It's 3:53am in Sarajevo. I tried to be disciplined tonight: trained my shoulders at the gym, read my grad school book until my eyes blurred, limited myself to one episode of TV, did some laundry, and went to bed early.
I was starting to think I was stronger than jetlag, that I could decide when to feel sleepy and when to feel awake.
Nope. Who am I kidding? Jetlag is real, and there's no better evidence than a naturally rising Lindsay before 8am. Jetlag lets me pretend to be a morning person, something that requires divine intervention to accomplish otherwise.
This is the view from standing on the back balcony of my new home in Bosnia. For two months, this AirBnB rental will shield me from the winter. It wasn't too cold or dreary when I arrived, but I've learned in two days that, in terms of weather, Sarajevo seems to be a little moody.
Let the reality of "former Winter Olympics host city" inform you that Sarajevo is near mountains. It is hilly here, and this capital fills a valley that closes in fog, smog, and other weird weather patterns. Yesterday, I awoke to a cold, thick, and diesel-tinged fog; however, upon arrival, it appeared I was landing into a children's book or a Lord of the Rings set.
Driving from west to east Sarajevo took me past Communist architecture reminiscent of East Berlin. Continuing toward the city center, I saw flashing video screens and modern buildings disrupting a dated cityscape. A day later, I continued all the way eastward to the old town, past the Austro-Hungarian section into the heart of the Ottoman presence. Having no prior experience in Turkey, I'm not familiar with the slanted roofs with clay shingles, the cobblestoned alleys flanked by protective overhangs, the barrel vaulted ceilings of the bazaars that harbor cigarette smoke and commerce. Old world indeed.
I continue to mull over my initial impressions of this city as they compare to my pre-conceptions without extensive research. How do I explain the feeling of dropping into a new city whose energy I don't know? Where's the highest concentration of lively people, impressive food, and gorgeous architecture? What does life feel like in this city today, and how present is the memory of its recent war? Do visitors think about it more than they do?
It's time to close the laptop and stare at the ceiling until I can drift into sleep, repeating yoga instructions to sink every bone into the mattress below. I hear car wheels below rolling across the wet pavement. An illuminated logo atop a neighboring building peeks through my purple curtains.
This is the start of two months in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the sooner I increase my hours of daylight for exploration and investigation, the sooner I can answer those questions.