Monday 24 July 2023

Road trip in the Balkans - part 7

Either I need to listen better, or I need to think better of the latter day's discussions, because I ended up on a gravel road again. After turning my bike around twice on a narrow hilly dirt track, I decided enough was enough and drove back to Gorazde. There was a point in leaving early. It's cooler.

Let's talk about that. It was nice and cool in Gorazde that morning. That never happened before on this trip. It was always already - or still - warm or even hot. But that morning in Gorazde was quite refreshing. Until that time when I started sweating over the dirt trail, and especially those two times, when I had to turn my bike around.

In my memories from the evening before, Demir told me about this road, that it's a very small road that goes over the mountain. But I didn't think he said it's a dirt track. He thought I should be able to manage it with my bike. So what a wonder, when on my final attempt, I went up the hill further into the road, the road gets narrower still, and the trees engulf more and more of the passage. No that can't be it. That's not what he meant.


In fact, like always, when I end up in situations like this, it's because I failed to notice that I missed a turn. Bloody hell, I even thought I clearly saw the track go left at that particular junction. But maybe it was just the shortest road. I seem to remember they told me not to follow Google Maps. But without it, I'm even more lost.

That said, yesterday evening I went to Lejla's place in Gorazde. Lejla is a dear friend of Nicole's who is a friend's sister. Once we went with Daniel to his sister's place, and there were about ten people baking christmas cookies together (there's another blog article about this here and here). That's how I got introduced to Lejla, who lives in Gorazde, in an Bosnian enclave surrounded by the Serbian Republic. During the war between 91 and 95, Serbians would shoot people on the bridge, so the people from Gorazde built a foot passerelle under the actual bridge, thus providing protection when they crossed the river.

Messages of goodwill from all over the world

We talked about this and many other things, during our short night out with Mimica and Demir, Lejla's friends who also know Nicole. Also about how Bosnia is mostly the wooden parts in the mountains, and Herzegovina is the deforested parts towards the sea and how much Bosnia i Herzegovina has wood and water and is a rich country in that way. And also how the people care about what they offer there guests in terms of food and drinks and more.

Dynamo powered radio box

After that fearsome hour of dirt track riding, I got a fresh start over Rogatica and Podromanija to reach Sarajevo. I was sweaty again by that time, with all the efforts of not falling. Falling could be fatal, because there really aren't many people about in these parts. Falling all alone, I could be stuck under or break something or some other stupid injury. Then what ? So I gave it my best and stayed upright, even if I got a little scared a couple of times.

Original house of the war tunnel

The big road was quite eventless, but also very beautiful. It passes through some deep canyons, through foresty hills, along rivers. It's a major beauty.

War tunnel reconstruction, the original one is not safe to visit

In Sarajevo I visited the museum of war crimes against humanity and genocide and the war tunnel museum. The latter was excellent and the first was quite depressing, but nonetheless worth a visit. But whilst writing this, I still remember the dip in the lake in that hotel on the main road. I can't even hear the road from the room, which gives to the lake. The tunnel was built when Sarajevo was besieged by the Serbian armed forces. The only way out to Bosnian free territory, was over the airfield, which was later controlled by UN forces with an agreement not to let people go through. Serbians would shoot at anything moving on the 450 meter wide strip. So they built this tunnel that went under the airstrip to bring provisions, medicine and many other things for the people of Sarajevo.

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