You would think that we had already had a very good overview of Sarajevo buy reading my previous Blog post, but no…. there is more! The next part of our visit was just the best! We chose to do this add on tour right at the start of the holiday purely because of the write up on the ‘Insight Vacations’ brochure… And we weren’t disappointed. It was a very memorable experience and the food was delicious!
SARO6 HOME HOSTED DINNER
A unique and rewarding in sight into the local way of life.
Small groups of 5 or 6 guests are invited into a Sarajevan
family home for a welcome drink and dinner. Savour the
warm hospitality and authentic cuisine as you hear
inspirational stories about their culture and recent
struggles. Dinner is typical of the region, usually soup,
stuffed vegetables and kebabs. Wine, beer, or fruit juice is
also included. Coffee or tea with baklava is served for
Only 24 of us chose this experience and we all thought it was one of the best experiences we had had so far this tour. It was the easiest way to discover exactly what life was like for the average Sarajevan citizen during the four years of the Bosnian war from 1992-1996, and also what their everyday life is like now!
Now! None of us should ever moan about our living conditions or the size of our house. We New Zealanders are extremely spoilt (well the majority are anyway). We usually have separate houses with two or three bedrooms (maybe more), and with a grassed lawn area in front and behind. Some of us live in apartments or blocks of flats but they are usually still quite roomy and very comfortable. Our host family have lived in their one bedroom, very small apartment for 35 years! the couple brought up their three children there! Two boys and a girl! can you imagine two very active little boys growing up with no room to run around and play? I had four sons and I know that they need space for getting rid of energy and they also make lots of noise! The husband was working night shift as a customs officer, and the daughter who lives at home still with her two young sons, was at work also. So the mother not only cooked, was our hostess for the evening, but also looked after her two grandsons as well! What an amazing lady! She smiled the whole time and didn’t appear stressed at all! And the boys demanded her attention very often!
You can see that we are sitting in the dining room, at the table, ready to start our dinner. What you can’t see is that the chairs are right up against the wall. The door to the left leads to a small lounge room. This is also the bedroom for the daughter and her two sons (the daughter is recently divorced and has moved back home). At the entrance is a very small hallway which has the one bedroom to the right and the bathroom to the left. The door behind our host leads to her very narrow tiny kitchen. It has the sink bench (with dishwasher….yay) one side and fridge and stove on the other. The doors open back onto the fridge and the stove! Arghhhh…. what a kitchen to work in! and for 35 years! How does she do it????? The kitchen also leads out to a very tiny deck which as she explained to us is used for drying washing and also storage! But she served us the most delicious meal!
During the war years our host family had young children including a baby. She told us that there was no easy access to running water and washing nappies was a major problem. Sickness was also a huge challenge. Natural remedies were often the only medicine available and that people just adjusted lives to the situation they were in. The neighbours all knew and supported each other and rallied together to help meet each others needs. They also shared in each others sorrows when family members or friends were either killed or injured in the war. They became very practical and would use any available ground for growing vegetables and mostly ate what they grew. The staple diet was rice provided by the UN, and Nera said that after four years of eating rice, she chooses to avoid rice at every occasion nowdays! The interesting thing was that as a child Nera said that war for her was a fun time. She didn’t attend school the whole four years and her game of choice was collecting the empty gun shells along with all her friends!
After our fabulous meal and very informative conversation, it was time to get back to the Hotel. The exiting experience very exciting. We were 12 floors up and the lift just simply didn’t come, no matter how many times we pushed the button! So the decision was to walk down, and that is also very normal for the inhabitants of this housing building. The light is a timed light and we had to push the button at each floor because if you didn’t, the whole stair well would be in complete darkness! This happened on our first lot of stairs as we were all talking. Nera felt her way to the next switch in darkness while we stood in shock as it was so dark! And they have lived here for 35 years!!!!!
We all need to remember the living situations of others less fortunate and be so very thankful for all we have. Never take our life for granted! We are extremely blessed!