Breakfast is plentiful and I talk to the grandmother of the house for a long time while Chris and Uwe climb the local fortress. My foot is bandaged and chilled by frozen chicken. I don’t mind, and I don’t have to eat it later either.
However, it does draw the uneducated dog’s attention to me, which I find difficult to keep at a distance.
The lady named Ivana, like her daughter, speaks fluent German. She lived there for many years and enjoyed the time there. She is happy that she can practice the language again.
Since Chris is slowly getting cocky about the fortresses, Uwe and I have to take measures and determine that he can only visit one fortress per day. This day is an exception, because there is also one in the town of Stolac, which we are going to.
And I haven’t visited any yet. We meet a young lady from couch surfing named Ivana in a gastronomic water mill.
She had the time and the desire to meet us and tell us something about the country.
She belongs to the Croatian ethnic group. She only speaks Croatian and calls Croatia her home, although she was not born there and all of her family is in Bosnia & Herzegovina. She doesn’t know a single Bosnian personally. She cannot understand our amazement.
After a few cold drinks, she accompanies us to the fortress. After we heard from her that her parents produce and sell raki, we can’t help but pay them a visit. Ivana stays in town and her mother speaks neither English nor German, but when we tell about Ivana she knows that we know her daughter.
She and the elderly gentleman, who is also in the small general store, are a little surprised at our presence. We enjoy the raki (cheers = “Djiveli“) and set off again with a homemade bottle under our arms.
Lessons in Bosnia & Herzegovina: segregation in schools
We learned from Ivana that the children go to school in the morning or in the afternoon, depending on their religion. The Christian children are in the first half of the day, the Muslim children in the second. For centuries no one had the idea to mix up the people in one country. Christian and Muslim communities can coexist in a city for generations without the residents ever having anything to do with each other. It makes me sad I watch the Muslim school children.
We stay in a city that sounds like a total delicacy. Vrapcicci has nothing else to offer, not even a nice Balkan restaurant. For this we have to go deep into Mostar again and end up back in the main tourist mile.
Our way leads towards Konjic. As always, we have little plan of what we want to do on such a day and we decide spontaneously. Chris finds tips in my travel guide about a couple of beautiful waterfalls in a valley off the main road.
It just looks like a little detour, so we cross the bridge over the Donja Dreznica river and snake our way up the mountains with the car through the low-hanging clouds. It’s been a few hours since we had the last coffee, so we stop at a cafe and order three espressos past the puzzled faces of the men.
People are happy about our international society and greet us enthusiastically. Nobody here has ever heard of a waterfall, however. After a long monologue, a man waves us in his own language in one direction, but we don’t find anything. A sign points in another direction. We overwhelm another man with our English so that he gets help from a young woman who is just passing by. She looks like she’s fourteen and has taken care of school enough to talk to us.
She also has no idea of a waterfall in this valley. It is slowly taking on the character of an Indiana Jones adventure “In Search of the Lost …”. She asks us to get into our car and show us a spot that could possibly be the body of water we are looking for. I’m trying to convince her that we three foreign men have a well-founded fear of simply letting a strange underage young woman get into our car. However, she promises to behave.
The waterfall she presented does not turn out to be particularly spectacular. We stop at a small shop with the excuse that she just wanted to buy a little something. She comes back with three packs of ice cream for us. Now we are really suspicious.
We should know better, our mothers had warned us before. What follows is what had to follow. She invites us to her home for coffee.
Anjela’s mother doesn’t seem to be at all surprised that suddenly three Germans are in her little house. She asks us to sit on the sofa and cigarettes, which we accept and reject. She prepares Turkish coffee, while Anjela proves us with an ID that she is not fourteen, but twenty-two years old. Her younger brother shows us his hard-trained leg muscles and gets excited about Bosnian and Croatian football players with Uwe. The only thing we cannot forgive is that he is a staunch Bayern Munich fan.
The family is Bosnian and Muslim, like everyone in this valley. But we only notice that after we ask. In this country it is difficult for foreigners to judge which ethnic group one is facing.
While we are enjoying our coffee in the hut, the world is coming to an end in a violent storm outside. It seems as if all the bad weather forecast was discharged at a single point in time and wanted to prove its truthfulness of the last few days in a compressed form. Mother takes our answer that we would be a bit hungry, as an occasion to mix a dough and roll it out on the floor in a wide circle, to prepare potatoes, onions and minced meat, to put on the dough, to a thin roll and then to to form a snail and take it out of the oven as a fresh Börek. It tastes fantastic. Now the children’s aunt has joined us, who sits in silence with us on the sofa and enjoys the company, even if she doesn’t understand English. Everyone but us smoke.
As a farewell, we get a raki bottle shaped like a truck. We are overwhelmed by the hospitality. These people don’t have much and the woman must work a lot to offer something to her two children.
And yet we are invited to everything and pampered as guests. A few days later we will buy some presents at a market and mail them to the family.
We bring Anjela to the bus stop because she wants to go to her boyfriend in Mostar. Our next stop is Jablanica. We ignore the museum about the war, but we are deeply impressed by the destroyed railway bridge, the rubble of which on the other bank still extends into the Neretva.
These holdovers can still be traced back to World War II. At this point, Yugoslav partisans were able to inflict a serious defeat on the invaders from Nazi Germany.