“Hi D!” Katie typed into Facebook chat as I sat at Madja’s Friday night. “I’m coming to Mostar tomorrow!”
“Cool, I will be on the tour all day — its 14 hours — so I won’t be back until late, but I will see you Sunday,” I responded.
We chatted a little longer and reviewed our upcoming travel plans.
“Do you want to go to Brela with me?” She asked, sending me a link to information on the Croatian beach town.
Long stretches of beaches. Gorgeous views of the islands across the clear water. Forests lining the coast. Ahhhh.
It looked lush.
She immediately booked us in for two nights.
Later in the evening, David and I were talking and I told him about my plans with Katie.
“That sounds awesome,” he said.
“Do you want to come with us?”
“If that’s alright!”
Of course it was. I adored David from the start. He was a bright, charming 22-year-old who I got on very well with. His company would be a great addition to Katie and me.
Saturday morning, Madja woke up David and I so we would be ontime for the tour.
“Get up,” she said, then offered us some delicious breakfast before we headed down to meet her brother and the group coming from her other hostel.
David and I, along with four others from our hostel, stood outside, waiting for our ride.
Boom. Boom. Boom. Bass thumped.
A white van pimped its way down the street, every few feet lurching on the breaks so the vehicle would dart forward and then rest.
What is this?
It pulled into the driveway where we were standing.
Madja looked at us, smiling. “This is my brother,” she said, gesturing to the driver of the van. “He’s your tour guide.”
Her brother was a whirlwind of energy and emotion.
“OK, OK, OK, everybody out,” he said as the van unloaded.
Ten people somehow emerged from the vehicle.
“Welcome, this is my tour,” he began and then launched into a talk about the tour, what we were doing, where we were going, how the hostels he and his sister owned came to be and more and more and more.
“See, this van fits eight. But, today, it fits 16,” he said, opening the back doors of the van for us to glimpse little cushioned seats, a huge sub-woofer and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. “Get in, get in.”
My group, along with an Irish guy, piled into the back seat of the van. The NON air-conditioned van. On possibly the hottest day in Mostar that summer.
For an hour, we would stop and start and stop and start as he pointed out items of significance in the city and again outside of the city.
Each time we stopped I thought I would pass out. Sweat poured out of all of us as heat stroke loomed precariously above.
Finally, we arrived to the waterfalls. A gorgeous pouring of water from the hills above Mostar. Within minutes, our entire group was in the cool clear water.
It felt incredible.
For 45 minutes we swam and sat in the refreshing runoff from the falls, relishing every moment and dreading getting back into the van.
After swimming, we walked for a bit around the falls, and then took a hike to a rope swing and a cliff to jump from.
Naturally, given my history with cliffs and jumping, I declined the invitation to plunge to the water below.
The tour continued with a trip to an ancient walled town that now had 12 people living in it. We walked along and then stopped for traditional Bosnian snacks at a woman’s home there, where she served up figs, grapes and watermelon from her garden, along with delicious syrup drinks (sage, pomegranate, mint and more).
After nightfall, we headed to another small city that houses an old “monestary,” where Whirling Dervishes are held.
By 10 p.m. our group had begun to tire and by midnight when we finally arrived back to the hostel, I could hardly keep my eyes open.
I walked in to Madja’s, absolutely beat, to find Katie sitting on the couch, bottle of wine by her side.
“Hiya!” she said, smiling.
Instantly, I perked up.
We quickly made plans for the following day — we HAD to see someone jump from the Mostar Bridge — and then I retreated to my bed to pass out.