Back in the USSR (Day 21)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008.

I woke up at 9:00, feeling a tiny bit hungover, but thankfully, not ill. The plague spread a little during the night and the vast majority of us were sick as dogs. Miki canceled our group activities and said he’d work on finding medicine from his cousin’s clinic. When he came back, those of us not ill helped pass out electrolyte powder and anti-nausea medicine.

York, Sam, and I decided to remove ourselves from Hotel Infirm and spent most of the afternoon in a pizzeria, eating the most delicious oven-cooked pizza yet. We mostly avoided the topic most on our minds – our last night and a group goodbye. Instead, we made plans to visit each other and talked about the rest of our trips – Sam to Italy, York to Sweden, me to Scotland.

When we got back to the hotel, some people were feeling marginally better, some marginally worse. Miki called a quick, last-minute meeting to say goodbye and go over a few logistics, then left us to sort out our plans for the evening.

We had a bit of a group hug in my room around 8:30. After repacking and a quick shower, some of us decide the free Joan Baez concert in the Bascarsija is actually worth the walk down the hill.

It certainly was worth it. She was poised and beautiful and her voice is as incredible now as it was 30 years ago. She sang “Christmas in Washington” and told a story about how a newspaper during the war had reported that she arrived in Sarajevo on a parachute and not on the UN airlift she actually arrived with.

We danced a little and sang a little more and watched the full moon rise just over her head in the open-air stage. She finished the night gracefully, with two encores. The first was a wonderful cover of “Imagine”. After more applause, she did a second encore of “Blowin’ in the Wind”, pausing mid-song to allow the call to prayer to be heard. She restarted the song and we looked at each other, realizing that our trip could not have ended in a better way.

York, Sean, Liz and I went on a rabid hunt for doner after the concert. We desperately wanted the Bosnian version of the gyro, but the city worked against us. All the doner shops were close. After wandering in the general direction of anything that smelled like meat, we settled instead for pite and blue Fanta, both of which I will really miss.

We climbed our hill one last time, concerned only with getting home and in bed. We had a few more hugs and goodbyes, but the end was mostly anti-climactic. I fell asleep the second I laid down.


3 Responses to “Back in the USSR (Day 21)”

  1. 1 Mom


    What can I say? It’s obvious that this is an experience that you will never forget. You have met friends and people who will have an everlasting impact on your life.

    I throughly enjoyed reading about each and every day of your time in Bosnia and it’s surrounding areas (you know I must have been interested if I actually read it all).

    I hope you enjoy your time in Scotland with your pen pal. I hear it is beautiful there! It’s just another place you can check off of your list of 101 things to do in 1001 days!

    This next week is going to drag because I want to see you so bad. I am looking forward to our one-on-one time in DC before we head home. Take care of yourself and nurture that cold that you acquired while in Bosnia.

    I hope you keep blogging while you are in Scotland as I am anxious to hear of the things you are doing while you are there. I will see you on Thursday next week.

    Love you and miss you lots and lots,


  2. Hi Whitney’s Mom!

    Just want to reassure you that I will be looking after your daughter the best I can until Tuesday evening. She had her first Irn Bru yesterday and has lived to tell the tale, so that’s always a good start!

    Hopefully it’ll stop raining at some point before the weekend…

    Lis xo

  3. 3 Mom

    Hi Lis!

    Thanks for the reassurance! It’s comforting to know that she is in good hands with you. Thank you so very much for taking her in and housing her for the next few days. I am so happy that she had the opportunity to finally meet you in person!

    If you ever step foot in America, there is an extra bed in Whitney’s room waiting for you anytime! I hope you two have a fabulous time while she is there on her visit. How exciting it is for her to meet her pen pal from Scotland in person!

    Tell Whitney that I am going to my friend Jennifer’s tonight to drink some wine and toast to you both!

    Take care,


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