gmhTODAY 10 gmhToday Sept Oct 2016 - Page 96

was Catholic, the wife, Muslim, and their son, a Political Science major at a nearby college, had no religious affiliation. The conversation was very open and informative. Our local Bosnian guide for the three days we spent in Sarajevo also indicated that her diverse group of friends, Croats, Serbs, and Muslims all got along well. Our guide had lost not only her parents in the war, but also an aunt, and was brought up by her grandmother. I was impressed to see such positive recovery from tragedy. Our tour of the “Tunnel of Hope” by the airport, where people were ferried out and supplies brought in during wartime, further educated us about the struggles and loss of lives experienced during these tumultuous years. More than 10,0000 people were killed in the war and current investigative efforts have brought to light the genocide involved. Before arriving in Sarajevo, I had been impressed by the cleanliness of Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia, but here, graffiti was prevalent on many buildings, and many were in disrepair. The people seem to have recovered, but the economy still needs to improve. The political situation, 96 with Presidents from each of the three main ethnic groups (Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian) alternating their terms, and rumored corruption, does not seem to be improving. From Sarajevo we traveled back into Croatia, this time into the interior countryside of farms and quaint villages. We were able to experience life on a local farm in Karanac where we spent the night after going to neighboring farms for home-hosted dinners. Our “day in the life of” had us making cheese, work- ing on making pottery, and enjoying an incredibly fresh and delicious farm breakfast. I came away realizing how peaceful, how supportive, and how much hard work life in a farming community could be. Like everything else, there were definite pros and cons. Everyone knew their neighbors and helped one another out; and most lived, worked and stayed in their local community. Our dinner hosts, for instance, had never been on a commercial airplane, and in all their lives had probably traveled less than 150 miles from home. There was not a lot of wealth; however, the farms were well kept, and GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 the hard work needed to take care of the crops, animals and land, kept everyone thoroughly occupied. From the Croatian countryside, we headed northward to one of its largest cities, Zagreb. The contrast was striking coming from a quiet small farming town to a large bustling city with traffic, trams, apartment houses, and highways. However, Zagreb still had its charm with the historic hilltop “Upper” town reached by funicular or multiple stairways, many beautiful churches including the Cathedral of St. Stephen in all its neo- Gothic splendor, interesting museums, and the colorful Dolac Market where hand-made goods, flowers, and plentiful fresh produce were on display. Exploring the countryside outside Zagreb, we visited Kumrovec. The birth- place of Marshal Tito, president of the former Yugoslavia, now housed an open- air museum focusing on traditional ways of life a century ago. Our overland trip by private bus to the coast of Croatia included a stop to explore and hike through the magnificent Plitvice Lakes, a 114 square mile national park with 16 turquoise lakes linked by water- gmhtoday.com