Friday, November 28, 2008

On Mostar

"We will fight until we die because we have no choice. We have nowhere else to go."

- I'm paraphrasing, but it's something one of the soldiers during the Mostar seige.

I'll be in Dubrovnik for five days. The ferry for Bari only leaves once a week in winter, and I lingered in Belgrade and Sarajevo a bit too long, I suppose. Oh well, Dubrovnik is warm and beautiful, and I probably wouldn't mind staying here for the rest of my life. After the cold of the Balkans, it's nice to see the clear blue sky reflected in the clear blue sea.

But this one's on Mostar.

I stayed there last night. I was curious about the town after I'd watched a documentary in Sarajevo about the siege in Moster. It was the craziest thing - in Sarajevo, Croats and Muslims were allies and fighting for their lives against the Serbs, and yet 100 kms to the south, the Croats were shelling the hell out of the Muslims in Mostar. It makes me wonder what the guys up in Sarajevo thought about it.

Mostar's much like Sarajevo, only the rebuilding isn't as far advanced. They've fixed up the Stari Most and the Old Town, but there are still abandoned buildings in the streets around the Old Town. It's a bit confronting to see the mortar holes and the bricked-up windows. And itćs uncomfortable to walk around taking photos of places where people died only fifteen years ago.

The Stari Most is sparkly and white. It's quite a dramatic sight, really - a perfect, slender stone arch across a picturesque mountain river. It's the kind of view that postcards are made from. And as a symbol of reunification and reconciliation, it's just about perfect. But it's a bit disappointing to actually walk across it. It's a bit short, with these bumpy stone slats in the ground to stop you from slipping. Not quite like the tourist shots.

But it's cold, windy and miserable on a winter's day. I'm glad I came to the coast instead. The bus drove along the coast as we wound our way south to Dubrovnik. And the scenary was breathtaking. What was it that my sister-in-law said about Croatia? Oh yes, it's like the Mediterrenean as it once was...

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