For one last time we are at the Dubrovnik Bus station,…waiting for the Mostar-bound bus which unfortunately is running late. A huge crowd of passengers gather steadily before the bus finally arrives. By default, we are standing right infront of the open underbelly of the bus. However, the bus attendants seem flustered, confused and overwhelmed. Their body language indicate resistance to anyone´s attempt to load their luggage onto the bus. The crowd impatiently surges forward, and a young girl standing next to me urges me on with a toss of her head, and a whisper, “Hey, put your luggage in.”
I glance at her. She looks and sounds exotic; flawless olive skin, her english laced with a thick Balkan accent and long black tresses shaping her beautiful face. Her knowing attitude and the confidence she exudes makes me think she’s probably in college. She has a large backpack and I wait to see if she will put it in before I follow suit.
“He told me I could do it,” she assures me, in a voice loud enough for everybody to hear. I watch her in disbelief. There’s no way I’m putting in my luggage if she doesn’t go first. I wouldn’t want to piss off the bus attendant who already seems pissed. Meanwhile he is fumbling with some ticket tags.
Only after she puts her backpack in, do I proceed to put our luggage in. The bus attendant grunts in annoyance. Because his English is limited, apart from the noises he makes signifying displeasure; he shoves, pushes and prods us. A second girl has put her luggage in, and he allows her to pay for the space, but she has a 200 kuna note, and he doesn’t give change. I see a window of opportunity and quickly press a 20 kuna note into his hand. He accepts it and gives me one end of a sticker, the other with which he tags my baggage. I enter the bus with the dark haired girl and look for comfortable seats for me and my daughter.
Soon, everyone trickles in and at last we can set off to Mostar. It should take a couple of hours, perhaps three or more depending on how long we take at the border. The bus stops enroute while scaling some winding hills. An announcement is made in Bosnian. The bus is filled with people from the U.S, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Australia, myself from Kenya and so forth. No one around me seems to understand what is being said.
“English!” A few folks shout out agitatedly, “Please speak in english!”
While we wonder whether our bus has broken down in the hills, someone translates for us what the problem is.
Apparently, the bus had been riding with the underbelly flap open and some bags fell out. A car tailing us managed to collect the bags, stop our bus and hand them over. “He says we should get down and try to identify our bags.”
No one seems to move so I get down and identify my bag among a heap. Other passengers follow suit and identify bits and pieces here and there before boarding the bus again. It is confirmed that no luggage has been lost and we feel grateful to the man that followed the bus. The bags are returned to the underbelly which is firmly shut this time. We sink into our seats and relax for the journey.
There are several stops for immigration, first for exiting Croatia and then for entering Bosnia-Herzegovina. I take in the scenery and breath a sigh of relief. This summer I so badly wanted to be in Bosnia-Herzegovina and now I’m here, I feel a sense of accomplishment…I’ve made it.
The first day as I walk around, I get an insight into the Yugoslav War; how so deeply it impacted the soul of Mostar, and the psyche of her people, and how to this day, there are etch marks, visible scars left behind like fingerprints, emptied out buildings filled with bullet holes, standing desolate as if to record what took place years ago.
I learn as well that Mostar is quite touristy, with many visitors coming in each year, and the subsequent demand for hostel and hotel rooms.
Categories: Bosnia and Herzegovina