The drive to the tiny village isn’t long, but we travel on a bumpy and narrow dirt road, winding through a dense forest. The six of us are crammed into our Defender, Aimi falls asleep, Iita keeps asking how it takes so long, all the while enjoying the roller coaster feel of it.
After the woods the view opens to plains and hay fields on the hills. The party, where we’re headed, is where the road ends. It’s a familiar sight with a few houses, and the annual festival spreading next to a small cemetery.
“Welcome to Visojevica!” smiles the host, our friend Mladen. Grandmothers are gathered around a table under a tree, children running about, in their traditional outfits, men chatting, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, laughing loudly. There are cars from Serbia, Germany, Slovenia, and of course, Bosnia. We are seated with friends that are back in motherland, on their holidays from the States. “They all speak English”, Mladen tells me.
We greet everyone kissing – three times, as you do – and hugging and shaking hands, we chat and smirk. We’re offered sparkling wine (!) and rakija, we munch in the pieces of lamb, pita and salads, we take pictures of people dancing and get the singer to perform for the camera. We order for ćevapi, and we watch the families that are reunited for the summer.
It’s heartwarming and hilarious and so beautiful, all at the same time. Nostalgic even, and even to me, who’s not from around here.
I look around and just breathe in the sweetness of it all. The people being so kind. The loud folk music behind me. The mountain views before me. The fact that here, with these people, as with so many others in this country, I feel safe.
I wish the moment would last, when I’m breastfeeding, with my baby girl in my arms, looking down to the valley. There are kids playing around us, and soon my older one runs to us, she’s laughing.
I wish this village, these people, the whole country and region – because it’s all here, they’re all here, we are all here – would be granted peace and happiness. On this wonderful Thursday afternoon in the sun I’m as naive as I want, and simply think it’s all possible.