Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why do you like it THERE so much there?

That is the usual reaction I get at home from geography-challenged countrymen who do not understand my attraction to Bosnia.  I don't articulated the feeling well, in truth, and usually end up confounding my questioners even more talking about how alive it makes me feel to deal with smart, mean, assertive, vocal people with a history that is tragic, untamed, self-induced and beneath all the war and domination by other nations a preview of all the world. Plus there is the coffee and the daily show on the Ferhadija. See what I mean? What sense can you make out of that?

But recently the UK's Guardian printed former High Commissioner Paddy Ashdown's response to that question, which he apparently gets a lot of too. Ashdown is the most famous of the European overloads  with king-like powers appointed to watch over Bosnia's recovery from the 1990s war. Here's what he said about the place that captivated him too:

Bosnia is probably the last place in pasteurised Europe where you can live a genuine adventure. Danger is very present there. Sarajevo is one of the most beautiful cities in the world - a garden city sitting in a bowl of mountains. Then there is the tremendous romance of the east and west coming together. I loved my time there. I loved the people. They're a bunch of bloody rogues but I'm used to that from Ireland.

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