Sorry it's been a while since my last post. It's a challenge for me to sift through all that's happening and process it enough to write about it. I've been journaling, but even that is scattered, so my efforts usually consist of making sense of my journal entries enough to string them together into a cohesive post. Here are some experiences that stick out enough to write about for now.
Last week Jo had to mow her lawn and her neighbor’s lawn as well. When I came home from walking around the piacja with another woman who works at the Hope Center, I met her in the neighbor’s yard. (Or garden if you’re British. Funny side note – I’m beginning to pick up British terms again living with Jo. Just small things, but I find I’m falling into it quite easily. For instance, saying things like “rubbish,” “this bit,” “tip it into the sink,” “chuck it into the bin,” “can I help with the washing up?” etc.) Jo told me to hang out with the Bosnians while she mowed. What that consisted of was literally following her around while she cut the grass. We stood at a very close proximity and just watched Jo work. Every once in a while the Bosnians would point out a bit that she missed, but for the most part, we just observed, the entire time. When she finished their garden, we moved on to another neighbor’s – she had come out of her house and shouted across the fence for Jo to mow hers as well. So we all trooped down another lane to watch Jo mow that lawn. It was interesting keeping the Bosnians company because I don’t speak Bosnian (although I am learning a bit – two classes a week, it’s a hard language!). I do a considerable amount of smiling and nodding. It was so intriguing to me that everybody just kept joining us after we mowed their lawn and we clustered around Jo while she worked. They served us coffee and juice (they drink so much juice over here!) and they kept handing me fresh apples and grapes that they were picking off their trees and vines. They gave me a chair to sit in, and when I would try to say I didn’t need it, they would just keep saying sjediti, sjediti! (That means “sit, sit!”) When Jo would round the corner, they would pick my chair up and move it so I could view Jo working at all times. Heaven forbid I miss a millisecond of what she was doing.
A few days ago, as part of the potato project here (click HERE to read about it!), we took a trip out to "The Village" to pick up some potatoes. We drove four about 45 minutes down a lush, forested mountain road. When we arrived, I was taken away by the beauty. It felt as if we were stepping back in time. The house we went to was rustic and simple, made of brick. We were invited in for coffee (Amila makes the best!!) We sat around for an hour and sipped our coffee and visited. Later, out of their tiny kitchen, Amila and her mother revealed one of the best meals I think I've ever eaten. You would hardly know they were cooking, they were up and down so little, and when the pulled the pans out of the kitchen and set them on the table, I was puzzled at where it came from. However, I quickly stopped wondering because my admiration of what was set in front of me overcame any inquiry as to its creation. I was looking at fresh baked bread (sweet bread with plenty of air pockets, yet dense and crusty on the outside), potatoes picked fresh from the garden that morning, boiled then baked unti lcrispy with a little salt. Roasted peppers also fresh from the garden, served with cheese cream (nothing like we have in the States, it's sweet and sort of the texture of sour cream, but thicker.) Salad, which consisted of fresh bell peppers, onions and tomatoes chopped - no dressing, just salt, - sausage roasted in the oven with mustard and cheese cream. We all grabbed forks and dug in. We used plates, but the Bosnians didn't. They just ate from the pans, I loved it. We washed the whole meal down with fizzy water. After we were stuffed a little past the point of contentment, we went outside into the misty air and hiked up into the hills for a ways. We sought out a trickling waterfall where the ground produces a silver clay that makes your hands extremely soft... it was a bit treacherous climbing down there, but it was worth it to feel the ground. Amila carried a pick with her to dig up a bunch and take it back with us. The scenery was gorgeous and it was so refreshing to be out in the cool air when it was raining a bit here and there. Later we piled the potatoes in our van and drove back along the narrow bumpy road. It was a good day.