Bosnia's one of those countries you just
never feel warm and comfy in, so we didn't stay too long. But on our way
out of the country by car, we were still looking for interesting shots
of the culture...and this lady was perfect. She was gathering wood just
outside her meager home in war-torn northwest Bosnia. She caught my wandering
eye as Bryan, myself, and a missionary named Richard sped by. Richard
gladly threw it in reverse so I could hop out and get a quick shot. Through
my camera's viewfinder I watched her reaching down for the wood, then
I saw her slowly turn her head and look right at me.
felt the need to ask permission to film her but let's just say that
my Bosnian is a little rusty. So Richard scurried over to ease her would-be
fears of these mysterious Americans and their camera. No sooner did
he get a few words out than we found ourselves accepting their humble
invitation to join them for coffee.
If there's one thing I've learned about
non-American cultures (especially third world countries) spontaneous visits
can - and often do - turn into epic events. This was no exception.
We soon met her husband, Mohammed, a peaceful and devout Muslim man. He
did his best to communicate to us between blood-curdling hacking spells
no doubt brought on by a smoking habit that he seemed unwilling to give
up. In a dingy upper room he dramatically described what it was like to
watch the Serbian army marching by his house destroying homes and buildings.
He was vindicated once when he lobbed a grenade out at them. Bryan and
I understood only what Richard filtered to us, but Mohammed's frequent
"booms" describing the bombing that seemed to hit every house but his,
made us feel in a very small way the horror of the seemingly endless civil
war. Centuries of hatred have left the mine-filled countryside of Bosnia
riddled with shelled homes and sparse people. But Mohammed and his wife
truly lived up to the Bosnian people's reputation of "the most hospitable
people in Europe."
So if you're ever in northwest Bosnia, look for a strong woman gathering
wood. She'll give you some of the best Turkish coffee you've ever had,
but watch for flying grenades.