Mostar was stunning- like a smaller and more serene version of Sarajevo. I arrived in the evening and was picked up by the owner of the guest house I stayed at: Hostel Nina. Similar to my hostel in Sarajevo, the house belonged to a family who had built dorm rooms and allowed guests to use their facilities. It might sound uncomfortable but it certainly was not. My host was probably around 55 years-old, and very smiley. To my surprise, she started telling me very openly about her family’s experience in the war as we drove towards the hostel.
“It’s important for Mostar to have tourist..there are no jobs now-only tourism. We need you!” she said.
Well considering it’s beauty and proximity to tourist hot-spot, Dubrovnik, it didnt seem that Mostar was going to have a problem expanding the post-war tourism industry. The town had been totally destroyed in the mid-90′s. Similarly to the amount of damage done to Dresden in WW2, 1993 left something like 75% the buildings in ruins. Nina pointed out some buildings on the front line- one had been rebuilt, but the rest showed their 15 years of neglect as rock crumbled and vines twisted themselves around bullet-riddled facades. Nina told me that she had fled with her children to Norway. Her husband was Muslim and therefore, the whole family was in danger. It’s confusing.
“It was not safe for me, even though I’m catholic” she told me.
Eventually the family returned to Mostar in 97- “ The city was distroyed and very dangerous after the war. People doing whatever they want to survive” Nina continued.
In 2007, Mostar’s famous landmark ‘the old bridge’ was rebuilt, and from that time on, the tourists started to return. Anyways- as it began to get dark I took a walk around the town- it was completely gorgeous, set to the backdrop of arid mountains, the rocky river was so turquoise blue I wanted to jump in; especially after another hot bus ride.