This tour continues to pull me in even when I think I want out and to be in my own bed at home in Oakland, CA. Yes–I do miss Oakland and the Bay Area but then I put those thoughts aside and think—wait a sec, I am in such historic places and meeting the warmest people and all the while playing my cello and with my friends in the quartet–I can hold off on my own digs for a while…
Our week in Bosnia & Herzegovina was great. The recent 1990’s Balkan war history certainly does permeate the air and in each city we visited, there were enough visual reminders on apartment buildings that this country and its people have certainly endured a lot. I’m not sure the “separate but equal” method I perceive works but it’s better than “ethnic cleansing”. Both terms are equally bad-in theory and in practice. The folk song we prepared to play at our concerts was enjoyed throughout the county but then we could not exactly mention it by name in certain places, lest it should offend. So, sensitivities remain on alert. But then meeting people in both Republika Srpska and in the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina was equally special. Like anywhere–once you meet someone and share in some national beverage or better yet–in some music making–you are fast friends.
Our latest friends were the rock-n-rollers from BalkanEros. They are a cool band from the town of Zenica (a working town as the director of the city museum told me when walking us to our hotel at 11 p.m. on an empty street). Their band includes a lead singer with a great voice and dark, sunken eyes. He told me that my nickname–Jess-in Bosnian means “what’s up?”, so that confused him at first. BalkanEros taught us one of their tunes, an American blues song in fact, and then we played a Bosnian song together called “Bolero Negotino”. It was a great concert with a standing room only crowd including 80 music students!
Our hotel-the famous Hotel Europa, in Sarajevo was a real treat. It is located right in the heart of the old city and near Imam Bey’s famous mosque from 1531 and the old Sephardic synagogue from 1581! It was also just a quick jaunt from the famous Latin Bridge where Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were assassinated. As Dina said, “turn left at the start of World War I and then a right at the Ottoman Empire and we should be there”. Legend has it that you have to drink from the fountain at the mosque to ensure that you will return to Sarajevo. I made sure to do that and I also am making sure that my next visit will be in the summer!
Yes I finally pulled out the silk drawers and now feeling much warmer. Also bought a gorgeous handmade wool scarf in Sarajevo with Bosnian design and this will no doubt help keep me warm over the next 10 days.
we are now in Riga–only been here for a few hours and it does seem magical mostly because there is a glowing layer of new snow on the ground and that just puts me in a jolly winter mood!
here’s a pic of our post gig meal with BalkanEros in Zenica from Wednesday night. That platter of food was gone in 20 minutes!!