Bosnia and Hertezgovia - Medugorje

by Kimp 18. April 2015 06:00

Photo Blog (Click to view)

Bosnia tourism has enjoyed one of the highest growth rates in the last 20 years and it's expected to continue well into the future. Medugorje is one of the reason's. And the other is its very diverse cultural, and musical experience.

Nestled in the Southern, predominately Catholic region of Bosnia and surrounded by beautiful countryside, nearly one million christians make the pilgrimage here every year. I visited during Palm Sunday in 2014.

Modern History

In 1981, six school kids, mostly teenagers, were hanging out in the woods near town, when a white feminine figure holding a child in her arms (the ghost of the Blessed Virgin Mary), appeared to them. They visit that place daily, and for years, have said that they saw it each day. Some of them still say they see it, but some no longer see it.

The local bishop did not call it a conformed aspiration, but the Vatican recently sent a committee there to investigate. I believed they convened in January of 2014, but have not made a public declaration either way, as of yet.

There are four criteria needed for the Vatican to confirm an aspiration.

1. Person must be Moral

2. Person must has good personal qualities: honest, sincere, faithful, practices a normal faith.

3. The revelations revealed cannot contradict the bible and must support the bible.

4. The results of the revelations must be fruitful in other peoples lives (must help convert people Christianity and strengthen Christian beliefs).

Eastern European Car Rental

I've rented several car's in Eastern Europe and have had about the same experience in most of them.

I've noticed a very distinct pattern that goes as follows.

I picked one of the cheaper priced, brand name car rental agencies before the trip and made a reservation. My plane gets in either around 9 A.M. in the morning or around 10 P.M. at night. I look around for the rental agency booths in the terminal and don't find them. I look for sign's a don't find them. I exit the terminal building and scan around the area just outside. Way on the other side of the parking lot are some very small hap-hazardly constructed structures, that kind of resemble a row of out houses.

Gee, I sure hope those are the rental car offices. I approach them and still can't tell until I get right up on them and see the sign's that are on the other side of the structures,  The side facing away from the terminal building. I guess they could not afford another sign facing the terminal, or a two sided sign on the top.

No matter which company I choose, that dude can't be found. Even though I called ahead and let them know when I was arriving. "Sure no problem. Well have your car ready for you." But the "Enterprise Renal Agent", is always there. They are usually a little higher priced, so I seldom rent from them. 

So its about 10 P.M. and my dude isn't there, but there is a number on the building to call. I call and it rings and rings, but no answer and no answering machine. By now the Enterprise Agent, a few buildings down, see's me looking confused and comes over to help me.

He tells me that place is closed. I fill him in, about how I called ahead, and then tried the number on the door. He say's, "Well, I know that guy, I've give him a call.". He calls and the dude answers right away (like he knows the person, so he is going to answer when his friend calls). They converse,  he hangs up, turns to me and says, "Yea that dude isn't going to make it out here tonight. He won't be in until tomorrow".  "Ok, I guess I can take a cab to my hotel and pick it up tomorrow around 9 A.M.". He say's, "You probably ought to make that around 10 A.M. That dude told me 9, which probably means 10".

I thought about calling the rental home office and telling them to pack sand, then asking Enterprise dude if he had a car to rent me. But once I commit to something, I seldom back out of it. So, I got a cab, went to the hotel, and arranged to have a cab bring me back around 10 A.M the next day.

I get there and the dude still isn't there. It's a nice day, so I sit down in the sun and wait. Surely he must be on his way, cause he knows I'm waiting on a car. About 10:30 A.M., I walk over the Enterprise office and smile at Enterprise dude. I ask him kindly, if he could call again. A few minutes later, "He said, he's running a little late, he'll be in around 11 A.M."

This type of time system, is what I call Island Time. 9 A.M. Island Time, means I'll get there not earlier then 10 A.M. and sometime after 10 A.M. depending on if I feel like going in right then or not.

While waiting, I strike up a conversation with Enterprise dude, about the pattern I've noticed. He said that's normal. I asked him, why does he keep normal hours? He says, someone from the home office calls him every morning at starting time, and they don't call his cell phone, they call the office phone. He said if he want's to keep his job, he needs to be there to answer it.

I seldom endorse a chain, but if I ever rent a car in Eastern Europe again, I think I'm going try Enterprise.

I was interested in what he could tell me about the Yugoslavian Civil war in the mid 1990's.  

Yugoslavia was a union of 6 countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hertezgovia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia). A dude who went by the nickname of "Tito", was the dictator who held it all together. He was a master at picking weak regional political leaders who backed him up, strengthening the military on his side, and giving the people just enough freedom to keep them happy while still controlling them.

Yugoslavia always had a much more open Communism then Russia or China. They allowed their citizens to travel and also have some other freedom's that are enjoyed in democratic countries. While still maintaining a communist government that controlled the people and some of the industries. The Yugoslavia national Army was based in Serbia and most of the soldiers where Serbian. However, weak local leaders and a strong military, presented a problem when Tito died. Most of the countries wanted their freedom, but Serbia wanted to control all of them, and they had the military. A civil war broke out, as countries tried to fight for their freedom. Both Bosnia and Montenegro share long borders with Serbia, so they allied with Serbia for a while. It wasn't until after the war was over, that they too broke away.

Enterprise dude said his dad was a ship captain, who had some friends in Italy. So during the war, when he was 5 years old,  he was sent away, while his dad stayed and fought. Another problem was that there were lots of inner marriages between the countries all fighting for freedom. So families either had to fight against each other, or choose a side to fight on and move to the side they choose. He was away from this family for about 5 years, then when he got back ,they had to rebuild.

Bosnian had above average intelligence and they rebounded fairly quickly, but there are still quite a few areas with land mines, that have not been thoroughly cleared. If you don't have a guide with you, it's best not to go off of the road too far. 

After he graduated, he spent a tour in their Navy. That's probably why we got along so well, and probably why he had some discipline for his age. Navy people are usually pretty laid back until there is a job to do, then they get it done.

My rental agent finally showed up a little before 11. He looks around the lot and ends up giving me a car that was a little nicer then the one that I had rented. He said, because it was already cleaned. It may have been clean, but it was pretty beat up. Eastern European roads aren't the best built nor are their cars. Usually they are very low horsepower and this was no exception. Ding's and marks all over it, from stone's hitting it. There was a piece of trim missing as well. We didn't even bother with the prior damage walk around making notes of all of the prior damage.

It rattled a little and the steering wasn't the tightest, but it seemed to run OK and I was glad just to be on the road, so away I went.

My Run in with the Law

Getting into a situation where we feel a lack control is never a comfortable situation. The best thing to do, is to try to ease our way into a better situation. These usually come in two areas; a run in with the law, and a run in with the opposite side of the law. Of those two situations, a run in with the law is the worse of the two.

Years ago, eastern bloc countries were tightly controlled by law enforcement. It wasn't uncommon to be pulled aside to have your paperwork looked over. Even though they are in a democracy, they still have a similar mentality. In twenty years that will probably go away, but I see signs of it lingering around.

While driving through small town after small town in Bosnia, I kept seeing a recurring pattern. A main road with a very slow speed limit, say 30 km/hr (18 mph). Just before or after the main intersection a police car would be off to the side, but the police were not in the car. They are both out enjoying the sun shine. One would be randomly motioning cars to pull over, then approaching them to talk to them. From my viewpoint, it looked like mostly small talk. Small town constable probably knows everybody in town and is just pulling them over to chat (they are all on island time). Sherriff Andy Griffith was doing the talking, while Deputy Fife was standing at the ready, in case he needed to pull out his pistol.

Time after time, I was relieved, as they pulled the car in front of me over. Because then I knew I was going to be cleared to go through while they were distracted.  I could tell they knew these people, cause the were smiling as they pulled them over.

I hit one small town, and the Sheriff motions me to the side, but he isn't smiling at me. He was looking at me like, "dude long haired, hippy type, pinko fags, have a lot of nerve coming though my town." As I came to a stop, I returned his concerned and unhappy scowl with a half smile and a deep look of respect. I am dying to say something like, "So Andy, how's Aunt B doing?", but as I roll down the window, I speak in my best servant voice, "Sir, did I do something wrong?", and by the pissed off look in this face, that's when I discover he doesn't speak a word of English.

I can see the shrapnel scares in his arms. This dude fought in the war, and in this area, he was mostly likely on the side that was opposite of the American's who were backing the NATO troops. This is not looking good for the away team.  

He steps back and motions for me to get out of the car. I oblige, in a manner that was cautious, confident, and respectful. Barney was closely watching my every move from the other side of the car. The sheriff motion's me around front and shows me that one of my head lights is out. It's still a few hours until dark, but this car has day time running lights that are always on.

I had a lot of things going through my mind:

Did the dude at the rental car place set me up?

Is this one of those countries where you ask if you can pay the fine to the policeman, and he say's,  "Sure, that will be twenty bucks and two of those cold beers in your ice cooler.", then he sends you on your way. 

Is this one of those countries where you ask if you can pay the fine to the policeman, and he halls you off to jail for bribery? 

I sure wish that I would have went with the Enterprise dude.

As I am contemplating what to do, he walk's from the front of my car to back. I decide to get back in, to retrieve the rental car paper. I am looking for him, to give him the paperwork, when he abruptly motion's for me to get the hell out of town.

Yes sir, you bet I will, just as fast as this piece of crap will go.

After that, I drove with the lights and high beams on during the day and made sure I wasn't driving after dark. 

Now I always check my lights, when I rent a car, before I leave the lot.


There is just nothing in the world, quite like the many variations of Bosnian Pot. Enjoyed by the rich and poor for hundreds of years, it's still a favorite everywhere. No it's not Marijuana, it's like a pot roast, only with several meats, cabbage, lots of vegetables, garlic and whole peppercorns. Delicious, no matter whose company we partake of it in and different, in different regions and households




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Culture | Travel

Comments (2) -

Jim Patrick
4/30/2015 5:08:53 AM #

Humans love to fight their neighbors.  I was stopped at a road block in Austria once by a female officer in a bright green suit holding an automatic weapon.  She was studying my Georgia USA license and I asked her if there was a problem.  She said no, she just had never seen a license like that before.  Yes ma'am, just don't strafe my rental car.


6/11/2015 4:19:58 AM #

Ha Ha Ha
Great story.


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