We are home from our trip to Bosnia in Eastern Europe to visit our daughter and her family, incuding our almost two-year-old grandson. It was an amazing adventure that took us to the Bosnian country-side deep in the mountains and to Sarajevo, to Croatia and to Hungary and Budapest where we stayed for several days.
My head feels like it's ready to explode in a good way with all the things we saw and the experiences we had.
It's one thing to visit with your married kids in an American city, but a different and nuanced experience to visit in an Eastern European country and culture that had been under the thumb of communism and ten experienced a rugged war where people are still trying to reach a sense of normalcy and hope. My head this morning doesn't have this all organized in a nice thoughtful essay.
I feel more like Hunter Thompson, the father of gonzo journalism, pouring forth a stream of consiousness about his various experiences. Here goes in a bulleted sort of fashion and there will be plenty more to come as I sort through my notes:
- We were in a small cafe in Livno enjoying some ice cream when a group of Turkish soldiers came in for lunch at one of about four tables there. They were part of the UN force that's trying to help Bosnia recover from a war that left serious fractures in the economy and the culture. In the close quarters, our grandson who has a mile-wide smile and curly blonde hair hollered "Ciao" to one of the generals who then offered his uniform patch to him. It was that little smile that crossed cultural chasms and helped the world seem more friendly.
- On Palm Sunday morning, my son-in-law and I went to the Stop Cafe in Livno where the guys get together for Turkish coffee, homemade honey brandy and local beer. The bartender's name is Nikolai who is incredibly friendly to an American who's filled with all kinds of questions in a place that's saturated with cigarette smoke. The conversations there were filled with real life intermingled with talk about cars and trucks. Lots of people drive Skodas there. Ever hear of it?
- I've heard of people realing driving fast on the Autobahn, but now I've experienced it. Wow! It didn't seem like we were going in the neighborhood of 100 mph, but we were. It should be noted that the roadway was much better than anything we have in Michigan. However, the toll for using it seemed pretty high.
- Everybody seems to heat their homes with wood burning furances. Outside everybody's house is a stockpile of wood and you see men and women, kids and adults, young and old going to the woodpile. We were warm while we were there.
- My son-in-law Adam is really a quality guy. He and I had lots of chances to talk and compare notes on a wide variety of topics. I've seen his heart and I've watched him interact with the people he works with. He really loves my daughter. He's a great dad and he loves Jesus Christ. I know that early in their relationship, I played the role of the "father-of-the-bride" who was wary of the guy marrying his super-pumpkin. I'm really proud to have him as a member of the family. His mom and dad should be really proud.
- What a woman! I am really proud of my daughter and the person she is. She's still the same beautiful, wonderful super-pumpkin, but all grown-up who has excelled in her various roles. She and Adam have turned their everyday life in a challenging country into a daily victory. Their love for God and for each other is reflected in the face of their son, our grandson.
I have much more. This is a start. I will share about our visit and overnight in Sarajevo and our lunch in an outdoor cafe where I ate cevapci with my grandson on my lap with the trains, trams and buses going by next to us and with hundreds of pigeons flying overhead. More to come.