in the mountains


The last few days here in Bosnia and Herzegovina are rather bittersweet. So many things I have not had time to do, and so many things that I will miss like the food, the relaxed pace of life, the opportunity to do creative work and research.  There are, of course, things that I won’t miss such as the cigarette smoke, and haze of wood smoke.

So, one thing I hadn’t done is to take a trip to the mountains.  Due to the minefields that fill the the landscape, hiking is a rather dangerous business. But here, the hiking trails are cleared. This year there was little snow and when we arrived here in Babanovac, it was brown, muddy and cold. Overnight, there was a dusting of snow which changed the landscape.

The morning was beautiful, with a haze of fog covering the gentle sprinkle of snow. The afternoon is darker, with the sun low under the clouds that have covered the sky all day. The mood all over the village is relaxed. The many buildings here are under construction and the small houses that dot the mountainscape are half inhabited.  The paved roads splits into dirt roads, singular and rutted. The cafes on this Sunday are full of visitors and people drinking coffee and relaxing. We could see two young children riding horses.

The saddest thing, though, was the small puppy we could hear crying near a garbage bin. he was small, dark, and curled up, barely able to walk.  We stopped but didn’t know what to do. Another stray German Shepard seemed to be guarding the puppy but the puppy crawled in and out of a spare plastic bag.  The puppy was crying as if it were dying. Perhaps it was poisoned. It was a terrible thing to observe, and so common here. On my run, I was accompanied by a beautiful gentle Huskie, with the clear blue eyes who just wanted a friend. We saw at least 15 stray dogs, so beautiful, starving, alone, and cold.

The trip up from Travnik was amazing drive up the mountains past farms, and houses, on a twisting path to the top of the hill. The bus filled and slowly, one by one people disembarked. We did a detour to a small village, where a farmer asked the driver to mail a letter. We went back toward Babanovac, and walked down to the hotel, past a man selling cheese and honey.

Tomorrow, it is back to the mad rush to get ready to go back to the states.


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