Mon Oct 08, 2001 | day 28
I wish I had the time to write all of you about my time in Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia the last FOUR DAYS (!!!), but I will just have to fill you all in when I get home. Sometimes I feel like I'm on that show "The Amazing Race." I spent a total 40 minutes in Vienna, Austria - but what is really "amazing" is what you can see in a little amount of time like that. My 36 hours in Budapest felt like a week!
However, I would like to bring up a subject that all of you must be thinking a lot about: war. Walking down the streets of Sarajevo, Bosnia this evening really helps put things into perspective. It was 4 years ago when tanks and heavy artiliary were present on the streets here, yet you would think by looking at the damaged houses, buildings and monuments that the tanks were here yesterday.
My nine hour train ride from Zagreb, Slovakia to Sarajevo was a wake up call. I read that hundreds of thousands of houses and buildings were deliberately destroyed during the war that took place here from 1992-1995. The standard red bricks and roof tiles that were distributed to the people afterwards are still being used to repair and rebuild. Whole towns here are made out of these bricks. I passed a convenient store that pleasantly does business next to a large destroyed werehouse. The plots of land used for cemeteries were filled with rows of simple tombstones all placed in the ground at about the same time. People walking always watch out for one of the one million landmines still not found or removed from the land, but life here is moving forward. People seem happy and the bars and cafes are packed here at night.
The thing that occurred in the U.S. was unbelievably sad, but I think it was nothing compared with what happened here in the mid-'90s. Imagine seeing the damage at the Pentagon and the Trade Towers untouched for the next 5-7 years... that is what Bosnia has to live with daily. But they are happy, very helpful and kind people. (I am staying at the owner of a hostel's HOUSE because all of the rooms are full!) It is such a wonderful city that is brought alive by the people, not the buildings. We could take notes from these people...
I got off the train today around 7pm (10am PST) and saw a newspaper for the first time in 2 days. "AMERIKA BOMBARDAJU AFGAHNISTAN" read the headline. It's really hard to be so far away from home sometimes...
Talk to you soon,