Showing posts from April, 2012


All of last summer we watched little lizards scramble over the wall opposite our house. I would say that with the exception of a singular salamander I happened upon while out cycling these were the only reptiles we saw but the glossy black fellow with bright orange spots was actually an amphibian. This year we're barely into a convincing spring and we've already run into a host of interesting creatures. Pictured far right is what is probably a slowworm, which would have been sunning itself had the sun been shining. He was very unresponsive, as this YouTube video shows. In the centre we have one of two turtles, tortoises, or terrapins that I didn't tread on today. We were visiting a local campsite and they were hanging out by the car park, clearly too young to be wise in the ways of the world. As for the guy on the left, I'm prepared to take suggestions as to exactly what he is. What I do know is he is lucky, as a lizard with no tail has almost certainly escaped s

Double rainbow over Jajce

After spending last weekend joking with friends from Mostar about catching up on Herzegovinan rain we have had some of our own this week. It has to be said that, in our experience at least, the rain in Jajce does not fall with the same intensity it does in Mostar. Nor is it so unrelenting. The flipside of this is the summer sun does not shine so long, or so unrelentingly, in Central Bosnia. If the mid-forties are your thing Mostar is undoubtedly the place to go. It's the kind of place where anything below 30C at 11pm on a summer evening starts to feel cool. If you prefer summer highs to hover around the mid-thirties then you'd probably appreciate Jajce's climate. But back to the rain. Yesterday Jajce was alternating between quick, heavy downpours and bright sunshine. As you've probably realised by now, this is good rainbow weather. And so it was, when I was walking home from work that I was treated to a small shower and a great view. I had hoped to get a better vid

A game-changer?

By some happy coincidence we ending up being in Mostar this weekend as the city's new Mepas Mall opened. When we lived in Mostar we watched the old hospital buildings where it now stands being demolished. We witnessed the digging of an enormous hole and watched as a giant concrete structure began to appear. Then we moved to Jajce. Almost two years on the construction is complete and it's open for business. Business on the opening weekend was busier than we've ever seen in a shopping centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Shoppers and sight-seers were out in force, but we saw enough people parading fresh purchases to guess the shops won't be disappointed by early trade. The first night queues in McDonalds – only the country's third, and its first outside Sarajevo – were huge. We waited over half an hour to get served; so not exactly fast food, although you can't blame the staff for that. The next day security guards had been stationed to manage the melee. While t


I like driving. This is a good thing as a lot of my work here in Bosnia and Herzegovina revolves around driving. Almost all the driving I've done in the last three and a half years has been behind the wheel of one of Novi Most 's Volkswagen Transporter vans. I won't claim extensive knowledge of this catagory of vehicle but I will say the Volkswagens drive better than any Ford Transit or Renault Traffic I've driven, particularly when road conditions are less than perfect. Conditions are thus a lot of the time; either due to the immediate impact of weather, the aftermath of weather or attempts to repair the damage both of the above cause. I made this video on Monday, when I spent almost eight hours doing a there-and-back-again trip. In five minutes it gives a good glimpse of what it looks like to be behind the wheel in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Twenty years on

Much has been written, tweeted and retweeted, today about the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 11,541 red chairs laid out in Sarajevo to commemorate those who died there. I saw this photo on Facebook and felt it expressed my feelings better than I could in words. This stretch of street in Sarajevo is a place we know well now - we were last there last weekend - but I have no idea what it was like to be there during the siege, although we have friends who spent four years trapped inside the city. Occasionally war stories crop up in conversation but it's never something we've asked questions about. We will never be part of that past but we are here now, working for the future of the people here. It is right that, on all sides, what happened is not forgotten; that it is remembered so it never happens again. That twenty years from now the country can look back on two decades of peace and progress, not a descent again into division and destruction. (If you'v

Floating opportunities

After a busy weekend in Sarajevo, today was a day off. I decided to make the most of the sunshine and head out on my mountain bike around the lakes near Jajce. I'd been going about an hour when I stumbled across this sight: the super-sized marriage of a decoy duck and a pedalo. Obviously, a photograph was essential, not just for its comedic value but because it illustrates an important attitude we have to our work here. Last summer we ran a month of activities with Novi Most for young people in Jajce. At the end of August we asked those who been involved for some feedback. Of the seventeen who filled out our questionnaires fifteen acknowledged they had some new experience over the summer: for some it was visiting a new city; for others it was going down a water slide at an aqua park; others went up an escalator for the first time. Having new experiences, at least fun, positive ones, is an exciting thing. The young people we worked with over the summer ended up with a better sense o