Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Ever-present Past

I guess this blog should come with some sort of disclaimer. You know, like "not for the very faint of heart." As easy as it is to get caught up in the frantic and idealistic world of UWC, from time to time I'm brought back down into the gravity of the situation this country still finds itself in. This weekend was one of those times, as I finally explored some of the infamous ruins around town. It was the first truly warm day, and my last day with Tessa, so we finally went up into the bank near Spanish square, which used to be the tallest building in Mostar but was bombed during the war. I add the disclaimer because I've seen that the bulletholes and bomb craters around town can provoke a variety of reactions. However, for better or for worse, I've gotten used to it. In fact, several students have commented that some of the ruins are quite beautiful, almost like pieces of surrealist art.
After the bank, we went to the Partisan's war memorial commemorating soldiers from WWII. It's a beautifully artistic site, composed of flagstone walls and walkways curving up a hillside, and with water running down into a pool at the lowest level. Unfortunately, however, the Partisans have become unpopular among the local population, and the monument has been almost completely trashed. In fact, it's become a local hangout complete with broken glass, joints, and heroine needles. It's still lovely, but the blatant disrespect for and destruction of such a sacred place seems to negate the presence of any change in the people's minds.
It's hard for me, as a relative "outsider" fully understand the meaning of and stories behind places like this, as often as I see them. So, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, and let you take something from them if you can.



The bank from outside.

The second floor, the only one in which the offices are still "intact." The strange thing is that although some of these papers are clearly from during the war, others are dated 1996 or 1997...and the war ended in 1995. We've speculated that either this one corridor has been left as an unofficial museum, or that perhaps the offices were used as a documentary set and the newer papers were added than. Any way you look at it, it's a very surreal and vaguely disturbing place.
My school from the third floor

A bit of life emerging on the roof

A view of old and new...the shattered window of the bank framing another ruin and the park built just last year.
...And the Partisans' memorial. Notice the graffiti and broken stones.
Remnants of the reflecting pool...full of alcohol and rainwater.
And still lovely, in spite of it all.