Dobro jutro! While kneeled down in front of my guest bed rummaging through my bag I suddenly feel two small arms around my shoulders and a small body pressed against my back. The eight-year-old girl whose room I’m sharing this week, has come to hug me good morning and disappears as suddenly as she came in.
When I’m left alone in the room after the hug, I feel my heart pounding, my stomach fluttering and my eyes water. Soon tears stream down my cheeks. A liquid smile through every fibre of my body. And at the same time pain, a subdued haze that I could call sadness. It is something that is hard to explain, but for me maybe the most valuable feeling there is. Experiencing extremes, let it wash over you, influence each other and reinforce. Connecting.
I’m staying at a young couple’s house in Sarajevo. For a few of days I am a part of their lives and they are a part of mine. At first, their daughter looked at me with suspicion when she saw my bags next to her bed. A stranger speaking a different language and sleeping in her bed, she didn’t seem to know what to make of that.
Her maths homework brought us closer together. She was very surprised that I couldn’t even count to twenty in Bosnian, while her English vocabulary was enough to communicate. Soon she taught me the first words in her own language.
An hour later we were both curled up on the sofa, both in our own world. She immersed in her Mario Kart race game and I in a book. Only our feet touched and I found this small connection endearing. I could feel her jerky movements when she tried to keep her race car on the track.
I only met her a couple of hours ago but already felt an infinite gratitude and appreciation for this little human being that welcomed me in her own sincere way.
From Mario Kart to mountaineering club, from Elven suit (with butterfly wings) to a networking conference. From Ministek to the National museum. From Snow white to Ivo Andrić. From internal bursts of happiness to bawling my eyes out. From Amsterdam to Sarajevo and back.
It is confusing and overwhelming, but it gives me courage and confidence. A tingling desire. I want to explore and discover. I want to go and experience. Via Dinarica is more than a trail, infinitely more.
Translated by Liesbeth