Balkan Reflections

This blog has been set up to assist in communicating with friends and family while we are in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Location: Ontario, Canada

Striving to a better day.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Well we’ve returned from our trip safe and sound. Although it was only a couple of days, it seems like we covered a lot of territory…and actually we did.

We set out to Međugorje on Wednesday morning. We anticipated a 5 hour or so trip. It is really hard to tell by most maps just how far a place is, as switchbacks are not always indicated, and road conditions and ‘pit stops’ never are!

It was a nice day. The car we rented was…get this…an Alpha Romeo! It was actually a nice sedan.

For those who are not familiar, I will tell you a bit about Međugorje. First of all, I will tell you that it can be spelled in a few different ways. I have chosen here to spell it as it is spelled in the town itself. The ‘d’ with the line through it is pronounced like the ‘g’ in George. The ‘je’ is pronounced like ‘ye’ in yellow.

Međugorje has been the site of alleged ongoing apparitions (visions) of the Blessed Virgin Mary since the mid-1980s. Originally there were six (I think) visionaries. Now, I am told that there are only three who receive a vision monthly. The main messages, I am told, are calling us all to prayer, and to peace.

I am not a follower of apparitions. It is not something I’ve ever felt called to…not even the apparitions approved by the Roman Catholic Church. Međugorje is not an approved apparition, mainly (for now, anyway!) because it is ongoing. The Church will not approve an on-going apparition because of the risk of post-approval messages being something the Church cannot support. So any apparition that is approved is one that has stopped. Even then, the Church is very slow and cautious in this process, for the protection of the faithful. Roman Catholics are not required to include even approved apparitions in their devotions, although it may be a very good idea to take the messages to heart!

Međugorje is a small town. It wasn’t even on the map the first time I went looking for it back in early 1990s. At that time, it was within the borders of the Republic of Yugoslavia. During the Balkan War, if I remember correctly, it was included for a time in what was then Croatia. It is now in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I suspect the Dayton accord had something to do with that.

It is near Mostar.

We got into Međugorje in the late afternoon, pretty much on schedule, after some hair raising driving through the mountains. Dh is getting awfully good at driving in this area.

After a bit of difficulty, we found the pansion (a sort of hotel or guest house) we were looking for. This one is called ‘Angel’. It is simple and quite nice. It is run by two men from Toronto who are planning to turn it into a place Canadian pilgrims can stay and have some of the familiar things from home. As it is off season, we were almost the only people in the building this time, but a group from Saskatchewan had just left.

My contact at the pansion was a friend of friends of mine at home in Canada. We quickly became comfortable with each other and he started to tease our girls as he made sure we had what we needed. We found him very generous. Our stay was pleasant.

After we’d settled in, we set into the town on foot. We found St. James Church, where the rosary was being said in Croatian. It is broadcast outside. In the ‘on’ season, there are often far too many people to get into the Church for Masses, rosaries or adoration, so benches and speakers are set up outside.

We lit a candle for the many intentions of friends and family we carried with us.

As we started looking for somewhere to have dinner, we started looking at some of the many businesses lining the streets. It would be impossible to count the number of rosaries being offered for sale! We were somewhat surprised to find prices in almost every currency you could imagine…US$$, Canadian $$, Pound Sterling, Euros, Kuna, Konverted Mark …I think there were about 8 different prices listed. The clerks always knew what the other prices were, if they weren’t on a particular tag! I was very pleased to notice that although there were many vendors, most prices did not seem inflated.

The next morning we were going to attend Mass in English. We awoke to a very wet scene. We did go to Mass, where the baby was most uncooperative! It was not as crowded as the Mass in German, which preceded it.

We opted not to climb up to the famous cross, as the ground was slippery, even on relatively level ground.

In retrospect, I think we would have seen more if we’d been with a tour group. Must plan better next time!

That afternoon, we went to Mostar, which will be the focus of a different entry!

We were to leave the following morning, as dh had to work on Saturday. We awoke at 5 am to torrential rain outside and the sound of a waterfall down the hall…only there was no waterfall. Just a nasty leak. What was very sad is that the roofers had just been there the day before! I hope the work came with a guarantee.

Dh alerted the owners who said the damage would have been much worse if he hadn’t heard it when he did.

Well, we got on the road almost on time and had a mostly uneventful drive home. I will enter more about particulars of the trip as time allows!

God Bless


Blogger Joy said...

Still with you! Great accounts, thanks for taking the time out from your short stay to keep us informed. Looking forward to hearing the whole story! Either from there, or after you get home and have more time, I'd love to chat, and I know you know that! LOL
Lots of luv & prayers, Jaye, for you and your whole family

8:26 pm  

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