Inspired by the nice weather and Easter holiday, Tobi, Evers, and I decided to take go to Međugorje for the day. The town might have a claim as the most famous in BiH...it certainly is among Catholics, who claim it as a holy site where the Holy Mother has repeatedly appeared. There isn't a great deal to be sign aside from this, the tourists, and the vineyards, but the Herzegovinan countryside is a lovely place to soak in the Spring. In English class, we've been studying Flannery O'Conner's portrayal of the grotesque in her short stories, and although I wouldn't describe this day quite so strongly, it was full of the unexpected.
Leaving Mostar behind....
...the last signs of winter and the first signs of spring
...we decided to pay our professor, who lives in a room rented from our librarian's mother, an unannounced visit. He was just arriving home, but in true Bosnian fashion we were still introduced to his neighbors and offered the customary homemade orah rakija, made from walnuts. (As a side note, it was only about 3pm but according to the local timetable, anywhere closer to dinner time than to sunrise seems a perfectly acceptable hour for a drink. When Tobi and I had both had a shot of the whiskey and a bit of white wine, we declined refills and were met with, "Hah. I win, then." And thus, we lost a drinking contest we didn't know we'd entered. How's that for grotesque?) Professor Boulting's neighbors are friendly couple with a sweet dog and a lovely garden! She moved from London two years ago, and he makes rosaries and jewellrey out of stone from the apparition hill. I'm still a bit in awe of these little international connections that keep popping up, but it gives the wide world a much more comfortable feeling. As further evidence, more than one person has already promised to try to put me in touch with former students and friends in Abu Dhabi! After the Mass, he met us at the bus stop to send us on our way. Maybe we're extrapolating too much, but Tobi pointed out that that sort of beyond-the-call of duty hospitality seems to be more characteristic of his generation (the ones that were coming down from Oxford and Cambridge in the early '60s). One of my favorite things about this region is that even towards the foreigners who can't pronounce "hvala" to save their lives, it's still very much a way of life. And that's no April Fool's joke.