Monday, November 5, 2012

Kitties in a Restaurant

    A nice aspect of the YES Abroad exchange are the excursions. We travel within the country to get a better feel for what it looks like, the history, and the differences and similarities of people within a couple miles of each other. Yesterday, we went to Mostar!

    Saturday night, Helena stayed over so it would be easier to arrive all together. Five hours of sleep later (it was Irfan's 21st birthday so he was celebrating! HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOST BRO!), we were up nice and early (5:30am. Why.) and drove off to the train station. Now, the first time I was on a train was in France, but it wasn't for very long. This train to Mostar was two hours and I was excited. It was an old train, but cute and, before we knew it, we were on our way to Mostar!
    After an absolutely gorgeous ride through Bosnia-Herzegovinian countryside we arrived in Mostar! We met up with Luljeta and another American named Sarah for coffee before we began touring the city.

   First stop was a mosque. Because we wanted to go in, we all decided on head coverings and wrapped up. After a few pictures we decided to brave the minaret and climb to the very top. I forgot that in order to get there, you need to climb stairs.

    For those of you who don't really know me yet, I hate stairs. But if I want to see something and I have to climb those stairs in order to accomplish this, I will climb. We crawled inside the narrow, winding staircase and, step by step, we got closer to the top. With Jell-o legs and aching feet, I stepped on the last step and into the sunlight to get a beautiful view of Mostar. The sun hit the surrounding mountains at just the right spot and illuminated the changing leaves. Once we were done looking around and taking pictures, we dismounted which resulted in another completely different exercise and hoping that you wouldn't slip on the way down. Which the way down was much scarier than the way up. Eventually, I touched solid, safe ground and slid against the wall repeatedly declaring how out of shape I was. You'd think after three months of walking to school and all over Sarajevo, I'd be used to this. Nope.

    We then headed to Mostar's Baščaršija, but turned down a road to where a traditional Turkish home was. We bought some postcards and admired the courtyard and then headed upstairs for more photos. The room was decorated in all the tapestries and there was a loom in the corner and the windows overlooked the river below and it was just really beautiful.
    But then in the next room, there lay a chest. It used to be used for the bride's dowry or for traveling and whatnot. Just a large, wooden chest. Luljeta went over and opens it and says, "So. Who wants to play dress up?" I see her pull out these puffy traditional Bosnian woman pants and I light up and my hand shoots in the air like a schoolgirl, "Me!" She hands me the puffy pants and matching blouse, I pull on the embroidered vest and Luljeta tied the handkerchief around my head and the end result:

KATIE THE BOSNIAN GRANDMA. I don't know how I managed to make such convincing age lines in my face in this picture, but I didn't even recognize myself the first time I saw this photo. I then took off the handkerchief and put on the fez because I currently have an addiction with fezzes. I blame 'Doctor Who'. Every time I see one it's always, "It's a fez! I wear fezzes now. Fezzes are cool." and people who aren't Doctor Who fans just give me weird looks. *sigh* It'll come along.

    We then left the Turkish home and headed down to Baščaršija which led us to Stari Most! The bridge was beautiful and big and perfect. Mainly considering it had to be rebuilt after it was blown up in '93. Luljeta told us that people would jump of the bridge for money and they would taunt people by pretending they were going to jump to earn more money. The jump is almost thirty meters! That's roughly fifty-five feet!
   Wanting a better view of the bridge we decided that it would be a good idea to climb another minaret in another mosque. Let's just say that my calves hate me today. SO we mounted the minaret and Emma filmed Savannah's back with me complaining the entire time. It was Paris all over again. However, reaching the top was lovely. Do you see how blue that water is and how gorgeous that looks? That's not even with a classy camera and sick editing. That's just beautiful nature doing it's work!
    We then explored Baščaršija some more where I found some lovely handmade bracelets made out of copper. Many of the gifts I could have bought, were also in Sarajevo, so I decided to save my money at that moment (because I've been bad going shopping all the time and not budgeting very well... whoops).

    Then it was time for dinner! We stopped at an outdoor restaurant where stray cats were roaming around and it was just overall a very pretty place. Throughout the dinner, the cats circled around our ankles and, being a bit of a cat lover (I love dogs too. I have no hate to either animal) I dropped morsels of food. One kitty in particular stayed near me the entire time and ended up curling up in a little ball on my backpack, resting on my foot. It was the cutest little thing I have ever seen! It was so soft and cute and I started baby-talking it. That was followed by some ridiculing by the girls. *Shrug* Well. What can you do? When we had to leave, I picked the kitty up and held it as it purred and then fell into a sleep. I did not want to leave that kitty, but I didn't know how my host family would feel if I brought back a kitten from Mostar. I ended up naming the kitty Mostar and held it until everyone was ready to leave. Even then, I was very sad to give Mostar up.

    We were then set loose to explore Mostar on our own. While we thought we would get lost or lose track of time, we ran into a Canadian! She overheard us speaking English and she stopped us, so we introduced ourselves and when she said she was from Montréal, I mildly freaked out and exclaimed that I am Canadian and I was from Edmonton. We were pretty much instant best friends. Not five minutes later, we ran into a YES alumni, Abe! We started talking to him too until we all had to say good bye because Abe was with his parents and the Canadian had to go as well.
    Emma, Helena and I then took off to explore Mostar for the last half hour which, guess what, included climbing more stairs. I sucked it up though and started climbing which led us to some beautiful ruins with trees and flowers growing through. I attempted to make some sort of symbolic metaphor, but Helena kind of shot it down.

    We then met back up with Luljeta, Selma, and Sarah when, all of a sudden, another YES alumni appears! Luljeta invited him for coffee, so we take off towards the new mall for late night coffee before our train ride home. By this point, we were all exhausted and once we were on the train (we got a little room like in Harry Potter. Thus began the discussion of who was who), we all fell asleep in our huddled positions.

   Two hours later, we arrived back in Sarajevo where I was so thankful my host-family picked me up. We got home, I quickly reviewed for our History timed-write today and then went to bed.

   Anyway, Mostar was a fabulous, albeit exhausting, day and I'm so glad we were able to go. If you want to follow my shorter adventures, feel free to follow me on Twitter @KateWells7 !

   Until I adopt a kitty or go on another adventure!


  1. I wish there were more pictures! (I'm never satisfied, am I?) Also, funny about the stray kitty because yesterday Tyler called me and texted me a picture of the stray yellow lab he picked up and took to the dorms, and Auntie Denise called me and texted me pictures of the stray kitty that they brought into their house. It must have been International Adopt-a-Stray Day!

  2. Just find pictures I'm tagged in from my friends and you can look at their album. But seriously, that kitty was adorable <3

  3. katie, I love your stories. What fun and exciting things you are seeing and doing. I just finished praying for you, and thought I would read your adventures. Very interesting.
    I'm wondering if time is going quickly. If not right now, it will surely come. And then you will wonder where the time went.
    We love you sweet girl, and will continue praying for you. Have fun! Uncle Don and Sasa