A year or so after the war ended my family decided to take a trip down to Jablaničko Jezero to go camping. It was my parents and siblings and my aunts and uncles and cousins. Huge family camping trip. We prepared everything and were just ready to relax. First vacation after the war so everyone needed it.
We found the perfect spot. The water was beautiful and blue. The beach was clean. It was like war never happened there. Trees everywhere, fresh air, clean water and a village close enough to us to grab food and other necessities.
So, on our third or second day there i’m playing in the water and I turn around and bump into a guy. The guy screams my name and I look confused until he comes closer…my cousin, Senad, who we all believed to be dead along with his family. He hugs me and we cry. I call out for my parents and they run and freak out when they see him.
He takes us to where our uncle and aunt settled, some run down little home in a village close to Konjic. I can’t describe that feeling. Nobody knew what happened to them during the war and nobody thought they’d survive (they lived in Mostar and stuff was BAD there and their house in Mostar was bombed ).
We hugged each other all night. We stayed down by the lake, singing songs and talking. Us kids didn’t even go to sleep till very late.
And when we woke up, we watched the sun rise and our parents drank coffee. It was so peaceful and tranquil and beautiful.
Our camping trip that was supposed to last a week lasted the entire summer. We spent the entire summer by the lake. Swiming and singing and staying up all night talking, barbecueing and just enjoying life.
It ended up becoming a family tradition. Every summer we’d go down to Jablanicko and spend the summer there. Our parents didn’t go to work and would save up all year for us to enjoy the summer.
And we really did enjoy it. I can’t translate the feelings into words nor can i paint an accurate picture of how beautiful it was. I just remember that those summers were the greatest moments of my life.
My aunt and uncle eventually returned to Mostar…to a new house that was built with the help of the family. I moved to America, my sister to Sweden, my cousins to Switzerland, my other aunt to the Netherlands, and the others stayed behind in Sarajevo and they tell me they refuse to go to the lake without me.
Last time I went home to visit, on my second week there, my uncle put me in the car and told me he had something to show me…half an hour after we left Sarajevo I realized where we were going. And when we got there everyone was there…just waiting. And it was like i was 11 years old all over again, the dirty beach, the water, the fresh air and the sunrise just waiting for me to join them.