Week 3: June 12-18

World Cup 2014

Thursday, June 12

On Thursday, the internet at work was not cooperating for the majority of the day. My coworkers worked around this by using USB drives to transfer files back and forth. In the afternoon, IT came by and installed the printer drivers on my computer so I would have the ability to print. Instead of taking the tram home, Dinka gave Amer and me a ride because we both live on her way home. She dropped me off in front of the main post office in the Stari Grad. It is across the river from the Art Institute.

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The art institute is in a magnificent building with a fun, looping bridge. image source

I mailed my postcards to my friends in the United States and was surprised to find that postage costs more than the postcards themselves, but they had a long journey ahead of them.

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Thursday evening was the beginning of the World Cup. Brazil was set to play Hrvatska (Croatia) at 10pm local time. Since I had no cable I went to the Stari Grad to watch the game. Flags from all of the participating countries were strung across the wide pedestrian avenues. Every cafe and bar had the game playing. Most of them had an extra TV that they brought out so that the people sitting outside could also watch. The one cafe that did not have a TV was empty. There were also sponsored screens set up in larger areas. Hyundai sponsored a large screen in front of BBI Centar.

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Before game time there was live music and there were performances at halftime as well.

After buying a drink at the shopping center, I found space to stand just as the opening ceremony was beginning. There were numerous security officers swimming through the crowd to ensure that the event went smoothly. Some of the spectators were rooting for Croatia (our neighbor to the west) while others were rooting against them. After only ten minutes, Croatia had scored off of an own goal by Marcelo.

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The Brazilians were not phased and fired back with a goal of their own 20 minutes later.
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It was a perfectly placed shot by Neymar and bounced off the inside of the left goal post. There was nothing the Croatian goalie could have done to stop it.
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There was much back and forth for the rest of the half but no more goals. Multiple players were elbowed in the face while going up for headers, on both sides, but none of the fouls were mean-spirited even though Marcelowas often rolling on the ground. One thing that surprised me, and the rest of the crowd gathered at BBI Centar, was that the ref had a small spray can. He would spray the 10 yard line for free kicks so that the players could not move when his back was turned. At half time the crowd dispersed to sit down and throw out their snack wrappers. I was tired of standing and made my way back towards my apartment. When I passed the SCC, the game was playing on their screens as well, and the second half was just starting.

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I sat down on one of the cement cubes meant to keep cars from parking on the open area in front of the shopping center. On the right of this picture is the beautiful, full moon. Although this screen had lower definition than the previous one, I was glad to have a seat. After twenty minutes without a goal, I was beginning to get cold. I called it a night and headed home to prepare for work the next morning. When I walked into the apartment I was surprised to hear my roommate watching the game in his room.

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Late in the second half, Brazil was rewarded a penalty for a blatant dive from Fred. Neymar took the penalty and scored, putting Brazil in the lead and a bitter taste in the Croatians mouths. image source

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During the added time at the end of the game, Oscar managed to score one more goal for Brazil, validating their win and advancing them to the top of their group. image source

Friday, June 13

For lunch on Friday we ordered from Zmaj, a grill near our office. In Bosnian, zmaj means dragon. There is a restaurant that we pass on the tram and that has a dragon sculpture in the front. On Thursday they had a Bosnian flag wrapped around the dragon and fire was coming out of its mouth. As the afternoon was advancing, a thunderstorm rolled in and it got very dark. The forecast predicted rain for the next week! The tram drivers were on strike during the day so Mirela gave Amer and me a ride halfway home. Luckily, they tram drivers ended their strike in time to pick up the workers so I caught the tram home for the rest of the trip.

After work I received a text from Jalaj asking if I wanted to go to a movie with him. Seeing as it was still raining, I happily accepted the invitation. When it was time to head over we walked to BBI Centar.. One of Jalaj’s coworkers had told him about the movie theater next door. We bought our 5km tickets at the counter for Bad Neighbours (Trailer). When buying the tickets we were asked to choose our seats. When we walked into the theater, I was surprised to see the rows and seats labeled. The movie was in English with Bosnian subtitles, and it was moderately entertaining.

Saturday, June 14

On Saturday morning I went to the cafe inside of the Alta shopping center. After checking my email, I bought some groceries and headed home. Unfortunately, when I had left the cafe, I forgot my umbrella under the table. By the time I returned, it was gone. When I got back to the apartment, Jalaj told me that the internet provider was going to come by and install the WiFi before noon, then he left to buy his own groceries. While he was out, the technician and the landlord came by. The technician was very skilled and worked quickly, stripping wires and testing connections. Neither of them spoke much English, so I sat silently and watched. The technician wrote down the network name and password for me after verifying the connection. The landlord paid for the installation, router, and modem, then they both left. I’m assuming the WiFi fee and modem rental will be added to our rent. I made myself a cheeseburger for lunch and when Jalaj returned I shared the network information with him. Then I headed out into the steady rain.

I had planned to visit the Vrelo Bosna on Saturday afternoon, but made the mistake of relying on signage to find my way. I took a wrong turn leaving the tram station in Ilidža and ended up taking a nice walk through the small suburb of Hrasnica.

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Hrasnica is a quiet town nestled at the foot of the mountains east of Sarajevo.

On my way back from Hrasnica, the rain ceased and I was able to take some pictures.

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Wildflowers lined the street on my way to Hrasnica. In front of the small house sits a pile of damp hay.

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Along the way I crossed the Željeznica River.

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Next to the river is the International Burch University. Across from the [IBU]((http://www.ibu.edu.ba/)) is the International University of Sarajevo.

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The heavy clouds sat low in the mountains.

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The ever-present houses covering the lower hills.

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Old next to new, a common occurrence around Sarajevo.

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The pyramid building is a swimming pool that services all of Ilidža while the colorful buildings on the right make up a large shopping center.

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This memorial in Ilidža is for all of the fallen soldiers and civilian victims from the area. “On 24 stone pillars are carved the names of 722 soldiers and 221 civilian war victims. It was difficult to gather this information, since many of our citizens have left the country or entire families perished. With help from the media, the list is finally complete and the names engraved on the monument.” (paraphrased from) Mirsad Sinanovic, Assistant Chief of Veterans’ Affairs. source

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One tram stop past my office is the back of the Sarajevo International Airport.

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The Petrolinvest office is closed on weekends. The building is shaped like an H with the lobby and front desk in the middle. On the left side of the H is the Petrolinvest offices. The right side of the building has offices for a different company.
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Every so often I come across pitted areas in the sidewalk. These are the marks left by the mortar shells that were fired at Sarajevo for four years, the longest siege on a city in modern history. In some areas, an artist has filled these with red resin to symbolize the blood lost. These red scars are known as the Sarajevo Roses.

Sunday, June 15

On Sunday, I set off for Vrelo Bosna again, this time with pictures of the map on my phone. I was determined to visit the source of the Bosna River and I was not going to let a little rain stop me. By the time I got off the tram in Ilidža, it was no longer raining. I was glad to have the map because the route I followed was not intuitive.

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Roses thrive in Sarajevo so they are planted in many places.

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In order to avoid walking down the freeway, I took a small side street.

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The side street led me over the Roman Bridge. “The Roman Bridge (Rimski Most) in Ilidža spans the Bosna River and was built by Ottoman architects in the first half of the 16th century using the stones from the remains of the Roman settlement Aquae Sulphurae.” source

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View from the Roman Bridge. The river is calm here and slips by unnoticed.

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I happened to pass the Serbian Orthodox Church of St Sava in Blažuj (built 1896) which became a national monument in 2005.

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I had finally reached the street that led to the Vrelo Bosna! On the right are beautiful roses poking up out of a private garden. Stray and pet cats were plenty along this street, dumpster diving and sleeping in windows.

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As I walked along I passed two grazing cows. They were not there on my way back so they must have just been there to moooow the grass.

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Vrelo Bosna! The entrance fee to the park was 2km. Here is the spring that is the source of the Bosna River. The entire country is named after this river.

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The calmer areas had ducks and swans.

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The park was beautiful with numerous streams and bridges.

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Here I am enjoying the lovely park. With rain in the forecast the park attendance was low, but even so, there was a man with an accordion leading a lively dance near the small restaurant.

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Intriguing paths led off in every direction.

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Wooden bridges allowed access to even the smallest islands where there were damp benches.

After thoroughly enjoying the quiet park, I headed back out. It would take me at least an hour and a half to get back to the apartment.

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On my way back I spotted more sheep resting in the green fields.

I had just crossed back over the Roman Bridge when I received a text message from Haris informing me that my second roommate was going to arrive within the next hour. This was great news, except that I was still an hour away from the apartment. I picked up my pace and hustled back to the tram stop in Ilidža.

When I finally made it back to the apartment I was surprised to find my new roommate Paras, who was sitting by himself in our stairwell with his suitcase. I let him into the apartment, gave him the WiFi information, and let him borrow my phone charger. After he had some time to settle in, Jalaj returned and showed him where to buy a Bosnian sim card for his phone. I spent the evening relishing in our new WiFi access, catching up on all of my YouTube subscriptions.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina was scheduled for their first World Cup game on Sunday night against Argentina. The excitement had been building all week. During the day almost everyone was wearing BiH gear. Flags adorned many of the cars. Pubs were full with spectators preparing for the game even though it would not start until midnight local time. I had originally planned to watch the game in the Stari Grad so that I could fully experience the support of the Bosnian crowd. As game time approached I heard a few gunshots from over-enthusiastic fans so I decided to stay in and watch the game on my TV. Living next to a government building has its advantages because there was a police car parked in front of the British Council for most of the night. I tried to stay up for the game but kept dozing off as I had made the mistake of watching from my bed.

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The BiH-Argentina game started much like the Croatia-Brazil game, with an own goal by Kolašinac, giving Argentina an early lead. image source

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Despite many worthy attempts, no more goals were scored in the first half. At 65 minutes, Messi shot the ball off the inside of the post to put Argentina ahead by 2. image source

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With only five minutes left in the game, Ibišević nutmegged the Argentinian goalie to put BiH on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, this was the last goal of the game and Argentina won 2-1. BiH will play Nigeria on June 21st and Iran on June 25th. image source

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It is worth noting that the World Cup has sparked huge protests in Brazil. Many of the citizens are outraged that their country would spend more than $11 billion on this event (the most expensive World Cup) before stabilizing education and healthcare. Along with increased public transit fares, many of the poor residents were moved from their housing and await “improved housing” or payment because they lived where the new stadium was to be built.

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“Cup for whom?”
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Most Brazilians cannot even afford to attend the World Cup. They are angry at their government, but do not blame the players. In protest, the former residents of São Paulo, who were evicted or can no longer afford the rent, have organized a People’s Cup. This event is similar to one held in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup.
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Monday, June 16

Monday was business as usual. The rain held out for most of my commute and only sprinkled on me during my short walk home from the tram after work. For lunch we ordered delivery from a new restaurant and I tried the krompir (potato) burek. It was good, and the 2km serving was large so I was able to take some home as leftovers. That evening, Haris dropped by and we were able to ask him questions about our salary and rent. I spent the rest of the night relaxing and staying dry.

Tuesday, June 17

Paras was scheduled to start at Petrolinvest on Tuesday. Although he was working in the same building as I was, he would be in the civil department. He wanted to get to the office early, so we left at 7am, which is 40 minutes before I usually leave. The commute was wet, but smooth and he quickly got his door pass from the woman at the front desk. After stopping to grab a kafa, I introduced him to the civil department on the third floor and headed down to my own office. There were only a few people there when I arrived, but the rest slowly trickled in as the morning progressed. For lunch we ordered ćevapčići from Zmaj again and it was just as delicious as the first time. The food came early so we happily ate lunch around 10:45.

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During our lunch break, Amer, Mirela, and I went on a short walk through the area behind the office. Before the war, that area had been home to the main factories of the industrial powerhouse Energoinvest which had employed over 50,000 Bosnians. Being such a large industrial company it was inevitably targeted and all of the buildings were burned. Now mostly cement shells remain although a few of the buildings have been rebuilt. Some of the empty buildings are used for storage, but the majority stand silent, covered in graffiti, slowly being swallowed by the bushes and weeds.

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That afternoon the office was quite busy because we had a contract due for a new blending unit. Zoran rushed in and out double checking all the details. The final book of engineering specifications and drawings was over 200 pages long, so Amer burned the PDF to CDs to send to the large refinery in Republika Srpska that had ordered the project. It continued to rain as I showed Paras how to take the tram back home.

Wednesday, June 18

After work on Wednesday, Mirela dropped Amer and me off in front of a large shopping center named Robot. Amer helped me buy a cheap drying rack. Even though our apartment had a clothesline in the bathroom, it could only fit one round of laundry at a time, which was a bit of a problem with three people. Also, with two male roommates, there wasn’t much privacy.

It had been raining for almost a week and I was starting to feel restless. When the rain paused on Wednesday evening, I jumped at the chance to take a walk. This time, I walked north, passing the bus station, stadiums, and cemeteries. I walked all the way up to the Pionirska dolina (Pioneer Valley) which is a large park with a zoo.
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Not wanting to get lost, I turned around and headed back towards the center of the city. On my way back, I turned onto an overpass that led into the Tunel Ciglane that takes drivers through a hill instead of over it. The street was positioned between two large cemeteries and above a marketplace.
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Although Sarajevo does not have a traditional city skyline, as the sun is going down, the many apartment buildings light up and look like small skyscapers.
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This is the view looking back towards the city.
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The 1984 Olympic tower can be seen from almost everywhere in Sarajevo.
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Eventually, I got back to the main street that runs east-west through Sarajevo. Although it had started to rain lightly, I still felt like walking much further. I chose to walk west following the tram route for an easy ride home. After walking for over an hour, I caught the tram back, made dinner, and headed to bed. On my way, I passed a Sarajevo Rose.
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The trams in Sarajevo do not have a schedule that I know of. The only schedule they follow is frequent, and often. During peak commute hours, they come by frequently, less than five minutes apart. During the middle of the day and at night they come by often. I have never had to wait more than ten minutes for a tram at any stop and I have never seen an empty tram.

In summary

Qualifying for the World Cup this year was a huge accomplishment for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the country rallied together in support of their team, they still remain largely divided. In order to understand the complex divisions within the country, I had to understand the history. When the Dayton Agreement was signed in 1995 to put an end to the Bosnian War, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two parts: the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. Both parts make up the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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As a clarification, Herzegovina is a region within the country and is in both the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska.
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Although all citizens of BiH are considered Bosnians, their political structure has three constituent nations: Bosniaks (Muslim), Croats (Roman Catholic), and Serbs (Christian Orthodox). These make up roughly 95% of the population. The 17 minority groups include Jews, Gypsies, and children of mixed marriages. In 2006, Jewish official Jakob Finci and Roma official Dervo Sejdic sued the state because under the current structure, any candidate that was not a Bosniak, Croat, or Serb was unable to run for president. The case was won in 2009, but nothing has changed. Even after the EU stated that enforcing the verdict is “one of the preconditions for an application for EU membership,” the government has been unable to implement this change because it would require them to update the constitution. It seems that the government has two options: to add a fourth nation for minorities or to consolidate down to one President. For a country that cannot agree on lyrics for its national anthem, resolving this issue will be much harder than it seems.

The Bosnian government, much like the United States, has three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The three presidents (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) rotate, each having power for 8 months at a time during their 4 year terms. The Legislative branch is made up of the House of Peoples and the National House of Representatives. The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates (5 Bosniaks, 5 Croats, 5 Serbs) that serve 2 year terms. They in turn select 58 representatives (17 Bosniak, 17 Croat, 17 Serb, 7 others) who serve 4 year terms. The House of Representatives comprises of 42 elected officials (14 Bosniak, 14 Croat, 14 Serb). The Judicial branch is organized similarly, ensuring proportional representation. It is obvious that minorities only have a chance to be represented in the House of the Peoples, which is technically a human rights violation. In order to resolve this issue, the government would need to be reorganized. The Dayton Agreement succeeded in ending the war and evenly distributing power among the three main groups, but it forgot about the minorities.

On top of those problems, corruption heavily plagues the small country. Corruption is one of the biggest obstacles that BiH faces in its bid for future EU membership. “Corruption is reportedly pervasive in the judiciary, police and other law enforcement agencies, business licensing, customs and public procurement.”. In a 2011 report conducted by the United Nations, corruption was ranked as the fourth most important problem with more than 20% of Bosnians exposed to a bribery experience within the previous year (25.3% in the Federation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina and 10.5% in the Republika Srpska). This corruption, along with complicated licensing procedures, has discouraged many businesses from investing in BiH.

 
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