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The Agoraphobic Traveler

Lost on the Streets of Bosnia

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA | Wednesday, 14 May 2014 | Views [102] | Scholarship Entry

My cell phone is definitely not working. Surely there’s no need to panic. Mostar can’t be that big. I’ll find my friends eventually. Just try to stay calm. This little bookshop tucked in the corner looks peaceful. Flipping through postcards inside relaxes my heart. I fake a smile to the old woman at the counter.

The crashing noise from the television catches my eye. It is scenery of the city. Boom! The bridge explodes. Boom! The walls rupture, crumbling to the river. People run in the streets away from the guns. My jaw drops. Tears balance at the edge of my eyelids. I look again at the woman. She probably lived through this.

Who else saw war in this magnificent city? The man selling rugs? The waiter serving cevapi and crepes to tourists? There are herds of people, all moving slowly about the cobblestone pathways. The trinkets in the windows create a feeling of being in an ancient city. Each corner I search adds to the bleakness of my situation. I don’t know where the hotel is. I need to rest.

The historic blue-domed mosque looks empty and quiet. A man approaches me speaking Bosnian.

“Sorry, English,” I shrug.

He beams excitedly, trying to practice his limited vocabulary through small talk. “Come,” he points behind the mosque. “You must see the white stone rainbow! It is the most beautiful bridge in the world!” he animates with wide eyes.

Not believing him one bit, I smile and nod. As the trees clear from view I gasp in awe at the incandescent structure. Bosnia never ceases to amaze me with its hidden surprises – the world’s best chocolate, most beautiful bridge – it is Europe’s best kept secret. The bridge is the one I saw bombed on television, now reconstructed. It lights up the old town like a beacon of hope and peace. The fairytale village around the bridge is so picturesque you would hardly notice the war-torn streets and miles of gravestones lining the highways. They are like battle scars that add to the beauty of the city. It gives one courage to think of starting anew and rebuilding.

The man hands me a tiny book. “I always carry this. I want you to have it now. It will remind you to pray for the people of Bosnia, and to come back someday."

I hug the man then flip through the pages of my new pocket Qur’an. Now that I am making friends in Bosnia it feels safe to be lost.

“Heidi,” I hear my friends call to me as I walk away from the bridge. I sigh with relief yet with a hint of disappointment. Back to real life.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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