RIDING IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
APR 17, 2023
Bosnia and Herzegovina is European country #3! As I travel more throughout the Balkan countries, I learn more about the conflict that took place in the 1990s from the Yugoslavian War. The remnants of this war still linger in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the physical state of the buildings, as well as in the psyche of the people.
I typically don't research much before I enter a country. I want my experience to be completely unfiltered and uninfluenced. The only caveat is: I want to know about the actual dangers and precautions I need to take. Upon speaking to other travelers and locals, they warned me not to camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to unexploded land mines from the war. When I crossed the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina from Dubrovnik, Croatia, I immediately saw red signs with a skull and cross bones warning travelers not to venture off the main road because there are unexploded land mines.
Check out the red sign on the left side in the trees. A bit ominous, but definitely does the job. The country is full of two lane roads. They are not buttery smooth and have quite a few potholes and uneven parts. It's not a country where I recommend setting any land records. Big rigs drive on these roads, so it's challenging to pass on blind corners. It's best to take it easy here. Here is a map of the route I rode.
The first city I arrived in was Mostar. When I say there are still remnants of the war, I saw this first hand in Mostar. There were still buildings that suffered from explosions and bombs and have not been rebuilt. There were still bullets inside these abandoned buildings. Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a developing country, so money is limited to completely demolish and renovate these buildings.
Despite the country's history, it was still so beautiful. The mountain ranges are picturesque and there are beautiful waterfalls you can swim in during the summer. I definitely said "Wow" out loud a few times riding through the landscape. The photo above is Kravica Waterfall and was one of my favorite places I visited here. Check out my YouTube video showing my experience of visiting Kravica Waterfall HERE.
One thing I really didn't enjoy while riding through this country was inhaling the smog from the country's coal burning for electricity. I didn't know I was inhaling smog at first. While I was riding in the dark, once the sun started to set, I noticed a fog in the air, but was grey in color. My throat was starting to get itchy and the smell was pretty bad. I pulled my bandana to cover my nose and later saw a coal burning plant in Tuzla. This was a deterrent for me to want stay in this country which is a shame. My health and lungs are very important to me, and as a motorcyclist, the fresh air is a part of the reason why we ride. We ride to get away from the city's congestion with air pollution. But I could not escape this while in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I also had a very uncomfortable interaction here. For context, the main religion in this country is Islam and an individual whose hotel I was staying at pushed his beliefs on me. This article isn't to bash anyone, their views or religion, but I'm just telling my experience. I felt extremely uncomfortable when this person, especially when I'm staying in their property, tried to push their beliefs on me. The conversation went like this:
Person: Do you have kids or a husband?
Person: Women were put on this Earth to have kids.
The conversation went on like this for a while. As someone who has spent their entire life trying to destroy stereotypes and glass ceilings, this did not sit well with me. I also realized it is not my job to change anyone and this person did not care what I had to say. I've had so many conversations with people from different backgrounds and upbringings with different beliefs, but we both respected each others lives and opinions. Sometimes we didn't agree, but we still listened to what each side had to say. This interaction was not that type of conversation. I've had much more positive interactions in Bosnia and Herzegovina that outweigh this interaction, but I did not feel like taking another chance on if another uncomfortable interaction like this would happen. I'm not supposed to fall in love with every country.
Riding a motorcycle through a country isn't just about the condition of the roads, it's about the interactions with the local people as well. The interactions with locals is what really provides the richness in the experience when visiting a country. That's why I shared this experience. Honestly if I could give a ratio of the positive experiences I had to this negative one in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it would probably be 50:1.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was not my favorite country, but I'm happy I experienced it for myself. It's not a popular tourist destination and many of my friends back home in California have never heard of it. I saw some amazing things there and even made a lifelong friend. I'll tell that story soon.