Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Metrovica -- A divided town

Betim, Hawley and I try to look casual on concertina laced Blue Bridge while a burley looking official guy approaches. Actually, we are taking photos of sniper's nest, armoured vehicles and signs warning that any hints of aggressive behavior will be vehemently put down.

A heroic sized statue of a freedom fighter, but with that pistol in his belt he looks like a thug.

A French officer told us we were not allowed to take pictures like this one. He demanded to see the shots I had in my camera. Did he miss this one or think it was OK?

A student in our classes offered to show us around his hometown -- Metrovica. I jumped at the chance. "Oh, you have heard of Metrovica?" he asked.

Yes, and not very good things. It's a divided town with Serbs -- those who have not yet emigrated to Serbia living in the north and Albanians to the south -- with the Blue Bridge over the Iber River dividing them. There have been a series of ugly incidents and violence in the city, which is blue-collar, a former industrial and mining power of the former Yugoslavia.

Betim, the student, picked us up in Prishtina and drove us both ways with the intention I believe of showing us that things were under control and life was fairly normal. But there were internationals and especially armed troops everywhere and the city did not feel friendly or normal at all.

Besides walking over the bridge, we drank coffee, of course, and visited a high school where Albanians had once been barred from attending. It's almost totally Albanian now, though the headmaster after serving us Russian tea (it's called Turkish tea in Sarajevo) took us to see a Bosnian class. This was actually a Serbian class, that language now being an elective rather than the required tongue of the whole school. We found five students crammed into a fire hazard of a room with a teacher. They had no books, no supplies and when Svjetlana asked them what they found hard about the language they answered, "There are so few."

No comments:

Blog Archive