New Stuff, Public Affairs Life

Visit to Bosnia – I drank the voda and survived the draft

080603-A-8334H-053I spent the week in the beautiful country of Bosnia and Herzegovina touring the countryside, drinking tea with local honey, and NOT on minefields helping their public affairs personnel tell the story of their armed forces demining efforts. This was my fourth trip there and I always drink the water from Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, in Sarajevo. Folks from there say I’ll be back to the country because I drank the water. I was just thirsty and won’t turn down some free million-year-old spring water – delicious.

After arriving in Sarajevo, our 3-man team was greeted by the best airport shuttle driver, logistical coordinator, translator, mood improver ever, Ms. Z. She’s always up for pancakes (crepes) and gelato (ice cream). Anyway, we got our mission and checked equipment and spent the rest of the day trying to fight off jet lag. Little did I know there would be a lot of driving and long work days ahead.

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Day one included classroom time, PowerPoint-less hands-on-equipment classroom time. This would be the last day of being inside in a rather comfy environment with Wi-Fi available before spending the next few days in the demining areas. First stop, Jablanica lake for coffee/tea and to meet with the AF BiH PAO team, then to the area of Prozor.

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This area had a church (Orthodox religious folks) on the hilltop overlooking trenches used during the civil war in the 1990s. Discovered on this site were artifacts of archaeological importance. Demining the area so archaeologists can unearth the past and not suffer from remnants of war is very much needed.

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I purchased local honey and was determined to use it with my tea and coffee. I carried it in my camera bag and put that ish on everything. I wonder if the bees knew I had this stuff. Our second location was in an area near Derventa. My mission that day was to help a major in AF BiH PAO use the equipment to tell the story of some of the locals’ view on the demining efforts. So, four of us pile into this 2-door military jeep with only a window cracked and no AC. I’m in the back sweating and can only think about how chocolate melts in these conditions. The superstition called the “draft” is why the windows were up and no airflow, so I keep quiet. Our destination is the monastery and parish of St. Mark the Evangelist, in Plehan, to speak with the well-respected Roman Catholic clergy.

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Our last demining area was near Sanski Most, seems like it’s literally on top/side of a mountain. They even found some unexploded ordnance and detonated it. The de-miners called it a small explosion but 2 of my senses determined that was a lie. I even got some time in front of the camera and immediately thought I looked and sounded crazy.

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I got to end the visit visually experimenting on my colleagues at a pitstop in Jajce at the waterfalls. There’s an area nearby that’s been tagged with colorful graffiti. With a good reflector wonderful things can happen.