I hope you’re having a good day. I’m coming to you today from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city is nestled along a river in a mountain valley and has been described by at least one person other than myself as ‘the world’s largest village’.
In fact, Sarajevo (pronounced ‘Sarah-hey-vo’) is a city of about 500,000. That’s about the same population as Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Canadians reading this.
One example of my incredible luck during this past 48 days of travel is how I got from the Sarajevo airport to my hostel. I landed in Sarajevo at around 11pm, after being delayed in Zagreb, Croatia for several hours. As I stood in the airport trying to use my 15-minute allocation of free airport wifi to contact my AirBnB hostel host in order to arrange a taxi, airport security started turning the lights off – the airport was shutting down.
There were two people left working at the airport – a guy in a rental car agency trying to sort things out with a frustrated tourist and a girl just shutting down her Enterprise rent-a-car booth and getting ready to leave. I went over to her and asked her awkwardly if I could call a cab (my phone had NO SERVICE, ack).
“Where are you going?” she asked, “city centre?”
“Yeah.” I replied.
“If you don’t mind waiting five minutes, I can take you.” she said.
“Really? Thank you! That would be awesome.”
Not that taking cabs are expensive here, but I was so tired and it meant I wouldn’t have to wait, plus I’d get to chat with this girl. My first friend in Bosnia!
As if getting offered a ride wasn’t great enough, when I showed her on Google Maps where I needed to go, she knew my hostel right away. She lives around the corner from it and her brother is buddies with the owner.
Yes. In a city of half a million people the first person I met was basically the perfect person. It was like landing in a foreign country and being greeted by a family member. She was so nice and was telling me all about Sarajevo. She was born in the city when it was under siege during the Bosnian War. Her and her boyfriend drove me right to the door of the hostel, helped me get my luggage out and then wished me a good evening. If they’re reading this: You are the best! Thank you!
In the morning, this was the first thing I saw:
When you wake up, look out the window and this is the first thing you see. Welcome to Sarajevo, capital city of Bosnia and Hercegovina. Population around 400,000. Largely restored after the 1990s Bosnian War. Here we’re looking south towards the river and the city centre. I think I’m gonna like it here.
So, a better introduction to this country I couldn’t imagine.
Also, I highly recommend The Doctor’s House hostel. If you want this view, book the 6-person dorm. It has a balcony where you can sip a beer and watch the sun go down over the valley while listening to evening prayers echo in the valley. In short, paradise.
There was a great group of travellers at the hostel while I was there (I just moved today to an apartment arranged by Project 1948 for the rest of the month). A lot of solo women travellers, which was great as we all teamed up to explore the city together.
With that update, here are some great things on the Internet this week:
- If you haven’t watched Lemonade, do that first. Then read Bell Hooks blog post about it, then read a black feminist roundtable on Bell Hooks, Beyoncé, and “Moving Beyond Pain”
- The politics of using the white emoji.
- A tale of two salaries.
- Cloud watchers in Britain rocking scientists’ worlds.
- Beautiful longform piece on India’s dying mother, the Ganges River.
- Legal weed isn’t as good a deal as we thought it would be.
- Women, take care of yourselves.
- I like imagining Hermione Granger as a tax haven mogul.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates is everywhere right now and I love it. Read his essay On Homecomings.
- The problem with all the scientific studies you see on TV, as explained by John Oliver.
- While you’re at it, check out The Century of the Self documentary for a disturbing look at how so much modern marketing (including what you see on the news) was created by Ed Bernays.
- Then after Bernays destroys your soul, watch the documentary He Named Me Malala to restore your faith in people and love.
- Finally, get some great advice from Canadian writer Lisa Moore, “Trust everyone. Everyone behaves better when they feel they’re trusted. Nobody wins a fight; the trick is to behave decently no matter what. The trick is to make love a lot. And think of it as making love. Always be making love.”
So that’s my song for this week. As for your week, I hope it’s a good one.
p.s. Okay like 30 minutes after posting it I realized CBC had published my story about FGM education in London! It’s the last piece I did as a part of my CBC London internship and I’m pretty happy about it! I pitched, researched, interviewed and photographed it. Thanks to everyone who helped! Either with letting me talk to them or helping me edit it afterward. ❤️