The morning began early, with breakfast and beautiful thick coffee followed by a three-hour drive from Sarajevo to Srebrenica, during which the morning light gradually burnt away the thick layers of mountain fog as we made our way over steep and winding passes. I’ve made a conscious decision not to attempt in a wine blog to explain Srebrenica, the location of genocide in 1995 — I would do the same for Auschwitz, or for Murambi. This just isn’t the medium for that sort of thing. Suffice it to say that today I saw light in some very dark places. I hope one day in person to have this discussion with you, I truly do.
It was after visiting Srebrenica and meeting an amazing man today that I saw, on the way home, a stunning sight. Atop the fortress that was built in the fourteenth or fifteenth century to protect Sarajevo, I had an unparalleled view of the city, took the picture above, and have just had to share it with everyone since then. To me, it epitomizes the utter beauty of this place, the light dancing off of the buildings and rivers, illuminating the hillsides, backlighting the clouds. I sent it to Sonja and asked her to print it. Then I sent it to me friend, Andrew, another genocide educator, and his response was spot on: “What a great vantage point! Still find it difficult to process the war in Bosnia.” He nailed it. It is a strange juxtaposition here, as it is in Rwanda and other places, to be surrounded by unthinkable beauty, and yet to know the back story as we do. Today, however, after a long time spent in contemplation, I was simply thankful for such gorgeous vistas.
Settled into my room after a plate of traditional Bosnian food, I got a call from my guide, Adi. “Good news!” He told me over the handset. “Your bag is at the airport!” If you’ve not been following, I got here on Friday, and due to luggage lost have been wearing the same shirt, underwear, socks, and pants the entire time. My hair is matted, my face is scruffy, and I get the very real sense that people can smell me coming. This was indeed good news that Adi delivered, and he picked me up twenty minutes later to go retrieve my bag. On the way, I snapped a quick shot from the moving car of a building that caught my attention the first night. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it’s lit up beautifully at night. I guess you’ll just have to come and see it for yourself.
I offered to buy Adi a drink, only to learn he doesn’t drink, so I returned to my hotel with my bag and opened a little bottle of red wine. The 2013 Plantaze Vranac Pro Corde is pretty solid stuff, and I’m finding that were I inclined toward making generalizations, I would paint Balkan wines with the “good” brush. From Montenegro and 14% ABV, this wine is rich with a nose of cassis and cocoa. Fruit-driven on the body, I get currant and blackberry, with fine tannins holding it all together, leading into a long and lingering finish. A solid red wine, it was a fine way to wrap up a day of ups and downs, of darkness and light, and my last day in Bosnia before heading to the UK (where, thankfully, I’ll have a suit and clean trousers to wear).
I’ve truly enjoyed my time in Bosnia and Herzegovina; it didn’t take much to make me fall in love with the country and the people, and to begin scheming to bring my wife and kids back here one day, hopefully one day soon. But for now, the videos Sonja keeps sending me of the kids — like the one of Titus walking around in his grandpa’s heavy work boots this afternoon, bring lots of light into my life.
Cheers to light, and the places where it suddenly appears,