Monday, 2 December 2013

The Dogs of Fear

I am going to start this one by emphasizing that I am fine, and have lost nothing more that 20 euros and a little sleep.

By the time I got into Sarajevo from the eastern bus station it was getting dark but I managed to get a room easily enough. The only issue was there was no internet, this is a growing problem as more places have wifi and assume everyone will have their own computer or i something with  them. So I went out to find an internet cafe.

The one I found was very small, set back from the street by two sets of stairs and occupied by four men deep in conversation, it was not obvious which if any was in charge but I got half an hour. At the end I asked how much and one said “Three marks“, which I gave him. Another said “I am hungry give me money“ and I looked at the first guy
“You want more
 No go“
So I left, as I was on the steps outside I heard heard a shout Hey give money“ it was one of the men, holding what looked like a length of pipe. Quickly I emptied all my Bosnian coins into my hand and held it out to him, then another of the men grabbed my wallet, the one with the pipe raised it but his friend waved him back. Terrified by this point I pulled all the notes out of my wallet, he grabbed them letting go of the wallet as he did and stepped back, I ran for the street and luckily was not followed.

I managed to calm myself and even grab a bite to eat from a kebab shop by the hotel.I considered calling the police but decided against it as.
1. I could never identify the men
2. The only number I had was for emergencies and it was no longer an emergency
3. Most convincing, they would probably not speak English and I could not face trying to explain myself down the phone to someone in a language I dont understand.

The next day on the principle that if you fall off your bike you have to get back on I forced myself to walk down the same street, checking it was busy first and noting the police car parked at the end. I did not go back to the cafe though as there is a difference between getting back on a bike and deliberately crashing a second time. I also looked at those monuments that were open including the Catholic and Orthodox cathedrals and the courtyard of a mosque.

I then joined a tour led by a man who was a police officer through the seige, which included a drive along sniper alley, a a visit to the tunnel that kept the city supplied in the war and a trip to the abandoned winter Olympic stadium, where the stray dogs were perfectly in tune with the mood. Two odd facts I did learn.
The day before the 1984 winter Olympics started there was no snow anywhere near the competition sites, it all fell over night.
At one point the Iranian embassy became so upset that Bosnian Muslims did not match their idea of Muslims they offered 300 euros for women to put on veils and men to grow beards.
 Old fort

 Muslim war cemetary

 This flame is out

Shrapnel marks along sniper alley

As the museums were all closed on a sunday I spent one more night and a morning to check out the sites. I then took a tram that went to the wrong bus station, a taxi to the right one and finally a bus for Mostar. The city has many beautiful buildings but even thought, let me repeat, I am fine it still smells of fear.

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