I’m back! After trips to Rome, London and Sarajevo and a flu that just wouldn’t say goodbye, I’ve been a wee bit busy. Lots to say, but I’ll give this one in snippets because there is just so much.
Rome was the most beautiful city I have ever been in. Paris is beautiful, sure, but Rome has a special charm. Every two steps, just when you think there can’t possibly be anything else to see, you are faced with an architectural or sculptive feat that you can’t help but comparing to those more fragile ones of today. (We won’t talk about the money and slave labour that went into building this city.) The Vatican, well, that was such a spiritual visit that I don’t think I could do justice to what my soul felt that day. The best part is that we experienced it as a family, as a couple, and we’ve made memories that will last a lifetime.
London was next. I flew there just for a few days for a literary festival my university was putting on. I figured, why not? I’m in the (semi) vicinity and it would be great to see London. So there I sat, on the Big Red (open-topped) bus for 5 hours in the rain and cold, determined to see the city during the only free day I had. I’m still glad I did this, but that evening I began to feel sick. The next day, the day I went to Middlesex, I was really sick. An hour after I met my professor I was heaving into the porcelain throne at my hotel room, where I stayed for almost a full day.
That stomach bug lasted a few more days and was still lingering when we went on a road trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia, for the weekend 2 days later. To tell the truth, if I was still in Canada and had never been to the Balkans, I would have laughed at the idea of visiting Bosnia. I knew what Bosnia was. It is where a war was. It was where my friends’ husbands were deployed in the 90s. I remember reading about the dangers our soldiers and the people of Bosnia faced. Go THERE? Never.
Flash forward to a few days ago. We drove up and I was pleasantly surprised. If anything, the infrastructure seemed better developed than the infrastructure in Serbia. It was cleaner, fresher, than Belgrade but I’ve learned this is because humanitarian aid after the siege of Sarajevo has helped to rebuild the area. The money definitely was put to good use. That said, there are many buildings still pocketed with bullet holes. We learned that any building in which 5 or more people were killed will remain as is, unfixed, as a sobering reminder of the atrocity of war.
We took our girls through the Tunnel of Hope, a tunnel made by a group of Sarajevan men to ensure the continuing supply of food and provisions to their fellow countrymen during the 3 year period Sarajevo was surrounded by Serbian forces. Locals believe the tunnel is the only reason Sarajevo was able to withstand the siege as long as it had. There is a significant possibility the tunnel saved the people of Sarajevo. (If I have anything incorrect, please know that this is information gleaned from the tour and talks with locals. I highly reccomend researching this yourselves.) We also took our girls to the War Childhood Museum, where we all had a good reminder of how lucky we are. Rebekah even wanted a book from the gift shop that told the stories of children of war. She’s been reading it for days.
Lastly, and unrelated to my trips, I have to say that most days I feel like the most inadequate writer on the planet. My classmates are much more eloquent than I am and I usually can’t help but feeling like the donkey among them. When I posted my story the other day I did not expect feedback or accolade or anything. It’s an ok story, but it was my favourite of late only because Grover Gardner read it for me, and that in itself gave me hope that one day I can be good, if not great writer. So I was surprised to get several private messages but, specifically, one from an old coworker who said she enjoyed it so much she wished it was longer. Not going to lie, it almost made me cry because I never feel I am on the right track. But her email made me feel that maybe, just maybe, I am on my way. Thanks for that, Mary.
Until next time, thanks for reading!😊
(I’ll attach more pictures when I have a better connection.)