Mostar, Bosnia – Coming to a stop, the sound of tires rolling over gravel is second only to the wind racing through the grass nearby. In the distance, clouds move swiftly as the sun sinks lower toward the horizon. Before me stands an enormous 100ft. tall cross, overlooking Mostar, Bosnia, a city rife with a history of violent religious intolerance.
As I lean against my tiny rental enjoying the evening, a car full of teenagers passes by, parking in front of the cross. They get out, snapping pictures, and running around laughing. Their carefree attitude perfectly aligns with the scene surrounding me. After about 10 minutes, they pack up and drive off, leaving me to enjoy a golden sunset above a hopeful city.
Walking through old town, a familiar feeling fills the air. Cobble streets wind through tight alleyways, with buildings on either side stretching up toward the sky. Vendors beckon for attention while children run unhindered through the crowd. Mostar however, is different than other small towns across Europe.
Since the war, back in the 90’s, the city has made a point to keep buildings that have been destroyed and left abandoned as a reminder of the atrocities that had taken place. Walking through town, new apartment complexes stand side-by-side with vacant, bullet-ridden hollowed out shells.
Two women walk their infants past a nondescript war-torn building. The echoes of drunks and junkies from inside reverberate out toward a bustling city, teeming with a generation of youth ready to rewrite history.
Christians and Muslims peacefully go about their lives, aware of their differences and the underlying tensions that go along with them. Struggling not to relive the atrocities that remain just below the surface, waiting to be unearthed.