on a Trip to Travnik


On my way to Travnik, I was hoping for snow and clean air. As we passed cabbage fields, largely demolished but for a few spoiled heads of cabbage, I saw snow only in the high peaks.  The many cabbage fields were strangely beautiful, in the vast expanses of dirt and green cabbages.  Near each gleaned field were stands of cabbages bundled in bags, being sold.  I suspect these cabbages will end up as pickled cabbages, for sarma and other foods. 

In Travnik, surrounded by the green fields and rugged mountains, the only evidence of snow were a few patches of dirty ice lumps in the street.  The air wasn’t clear, either. The smog from the wood burning stoves fill the air. The streets were full of people, walking to shops, and enjoying a rare warm December day.

Saturday, too, was warm and sunny. Once the sun rose, the smog was less apparent, but still apparent. As I climbed up the hill to get some fresh air, I could see the thick wood smoke covering the city. But as the day wore on, the smog seemed to lift. Still, it is hard to breathe or feel healthy in this air. I spent the day walking up in the hills, and sitting near the river. I bypassed the smoke filled cafes. 

Of note are three things that I saw in the late afternoon, I recall best the young boy, about 10 perhaps, who was carrying firecrackers in his hand. he looked furtively around, and then put a lit firecracker on the corner, near a grate.  It popped as I passed.  He ran down the street, and placed another firecracker just as a car passed.  He disappeared but I could still hear the cracking of firecrackers. 

Then a wedding procession passed.  A line of cars honking, and most of them waving Croatian flags. Large ones.  There was certain tension. But then near the multi-colored mosque, there was a line of cars, with BiH flags. A number of people, mostly men, were gathered near the Mosque. It was funeral.  The line of men followed a casket up the steps and across the road. I turned back, and there was a wedding party ready to enter the mosque. A group of girls watched, hinting to the bride to fluff up her skirt. A man took photos with a simple point and shoot.  A shopkeeper stood there also, smiling. Across the street, the clerk in the cheese store also came out to watch.  There was a celebratory feeling in the air that was distinct from the emotion of the funeral. 




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