The hostel runs a tour of Mostar and the area. It lasted 14 hours, involved a non-airconditioned van, very loud music, and more history and information about the area than I realized. We started with some very loud Michael Jackson music and a drive through Mostar.
There is a school there is lauded for being integrated; however, the students are in the same building but do not attend the same classes or use the same curriculum. Doesn’t seem to be ideally integrated, but perhaps it’s a baby step? While driving through town, our guide pointed out the cross on top of the hill. Apparently it’s a bit of a slap in the face to Bosniacs/Muslims as it marks the spot from where attacks upon the city were made, including rolling tires filled with dynamite down the hill onto the town.
Before we left town, we stopped to get byrek. I spell it that way, because that is how it was spelled in Albania and it seems to be the same thing – it’s a light, flaky phyllo pastry with cheese, meat, spinach or potato filling. In Albania, they were about the size of your palm. Here, they were bigger than my face! It was amazing! And cost just about $3 (take that overly expensive Western Europe; I haven’t had anything better!)
So we were filled up with food and our next stop, I think (14 hours was a long time and we did a lot!) was Medjugorje. It’s a spot where six kids saw the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1981. It has now turned into a huge pilgrimage site. One of the original six still lives in the area and says she still receives visits from the Virgin Mary. There were lots and lots of vendors selling all kinds of items from handkerchiefs and necklaces to lighters and mirrors with the Virgin Mary on them. The Vatican is in the process of investigating the site to determine its validity (I’m not quite sure if that’s the right word). There is a large metal statue of Jesus on the cross that is a weeping cross – there are three cracks/seams where water continually drips/tears out of the statue for no explainable reason.
From there, again this is going on what seems to be some fuzzy memories, we headed to the waterfalls. Of course during all this time we were being entertained/bombarded/informed by our tour guide about the recent history of the area. Very interesting and a lot to take in.
It was very hot, in the 90s for sure, and we could hear the rush of the waterfalls for awhile before we could see them. Sounded very refreshing. The water in the river was a brilliant green/turquoise. Random fact 1 about them – they are called waterfalls of the little cows. We kept our eye out, but we saw no little cows.
Random fact 2 – Older people have had heart attacks from the shock of the coldness of the water when they get in. It’s about 40 degrees. But dive in (or slide in at the side, I don’t/can’t dive) we did. It took my breath away, but there were no options for trying to catch it again – the current was fairly strong and I paddled to the opposite bank, switching between a crawl/doggie paddle and a backstroke, all the while lamenting that I wasn’t in better shape and a stronger swimmer. Got to the other side without any problems and started to scramble about on the rocks. It was quite slick and the current was definitely still strong. There were options of places to jump off, but I found plenty of enjoyment in the shallows!