferred at Sarajevo. there was only one train, but the sign was a folded wrinkled pice of paper on the door. I could only hope it was the right train. The conductor was not in sight as I boarded.
The cheap price also comes with the odor of cigarette smoke. Even though people smoke in the corridor, and many open the windows, the smoke is unavoidable.
The rhythm of the train is always soothing, and the rhythm of the trip was relaxing. While it might be more efficient to drive, it is more enlightening to take public mass transportation. To see how people interact in small spaces, and to undergo the same routine is one of the best ways to feel part of a culture.
In Zenica, the rhythm and energy is different. Of course, we are in the central part of the country, where it is cooler with different vegetation. No roses blooming here. There is the same heavy traffic, and cafes. However, there is the lovely park. And the soccer training center. Today, there was a game, with many people standing outside the stadium to watch.
In Zenica, there are numerous stray dogs, but many have been tagged. It is still sad to see so many beautiful dogs sleeping abandoned in the park. They look at you as you pass with those doleful puppy eyes. Many people pass them as if they were invisible.
In Zencia, there is heavy smog from the factories on the outskirts and wood smoke. It seeps into the hotel room. Walking to the outskirts, I pass junkyards and men pushing wheelbarrows with goods. The heavy smoke from the factories mixed with the fog until you only see a opaque glaze over the landscape.
In Zenica, there are also small forgotten parks, with various monuments to heroes, and abandoned water fountains.
In Zenica, I actually saw obit for Muslims, Catholics and Jews. There was a synagogue here, but it was turned into a museum. As everywhere, the obit are placed in prominent areas, but when you see certain obits ripped off and others neatly placed on the ripped obit, one wonders if there are political purposes to the placements. The same is true when you see the Orthodox Church with spikes along the top wall, and a rusted lock keeping anyone from entering. I could easily enter the courtyard to the Catholic church. As usual, I could hear the call to prayer throughout the day.
This is when I realize that I am still a tourist, even though I am here for six months.