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Friday, May 6, 2011

TEA WITH MIRZA

BLOG READERSHIP - OF ALL TIME

The top readers of all time (country wise) are - in order from most to least - United States, New Zealand, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Sweden.



SETTING THE SCENE

I am currently in a bar called Zembilj listening to Guns and Roses (Sweet Child of Mine) song. Prior to this they were playing music that if there was a 'bottom 40' would have probably made it. For months. I'm showing them just how long I can nurse a beer. I think they're a bit shocked as I've been here for awhile soaking up their internet. And I'll be here for awhile yet typing up this blog. Aside from the music, I like the bar - not gaudy and with a lot of dark woods and sturdy furniture. Like the rest of the bars in this country, it smells of stale tobacco smoke and strange scents blown in from the exotic (not erotic TJ) goods sold in the market it is in the center of. I don't know if I'll be able find it again as I consistently get myself lost in the labyrinth of twists and turns in the old town market.



TRAVELER'S TIP

In your fake wallet, carry the amount of cash you are allowed to spend on this day - ONLY. In that way, you can keep within your budget. Sure, you might need to use a restroom somewhere and dig more out of your hidden stash of money but this method does keep you from overspending what seems to be 'funny money' (valueless).



HOSTEL 'S'

I can't remember the name right now of the place I'm staying but I found out from sleeping a night there that it has a couple interesting things. If someone farts in the next room, you hear it. Thin walls. Consider them partition screens. Also, in order to save a couple of dollars on beds, they are using that 'slat' shit. Problem - if a slat breaks, they repair them by spreading out the remaining ones. I have partially rearranged (thought it looks trashed - it's not) the beds so that I could make space to put a couple of mattresses stacked on the floor. The slat bed nearly crippled my ass. Dealing with the thin walls, I am more concerned about the people next to me. I suspect they won't be staying long due to what we call "Pete's Theory".



PETE'S THEORY

Logan will eventually have any room where ever he is to himself due to snoring.



MUSEUM

I went to a very small museum today. I probably spent a half hour in there. It was mildly interesting. I very much appreciated the cost (2 BAM). The best thing they had in there was a ten year old hand made model of the old town. I took several pictures which I hope to get good enough internet someday to upload. They didn't mind me taking pictures when I assured them they wouldn't show up in a magazine. I think they were reassured when they saw my crappy camera. They also had some unidentified non-alcoholic 'traditional drink' I sampled but really couldn't describe. I'm not even sure if I liked it or not. I suspect the fact it is not available in stores means nobody else was sure either. I was given a private tour by a young German speaking man until a gaggle of school children entered and he had to go protect the exhibits. I happily watched the kids being subjected to 'culture'.



FOOD

For breakfast, I had 'screna dolma'. It was 7 BAM and not traditionally a breakfast food. They don't seem to have any traditional breakfast foods. Rice soup with meat in it and pita bread. I thought it was a good breakfast. I discovered later that the restaurant it was from is family owned. Everything is made fresh daily and when they run out of food, they simply close. Weird.

A lot of locals don't order a drink with their food. I've noticed that the food cost (like my lunch) might be 12 BAM and the drink 5 BAM. If you can wait to get to a kiosk after lunch, you can get the same drink for half or a third of what the restaurant gouges you for.



BEGGARS

I may sound like I'm kidding but I'm not when I say that the beggars here are dressed much better than I am.



INTERVIEW WITH MIRZA

Here are some random facts I noted down from my interview with Mirza. I found that he is a really knowledgeable person and can easily range over a lot of different topics. I think if I ran into more people like him, I'd be happier and much better informed. I think that I really got a heck of a deal for a 2 BAM cup of tea to talk to him! I will be talking to him more as he works at the hostel I am staying at for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week - and believes he has a pretty good job. Interesting! Logan's comments are in []'s. Quotes from Mirza are in " "'s. [Mirza - if I mess up any of your quotes, please put it in the 'comments' section below! If you tell me direct, I may forget.] Also note, I got a picture of Mirza and Minela (she cleans the hotel) - it will be uploaded when I get more consistent internet.

Average pay - private sector, 500 BAM/month. Government, 1200 BAM/month - which is considered 'good' money.

Bosnians just got the ability to travel in Europe without a visa. They may start leaving to find work elsewhere.

I had asked Mirza about the war and he said he didn't like to talk about it. A few minutes later, he realized he was deep in conversation about the war. "It's inevitable." This helped illustrate to me that I don't really need to bring up the war - anyone I talk to long enough will on their own.

From the minute the war ended, it was safe here. [I've felt perfectly safe everywhere I've traveled. I've spotted a few shady characters who were checking me out for scams or robbery but I've used tradecraft to elude/irritate/frustrate them or let them know there are easier targets. Plus, I have no obvious (or hidden, sadly) wealth.]

They have places of worship for orthodox, Catholics, Jews and Muslims - all within 200-300 meters of each other here in Sarajevo.

"Money is the first, second and third problems. No money, no honey."

Good companies give 21 days of vacation here.

With money, people are very close to the 'edge'. [They aren't on 'food quest' here but finances are stretched very tight.]

Up to thirty years old, people may live with their parents.

At clubs and such, women tend to drink more than men.

The divorce rate is about the same as in the USA - half or more. Most divorces [like seem to be in the USA] have their roots in money issues.

"XXX" stuff is illegal - not on the basis of religion. Prostitutes and such are available for prices between 50 to 400 HUF. Obviously, the low end gives you some really interesting, dirty, nasty etc stuff. [No, I have no interest in 'sexual tourism' here. But it is interesting to report on.]

Beware of women in the Balkans - the men folk are often irrationally jealous. [I told him that I was safe from this sort of jealousy based on my physical appearance and the utter lack of sexual interest from women I meet.]

Sixty percent of the country is Muslim. There is a popular conspiracy theory that the war was stopped when the Bosnians were winning because it wasn't going the way that the people keeping it going wanted it to go. It wasn't stopped when civilians were getting massacred and such. The entire war could have just been a plot to wipe out the Muslims.

Sarajevo is the first city in Europe to have toilets.

Every story (and government here) has three sides. Everything is in triplicate.

The current flag (yellow and blue with stars) was designed by Western European designers as the three governments here couldn't agree.

The famous tunnel imported food for the siege during the war. They were selling things at ten times the normal cost. The war may have been about profit. The tunnel was used for three years. [One of the things here that a lot of people talk about is 'the tunnel'. They have quite expensive tours to see it. This tunnel a couple guys dug - one from each end and met in the middle. I'm not sure if they did it with no tools or no power tools. The tunnel was made to get supplies in to the city during it's siege. The military apparently took control of it and used it to make (by local standards) a lot of money. In talking with the locals, they seem agreed on two things a) you are only able to see a small part of the tunnel and b) it looks like a tunnel. I've personally be in caves that have gypsum flowers, columns, stalactites, etc - what do I want to see with a hand dug tunnel that I can only see a few feet of? This has confused some of the locals who say 'but the history'! I assure them that they have just given me the history and I can save my money for something like dental work.]

'Chow' is used as a greeting and goodbye.

Within Sarajevo, there was more comradery during the war.

When the war first started in March of 1992, there was a foreign army here - it was not a 'civil war'.

Gays are not popular/accepted here.

'White gypsies'. These are gypsies with lighter skin who have assimilated into the culture.

In costs, Beograd is a notch below Sarajevo and Macedonia is notch below them.

Government corruption is a big problem.



SIDEWALK DRIVERS

Parking up on the sidewalks is no big deal. If the sidewalk has big 'cars keep the fuck out' posts, people may drive their car to an area without them, up on the sidewalk and park next to the posts - on the sidewalk. I have no idea if the cops care or not.



LOGAN'S RESIDENCE

I've paid for the week at the hostel. I rearrange the furniture to be able to put a couple mattresses on the floor because the slat beds are killing my back. Apparently, if a slat gets broken, the rest are just re-spaced further apart. I wish owners of hotels and hostels were required to regularly sleep in all of the beds. For months.

I can already feel myself becoming restless, ready to move on to the next country. I'm thinking it my money gets low enough, I'm just going to India or something to see how cheaply I can live.

If I was physically stronger, I'd be able to carry a tent and sleeping bag. Not sure if I'll ever be able to do that with my physical condition but it would allow me to get more out in the country. Where I can find less people who speak English.



NOTEBOOK

Due to my constant scribbling, I seem to have filled yet another notebook. I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm not famous enough to have my secretary take it to the Smithsonian for putting in their preserving cases. And I'm unwilling to lug it around. It will probably be trashed but I'll probably wait till after I am ready to move on from here before trashing it. It just feels a bit wrong to do so but I can't say why. Maybe I wrote something important in it I should be looking at? Hum...

4 comments:

  1. send your notebook to someone to keep it for you til you have settled down somewhere in the future? Silly rabbit, Trix R 4 kidz...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why don't you just mail your filled notebooks to someone back here in the US? Or would that be ridiculously expensive?

    ReplyDelete
  3. You could post your notebook to someone to keep. If they are small thin ones, can probably get a cheap letter rate stamp.
    (Note: not me, I don't care...)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Not sure how much it would cost to mail them, not sure if I want them even after I settle down. I am trying to live a life without clutter - a life of simplicity.

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap |

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