Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zima u Mostaru (Winter in Mostar!)

I must admit the past week has been a bit surreal. Partly it's due to the fact that I was out with a flu for several days and my mind was a bit muddled. But mostly it was a somewhat spontaneous trip to Sarajevo and the unexpected treat of seeing snow in Mostar!!

Somehow I've managed to make it a long time without visiting the capital, so some friends and I took advantage of the Sarajevo winter festival to catch a jazz concert as well as explore the city. I feel like I went nearly everywhere, spending loads of time walking around, sampling local specialties, going to historical sights like the famous assassination bridge (Franz Ferdinand, WW1, ring any bells?). The whole time, there were soft, sparkling flakes of snow falling, the nicest I've ever seen. And despite getting lost trying to find our hostel Friday night, the whole trip was amazing and as enjoyable as a proper holiday.

By Monday night, I was paying for my walks in the snow with a nasty cough and cold. In fact, I was silly enough not to wear a scarf to school because I expected Mostar to be "warmer." Imagine my surprise when snow started falling...and didn't stop for a whole day! It was the best experience, even with the cough! The whole afternoon people were shouting and jumping around and making cold-weather food and announcing who was seeing snow for the first time and throwing snow at everything that moved. One thing I'll say about UWCers...we know how to celebrate and will jump at any reason to do it!

All that's left of the snow now are patches of ice left to trip us up, and some lovely memories. My personal best is of a local taxi driver who took pity when he saw Milana and I sliding down the hill, fighting the bura wind, and gave us a free ride right up to the door of the school. Mostarians may not be known for generosity and service, but that makes the incidences of it that do occur that much more special!


view from our hostel in Sarajevo

amazed by the snowfall in Mostar!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Secrets in the Season of Love

As anyone who's gone into a supermarket or convenience store lately knows, it's almost Valentine's Day! As a single gal, I've never had particular reason to look forward to this holiday, but the candy and cards from friends always make it enjoyable! I have memories from every year of school parties complete with games, Valentines decked out with cartoon characters, and frosted heart-shaped sugar cookies made by dedicated room mothers. And even in high school, there were the "Crush" and flower sales and those of us who clung to the cartoon card tradition.

Here in Europe, however, I've found that this seems a little strange. Apparently, in most of the world February 14 is a day for lovers alone! In this case, I decided to cling to my American roots and shared some homemade Valentines (sans cartoon characters) and chocolate oatmeal cookies with my friends here. The college has also caught the spirit, as we each have a "secret lover" for the week. It's basically like Secret Santa with a Valentine's theme. It's been weird seeing random declarations of love posted around the school and finding candies stashed in secret places, but I never new writing tacky love poems could be so fun!

Say what you will about the commercialization of Valentine's Day, but I'm all for any chance to celebrate each other and share a little love!

An interesting Sweetheart we found in a package from my grandparents. All it said was "URA," and we didn't know what it meant except that it's "clock" in local! Later, we found another similar candy and realized the second part rubbed off. It was supposed to say "URA 10." Not really that much better. :)

What my secret lover sent me today! How sweet!