Welcome Back to Sarajevo
|Powder Perfect: Skiers are again flocking to Jahorinaas well as nearby Bjelasnicafor top-notch powder skiing in an Old-World alpine setting. (Carly Calhoun)|
The moment I got off the bus in Sarajevo, Miki was at my side offering accommodations. I was still recovering from the trip through the foothills of the Dinaric Alps: a combination of picturesque box canyons linked by snow-banked, emerald rivers and death-defying roads half-covered with ice and the occasional fishtailing car. As my photographer friend, Carly, who'd come with me to the Bosnian capital to ski, and I gathered our packs from the baggage compartment under the bus, Miki kept smiling and repeating, "You no need worry, Miki take care of everything."
After five or six more propositions, I stopped riffling through my things and relented. He had honest eyes. We were all standing in newly fallen, shin-deep powder. I asked if he could get us a place to stay near one of the ski areas cradled in the mountains south of Sarajevohost city to the 1984 Winter Olympics, and which recently made an unsuccessful bid for the 2010 Games. Moments later we were slinking off across the snow behind our guide, who was part Gollum, part Yoda, to a cab and on our way to Jahorina Mountain ski areaa Serb enclave during the siege of Sarajevo, when more than 10,500 Sarajevans died in the violence between 1992 and 1995.
This was the first time I'd been back to Sarajevo since I'd lived there a couple of years after the war that destroyed Yugoslavia and pitted Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats against one another. During that time, I didn't think of the town as a sports haven...or as anything remotely recreational. I knew it only as a cross between joy, because the war was over, and dread, because the end of the war meant facing a hard truth: the town once known as Yugoslavia's most open and celebrated was demolishedsmoldering buildings reduced to fractured skeletons and people left with hollow stares. But it helps a town immensely to be blanketed in snow, which, in this case, lined the roads in five-foot walls and was falling harder and harder as we passed along the Miljacka River and wound our way up to Jahorina, 45 minutes southeast of the city center.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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