Monday, 29 June 2009

Test drive!

Last night I was talking to some of the young people we used to work with back in the UK. I had showed them some video of what we’re up to in Mostar, answered a whole bunch of their questions and finished off by talking about the big lesson I know I’ve learned since arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I talked about what it feels like to cycle up onto the mountains around Mostar and ponder just how many deadly explosive devices still litter this landscape; how strange it is to have a conversation with a former Army bomb disposal expert about what hitting an anti-personnel mine might do to me and my mountain bike. Such a scenario is obviously best avoided.

This is just one, admittedly dramatic, example of the lesson that is “don’t let fear run (or ruin) your life”. It’s all too easily done. At the less life-threatening end of the scale is the fear of making a fool of yourself with a failed phrase in local language. The temptation: to keep your mouth shut. Back on the bike the temptation would be not to ride. When facing cross-cultural challenges the temptation can be not to go there. But that’s where fear is such a spoiler. We had so many positive experiences since moving that would never have happened if we’d let our fears get in the way.

You can’t say stuff like this without it being put to the test. This came sooner than expected. Early this afternoon I got off a plane a Dubrovnik airport and headed for the taxi rank to catch a quicker ride to the bus station, hoping this would mean an earlier arrival in Mostar. I got in the car and immediately noticed something strange. The driver hand a muscle twitch. Normally it would be rude to comment on such things but when you’re being driven along a twisty mountain road in a powerful Mercedes it could be seen as a matter of some concern that barely a minute passes where both the drivers hands don’t involuntarily leave the steering wheel at the same moment, or you feel the car gently kangarooing under the varying pressure being applied to the gas pedal.

I was surprised at how relaxed I remained. I made the bus station in time to catch an earlier bus. And it was the bus that was arguably driven more erratically!

1 comment:

Postgate said...

Thanks for this, good to have more background stuff. There's a limit to how many questions one person can ask you, or that you may want to answer from one person. So it's helpful to read this, especially in the light of having seen some of the locations you mention. Really glad you made it home 'early' - and safely!