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

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!