Bosnia and Hercegovina
Bosnia is different. I recognized that in the first hours of entry. Warning signs for minefields are hung along the road. A sad reminder of the civil war.
The first night I was harassed by some Roma children when I wanted to sleep in a sports stadium. Luckily some people helped me to find a hostel where I could spend the night. The very next day, I experienced the opposite.
In Srebrenik is the castle of Srebrenik. A man stopped me when I wanted to go there. Meho and his neighbor Sehalia drove me to the castle and invited me for lunch.
Meho has told me a lot about the social problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A normal worker earns about 10-15 € per day. The average pension is 150 € per month. Most people grow their own vegetables in the garden. Otherwise they had no chance to survive.
Right after Tuzla I met the first cyclist since Austria. Rich from the US drives his recumbent bike through Europe.
In Potočari I visited another sad part about the history of this country. The Monument of Srebrenica-Potočari and the Cemetery for the Victims of the Genocide of 1995. The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica Genocide, was the genocide of more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks, mainly men and boys, in July 1995 and around the city of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war. If you look at the gravestones that were erected for each and every one of the victims of the genocide, you are slowly indicating the dimension of this crime.
I found an inscription on a memorial stone very important:
"In the name of God.
the most compassionate.
We pray to Almighty God.
May appeal be hope!
May revenge become righteousness!
May mother tears become prayers.
That Srebrenica never happens again.
To nobody and nowhere! "
A few days later I arrived in Sarajevo. I visited Sarajevo for the last time 10 years ago. Since that time, many things have changed. Especially Baščaršijske, the city center, feels like little Istanbul to me. In 1914, it was the site of the murder of the Austrian archduke, who caused the First World War. Seventy years later, the 1984 Winter Olympics took place here. For almost four years, from 1992 to 1996, during the Bosnian War (1,425 days), the city suffered the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare.
On my way back from my visit to the Tunnel of Hope (The tunnel connected the Sarajevo districts of Dobrinja and Butmir, bringing food, war supplies and humanitarian aid into the city and people getting out.) A lady invited me for a tea. Azra lived in New York for 3 years. Here is the father proudly 92 years old. He has experienced almost three wars during his life. It was a great honor to meet him.
I decided to cycle through the mountains to see more of the rural surroundings. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a land of contrasts with a moving past. I hope that the cultural diversity will be preserved. That makes this country so unique.