Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Reminder of how beautiful Kotor Montenegro is...

In my travels last week, I saw Kotor Montenegro again.  It is a lovely city.  And it’s nice because it can only hold 1 smaller cruise ship at a time.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Had bit of a Geo-Political Orgasm Today

It has been a hell of a trip. Today was one of the coolest days ever.  This is Aris Seferovic, the head of the UN Mission in Bosnia.  And by Head, I mean the Resident Coordinator AND the Head of UN Development Programs!!!

So Jen and I meet with him and had coffee. Of course we talked about the project and next steps.  

But then we spent 45 minutes more talking, in general on the state of Bosnia Herzegovina in both economic and political terms. Where they are next, who to work with, what are next steps for the country. You know the internal workings of the BiH government and the UN political scene and the newly passed UN reorganization.  With a UN Head!!!!

I totally Geo-nerded out. It was one of the best days EVER (you know, except for Eddie).

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Location of Water Project

These are come pictures of the Neretva River in Jablanica in Herzegovina (part of Bosnia Herzegovina).  The river is great, but the water is very polluted.

We, in Project 1948, are working on a UN Water Project in Bosnia integrated with our photo-voice projects. After speaking with the Bosnian Ministry, we are looking here, in Jablanica do to it. Despite the presence of a nearby river, they need potable drinking water.

And there is an interesting train bridge attack that has a museum too.

There Goes The Neighborhood: Mostar Edition

Well, Mostar is still a fantastic and amazing city. But, it’s beauty and proximity to Dubrovnik now works against it.

How, you ask?

Well, tour groups now come from the Cruise Ships and at various times, waves upon waves of  descend following little flags, numbers of umbrellas.  In swatches the city becomes overrun.  

Jen and I hit a few patches, but generally we enjoyed the hell out of it.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Me, Jen and The Bosnian Minister of Foreign Investment!

Yes, you read that right.  Jen (Dr. White) and myself of Project 1984 meet with THE Minister of Foreign Investment about water infrastructure projects in Bosnia.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Upper Ostrog Monestary

For the true believer the only way from the lower to the upper Monestary is to hike the 3 kilometers uphill, barefoot.  I actually did see one family doing this pilgrimage, pushing a pram- it started raining and they had both a baby and a toddler, I don’t think they made it.

The rest of us drove most of the way and then walked the last 300 meters or so, uphill. Even that was tough.  The upper Ostrog Monestary was built into the mountain in the late 1600s and dedicated to Saint Basil (Serbian Orthodox). It was burnt and rebuilt in the 1920s, but the small Dave chapels in the large white building above were spared the flames.

The buildings above are where the monks live. I saw quite a few. They seem content with life in that semi-dated priestly way. But boy they smelled a lot. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” must be an American saying.

Below are images from the tile frescos of the small cave church.  It was really impressive that they have been there for 350 years - although clearly kept up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ostrog Monastery - Lower Monestary

I went to Ostrog Monastery yesterday. It was a pretty damn cool place.  There is an upper and lower monestary. The lower monestary is pretty basic, until you actually see it. Even the pillars to it were layered with mosaics.

Here it is from the outside.

But it was the inside of this little church that was amazing.  It was covered in paintings that were so vibrant.  It was amazing.  A big picture and detail below.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Interesting comparison of Montenegro

Montenegro is about 15,000 sq kilometers, that’s the size of LA and Orange County combined.  But LA / Orange County have about 13,000,000 people, Montenegro has about 600,000 - roughful the size of Milwaukee.

Time is up in Perast

I’m leaving Perast (and Montenegro) tomorrow. It has been wonderful and surreal.

I know I probably won’t be back.  I have seen most of Montenegro- and as much as I love it, I am not sure I have a good reason to drag anyone back with me.

But wandering the town tonight I am struck by the sense of familiar and comforting. The smell of the sea mixes with the scent of the night blooming Jasmine in a way I only know of in Southern California.  The hills rising up are like the San Gabriels after a winter of good rain.  It is all so familiar and calming, and yet different and fascinating. I can’t really put it into words.  Sort of a deja vu homesickness mixed with surprise.  I sat tonight at a bayside cafe, drank a glass of wine and read my book. I felt like I could do it forever.

Of course, I can’t.  The Esther has been perfect and the hug e crowds of tourists arrive in a few weeks, so i know this is a moment that can’t be recaptured.  But I have loved the moment.

Some pics of the town.

A church and detail from the 1700s.

The main church from the 1700s. And the Clock tower.

Scariest Drive in ... EVER

Yesterday I drove from Cetinje back to Kotor over the mountain. They said the ride was tough, but  but they were working on a new road.

So I left Cetinje and the road was great.  New, wide (too new for speed limit signs - so quick too). It’s about 1,000 feet up from Cetinje and then around 3,000 ft (1,000 meters) down to Kotor.

Beautiful views, life was a dream.  Until the top. At the top they  built a new tunnel.  It was not finished, but they waved me through. It was dark, unsaved and unlit.

But that was the best of the rest.

I came out onto a road that was about 1.25 lanes wide, with a 3,000 ft drop on one side with intermittent barriers (those being rock - except where they had been run into over the years - there nothing).

Yes the picture above is from the lane closest to the wall.  You may say, hey - you were on the hill side not so bad.  Nope there were hairpin turns. A few. 24 exactly (they were marked). It was fucking scary as hell.  No real place to turn around, but I did think about it and the 2.5 hour drive to go the other way!

It did get wider at the hairpin turns.  But look at that drop!!!!

About a third of the way down, there was a wide scope where I stopped to take this picture.

So it was freaky and bad, but then - a bit past where I took the picture above, there was a bus stuck trying to pass a group of cars. A BUS!!!  A tour bus!  What the hell.  After 10 minutes of excruciating back and forth, with cars going up and down having to back up, the bus got past. Then we all passed the bus on one of the hairpin turns.  The bus took it wide and we all cut underneath.

I thought I was going to wet myself.

The bus and the backup.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cetinje today

Today I drove to Cetinje.  This was the old capital of Montenegro from about 1875 until WWI.  Even though Montenegro fought on the “good” / winning side, it was given to Yugoslavia / Serbia after the war.

Having recently beaten The Ottoman Empire, The built a very European city. Circa 1900s Paris / Vienna.

This was the Main government building.  Assembly and various departments (post office, transportation, etc). It is now the Museum of Montenegro on first floor and Art Museum on second. 

The old French Embassy.

Detail from the old Palace.

The old palace of the King.

I don’t know what this was but it is very cool!

Russian Embassey

British Embassy

There are tons of street cafes.