No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

12 December, 2007

Random Ramblings

The QSI Sarajevo bus fleet! VW's are the most popular, and most stolen, vehicles in Sarajevo.
I would guess 2 out of every 3 cars in Bosnia is a VW.
I think there are some sick birds in Sarajevo tonight. We must have had at least 16 runny hits on the Buba while it was parked under a tree. Really, I thought someone had egged the car, it was so bad.

We made our decision. We have to go for the dream and try for jobs in The Netherlands. If it doesn't work out, so be it, and we may end up somewhere really else. But, the dream of riding our bikes to work everyday is too enticing.

People should always look at a place with the perspective that they will be leaving it soon. Even though we still have almost 7 months left in Sarajevo, we are beginning to view the city with "rose colored glasses." Here are just a few of the things we will miss: cherry rakija at Trattorio Uno, our friend Edita, the peaceful nights, somun pita bread, our incredible apartments on the hill, the uneven cobblestone staircases, and cheap, bubbly water.

01 December, 2007

The first street dancer we have ever seen.
Proof that a little sunshine will change everyone's perspective! Bags of bread are often left hanging on the trash cans for people in need.

Today, I like Sarajevo. The sun is shining. The change in weather put a skip in almost everyone's step and a few of the dour looking faces even turned into smiles. We had a Bosnian morning downtown--picked up a few black market DVDs, watched the parade of Sarajevans dressed to the nines to see and be seen, had a mini-Zeljanica (spinach pie) and a cappuccino among the smoke and locals.

We have to make a decision soon. Our dream has been to live and teach in The Netherlands for a lot of reasons, mostly because it's such a friendly bike culture. But to go for 2 of the 5 jobs available next year, we have to quit our jobs in Sarajevo because of timing issues. We are generally happy here, despite the fog and coal burning, and don't want to have to take just any job. Do we take the risk and go after the dream? Or do we stay in relative job security and spend another year in Bosnia, trying to enjoy the small things in life and raising our chances of dying at the fender of a '72 VW Golf or a smog induced respiratory infection? Choices...

30 November, 2007

Thanksgiving in Leiden

Last Thanksgiving I visited James in Sarajevo and got fogged in for 4 extra days. After 5 straight clear days, we thought this year might be different, but, just our luck, the fog rolled in and our flight was canceled the night before. Determined to make a break for Western Europe, we took an 8 hour overnight bus to Zagreb to catch our other connection. It was a brutal, smelly night, but well worth it. Our visit to The Netherlands was everything we needed to refresh. We rode our bikes, ate Thai food, shopped, and just enjoyed the ambiance of a quiet, friendly town. Leiden is the city from which the Pilgrims left for America--the perfect place for a Thanksgiving feast made by Cory and friends. These are just a few funny pictures from the weekend. Below, we are at the 4 story bike parking in Amsterdam.
A clothing store in Leiden pulled us in to try on clothing and do a "street casting photo shoot." Cory and I put on some funky clothes and posed in hopes of winnig a trip to Barcelona. The girls in the picture below remind me of Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat.Leiden
Sinterklaas arrived! On December 5th, Dutch children place their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with candy by Sinterklaas and his helper, Black Piet. If you are bad, Sinterklaas will put you in his bag and carry you away.Swarms of Black Piets were all over The Netherlands this weekend--we saw them dancing, singing, playing instruments and even rappelling off a church. Black Piet was originally a term for the devil, then thought to be an African slave and more recently his black face and hands are told to be from chimney soot. To be politically correct, a move was recently made to change Black Piet to have a blue, red, or green face with the explanation that he rowed his boat through a rainbow. We didn't see any of these rainbow Piets.

18 November, 2007

Warming Shwarming

Just like spicy food, global warming has yet to hit Sarajevo.
2 days of snow
It's been snowing for the last 4 days, non-stop.
The Chinese embassy behind my house.

08 November, 2007

Balkan Basketball

Two of the fathers of my students are in Bosnia to play for the Bosnia national basketball team. We were given a pair of free tickets to watch the game at Zetra on Tuesday night. It was a fun game and they killed the British team. The high school dance team, I thought, was a tad too provocative, but the overzealous cheering section next to us seemed to really enjoy them. I think we found a new pastime in Sarajevo.

04 November, 2007

US Marine Corps Ball at the Holiday Inn

John and Claudia invited us to the US Marine Ball on Saturday night. Every country holds a ball in honor of the Marine's November birthday. The Sarajevo ball was held at the Holiday Inn, built in 1983 to welcome guests for the '84 Winter Olympics. During the war it was the home of foreign journalists. Today, it looks the same as it did in 1984, brown and green walls with hints of burnt orange accents. We dined on plates bearing the Olympic insignia...amazing they have lasted almost 25 years. "Informer" and "Macarena" blared over the speakers as women wearing recycled bridesmaid dresses danced as if we were all back at a high school prom. Ever Oregon proud. Go Ducks!
Yes, this is our boss. Yes, he asked for this.
Our hosts, James's brother, John, and his wife Claudia.

02 November, 2007

VIP Treatment

I had to take a trip to the hospital today to get my sinus infection taken care of. Because of the many foreigners in Bosnia, the hospital maintains a VIP section that assigns you an English speaking nurse who takes you to the doctor, translates your prescription and walks you to the cashier. The Sarajevo hospital is in urgent need of upgrading. Most procedures and technology have not been updated since before the war in 1991. The maternity hospital was bombed during the war and is still not open. The eye clinic now houses the maternity ward.

The pronunciation of Jesse in Bosnian translates literally to "where are you" (gdje si), but is also used as a greeting akin to, "whats up?" The doctor and nurses got a big kick out of it and kept joking around saying "gdje si, Jesse." The doctor put on one of those mirrored headbands that kids put on when they play doctor. All the materials were antiquated and I don't believe gloves were even used. Without a computer in sight, everything was logged in a large book. The exam consisted of me blowing green snot into a tissue and then showing it to the doctor. I anticipated him pulling out a little hammer and tapping my knee, but instead he gave me a prescription for antibiotics and told me to blow my nose often. Cost of the visit: 22KM (about $15).

Our Favorite Star Wars Mosque

At night, this mosque near our school lights up in blue!

22 October, 2007

21 October, 2007

Biking in Bosnia

After a long saga involving James's new bike, it finally arrived in Sarajevo yesterday via our friend, Corey, from Holland. Our inaugural ride was on the coldest day we've had so far. Bitterly cold, with snow just a few days ago, we bundled up and hauled ourselves out in hopes that the normally chaotic roads might be a bit quieter on this drizzly Sunday. This was my first ride with my clip pedals---I took one good fall, straight over on my side, and it never happened again. I can't say that riding here is blissful or, at best, enjoyable, but at least we got out and challenged the elements. We rode up the Mijlacka River to the goat bridge, then headed back into town to meet Corey for a celebratory cevapi.

I felt decently happy about my first bike adventure until the ride home. Turning up the hill to my house, I witnessed a man get hit by a car, do a back flip and lay unconscious in the middle of the road. The screams of another witness and the realization that I can't even communicate in this country enough to make an emergency phone call are haunting. I feel like being on the roads here is a constant battle and requires your utmost attention--there are few enforced driving rules and drivers are just too aggressive and fast. For me, it's one of the toughest aspects of living here.

20 October, 2007

Marshmallow Puff Anyone?

No weekend is complete without a chocolate covered marshmallow puff with a crunchy graham cracker bottom. Also available in Mini-Dickmann size.

18 October, 2007

Walking in Ilidza (E-lee-ja)

Just a little fixer-upper in Ilidza. On a walk with James and his niece, Sara.
Soooo cold in Sarajevo these days.
Buba ran out of gas on the main Sarajevo thoroughfare...thankfully Sara found a puddle to keep her well entertained.

17 October, 2007

School Video

Our school just put together a new video to sell itself. James and I are in here....about minute 5 and on. You can see a little bit about what we do here.

01 October, 2007

Fall Hiking

My uncle Mark came to visit this weekend after he spent a week hiking in Slovenia. It's always good to have visitors because it forces you to seek out new places and to see your home in a different light. We had warm, sunny weather for exploring and hiking in the hills around Sarajevo. It takes a little faith in the people and the mine clearing agencies for one to step off pavement around here, especially since the areas we hiked saw heavy fighting during the war. It takes no time to become conditioned to staying on clearly marked and traveled paths--the feeling of grass under your feet feels like you could be skirting death. But, there were plenty of hikers on the trail and gorgeous views of the mountains and valleys to be had, mines or not. The leaves are just beginning to turn, the air was crisp and you can't help but think of Oregon when out in these mountains. Until you see the shell of a bombed out hotel on the side of the ski mountain (the 84 Winter Olympics luge went through here) and a clear spring dumping into a bathtub.

Friday Nights in Sarajevo

A view of our Ciglane neighborhood and James climbing around in the park by our house. Who woulda thought? Pringles, my uncle Mark and the Oregon Ducks game in Bosnia!

Apple Picking

We took our 6 year old classes to our principal's house for an apple picking field trip last week. The kids had a blast, but really wanted to run in the field next door...until they learned what it was. The pictures show the area where they train the mine detection dogs.

21 September, 2007


I just like this picture that James took from my apartment. It's Ramadan right now, which means that Muslims are fasting during the day and will eat when the sun goes down. A single firework goes off at sundown above the hills to signal the time to eat. We had a delicious meal at the Mala Kucna, a "small kitchen" with made to order meals and a friendly staff. It's by far the best restaurant in Sarajevo. Black market DVDs and homemade sushi with James' family is in order for the weekend.

18 September, 2007

Baska Voda, Croatia

Warm weather and fresh air welcomed us to the Croatian coast this weekend, but for us, the most exciting find was the Konzum store that sold curry paste, tortillas, soy sauce, and tofu! Heavenly. We hiked on Saturday through olive groves to a small town with great views of the sea. Our host, Ana, gave us a bottle of rakja (ra-key-uh) and a cup of her homemade olive oil. We swam with the fish in the warm, salty Adriatic and sunbathed with the German and Czech tourists. Only in Europe are the Speedo and bikini a right for all! It was a nice farewell to the summer.

Lisa & Steve: I sent you wedding wishes and love this weekend, wishing I could be there!

Oregon is famous in Bosnia!

The irony of what Oregon is known for.
Look at the name on the chainsaw...

13 September, 2007

Bosnia v. Moldova Soccer Match

Not a crowded house tonight...
good thing there were so many riot police....
because they actually did set their own seats on fire...

11 September, 2007

Out & About Sarajevo

A few pictures of Sarajevo. Most of these are taken in BasĨarsija, the old town market sector where the city was founded by the Ottomans in the 15th century (thanks Wiki!).