Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vukovar seen by full bellied people

Tonight we are sailing to Hungary with rain pouring down, and lightening flashing far off in the distance. This morning we were awakened by lightening, but we were fortunate to have no rain during the daytime, just cooler weather. I am grateful that we had no weather challenges while visiting the towns of Vukovar and Osiejk, Croatia. I will post the stark photos of Vukovar's battle scars in a couple of days. Over 90% of the town was obliterated during the war in the 1990's. They've rebuilt a lot in recent years, but the holes from shelling, bullets, and explosions remain in all parts of the town. The amount of bombs that were dropped there boggles the mind. Fields are still filled with mines in many outlying areas. Our guide mentioned that there is a strong anti-war movement that has emerged since the last war, and that it has taken many years for people to become friendly with their former enemies, but they are drinking together again.

After several days of tour guides (Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian and now Croatian) Bob and I noticed that we are getting slightly saturated with details...most of which have little depth...this is one of the main perils of tourism. It is just the sort of information that you can carry home without any threat to your world view. We both are looking for a narrative that is probably not available with this sort of tourism.

Still the guides who have been with us since the start of the trip are very kind, open-hearted people who do their best to make sure that everyone has a good time. They all have different strengths, and I have been admiring their tenacity to deal with the demands of this work. I could NEVER do it.

Here are the sunflowers that have greeted us in every country. These are Croatian ones:

Most of the time, people in our group are either complaining about how much they are eating or how tight their clothes are becoming, or they are commenting on how good the food is and how difficult it is to resist it. The contrast between this particular reality and the landscape of war was impressive.

We hope that we will not be awakened by the Hungarian customs at two in the morning. We have been warned that this has happened in the past. We will see.

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