Wading through the photos of our 2014 trip down the Balkan Peninsula, I was a bit confused about what was what. I can show Ron a photo of anywhere we visited throughout more than thirty countries, and ‘bingo’ he will identify the city, the country and many of the details that have slipped my mind. But I know I’m driving him crazy with my questions.
It’s like the old comedy sketch – “Who’s on first?” Abbott and Costello on YouTube. Check it out, it’s hilarious.
Just 58 miles across the Adriatic Sea from Italy lies the Balkan Peninsula. And though it is beautiful countryside, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro have been terribly affected by the war. A friend of mine who left her home and business in Bosnia with her husband and two small boys, seeking political asylum, tells how lucky they were to escape. They have horror stories of being barricaded in their home with mattresses over windows deflecting flying bullets. Yet she always remembers the natural resources of her native Bosnia with great affection.
I still have trouble accurately separating some of our photos. Croatia? Bosnia and Herzegovina? Montenegro? Dalmatia? Several of the names have changed. But in the larger scheme of things it isn’t odd, considering Burma is now Myanmar, Bombay is Mumbai, Saigon is Ho Chi Minh City, and if you try to get to Constantinople, you’ll end up in Istanbul. And frankly, why would you?
As the Hirn Family drove the Camper down the Balkan Coast, Ron and I were reminded of our 1st ‘Big Trip’ together, prekids, 22 years ago. In 1992, we had bought an old VW Camper in Germany and traveled for 8 month thru 20+ European countries, simply reading and exploring the continent(and each other). The Yugoslav Wars were in full swing, so visiting the Balkan Peninsula was pretty much a mute point for us. Seeing this beautiful area of former Yugaslavia with our boys was particularly special knowing the great loss of human life and suffering that took place there 2 decades ago. So at the end of each day with the boys, we set up a campfire to discuss our adventure, share our impressions, and remember our own great loss, yet count our many blessings.
Taking one day at a time was just one of the valuable lessons we learned as a family on this trip. There was no rushing around, and nobody particularly worried about the geographical boundaries. And we rarely had to answer the question: “Are we there yet?”
And though I may not be able to identify Bosnia-Herzegovina in photos, I will try to always remember these precious days we shared with each other and our sons.