‘Pilgrims find peace amidst the scenic mountains of Bosnia’

June 7, 2018

RECENT ACCESS: These mountains are part of the Velebit and Biokovo Mountains that make up part of Dalmatia, the southern part of Croatia. This is beside the Croatian equivalent of the Lourdes Shrine in France.

FAMILIAR VIEW: The White Cross on the mountain next to where this photograph was taken from was put by the villagers in 1933 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

CASH ONLY: On this trip, I noticed it did not have to use a bank card and had enough Kuna and Euros to get through the week. it was nice to able to use cash that would have an instant help to the Medugorje and Croatian local economies. Although this is pounds, it is roughly the same value of kuna and Euros I used with no use of cards needed and the rest of our group and myself were able to support many smallholders and artisans.

HEAVENLY GAZE: This was taken between the undergrowth at the top with the view of Medugorje below.

 

SIX years on from my last trip to Croatia and Bosnia I accumulated more information on my observations from when I was last there.

I was part of a 27-strong group from Dorset and Hampshire with Joe Walsh Tours going on pilgrimage to Medugorje in Bosnia Herzegovina but interesting facts permeated this visit from day to day. We flew into the city of Split, which is on the coast, and embarked on a two-hour coach trip onto Medugorje.

Was Bosnian border security tighter than UK?

On returning after such a gap, it was clear that the village – which has expanded outwards – has become more commercialised but retained its spiritual identity.

When we reached the border, it was noticeable the Bosnian border guards ensured all pilgrims had their passports individually checked. This was the same on the way back. On returning to the UK, people were having their passports and hand scanned and any triggers of the technology saw anybody who needed to be queried pulled aside.

Bosnia and Croatia emerged as independent countries after the collapse of the Communist state of Yugoslavia and from the tragic civil war the engulfed much of the region in 1990s. Bosnia is the northern part of Bosnia Herzegovina and it has a moderate continental climate with hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Herzegovina, the southern part, has a Mediterranean climate and plain topography.

Used cash instead of a card for a week’

For the seven days on this trip, I did not have to use a card once. A few days before careful planning enabled to plan what I needed financially, which was about £230 in Croatian Kune and Euros, which can be as an alternative to the local Bosnian currency, the Marka. Croatia is part of the European Union.

Many stop-off points along the main Croatian highways and stallholders selling religious souvenirs and locally-grown food were exclusively using cash on their premises.

This makes a stark contrast here in Dorset where people think nothing of using contactless payments all the time. There is something tangible in using cash to purchase good and services, and even if I was there but for a short time, it was easy how money was spreading out into the wider community.

The recent problems Visa faced in the UK and across the country, showed how supermarket customers abandoned trolley loads of food as they didn’t have cash on them. So in retrospect does heading at break-neck speed towards a cashless society seem such a good idea bearing in mind what we now know?

Bosnia is named the “Heart-Shaped Land” for self-explanatory reasons, has the continent’s largest remaining jungle at a place called Perućica. The national symbol of Bosnia is the golden lily.

‘Croatia is full of mountains and islands’

On our coach trip to catch our return flight from Split, we travelled along a thorough fare through Dalmatia, one of the poorest parts of Croatia. Here it can get very hot and people still grow food in the traditional ways. The roads literally hug the mountains and the scenery is on a par with the Lochs and Glens of Central Scotland.

This road was only built in 2013 and brought more traffic and wealth to this inland part of the country.
This is part of the southern part of Croatia which includes the Velebit and Biokovo mountains and hundreds of Croatian Islands.

  • I have one story to share from Medugorje and it will be linked to this story in case anyone wants to find out more what goes on here.
    There was a young lad from either the Irish Republic or the UK who was part of a group of pilgrims who was visiting the village for a week. He had the habit of walking around the village listening to his eye-pad through large headphones so it was a bit of a challenge to grab his attention and seemed very content here, having experienced a lot of problems back home. One of his party made a concerted effort to flag him down and asked him candidly what it meant being here – his answer was simple, “No one has called me stupid.”.
  •  SIX years ago I had a finger infected and didn’t need medical assistance as it miraculously cleared up inside 48 hours. On my second visit the strange thing was the same finger got infected in a similar way and it was treated by the clinic that is run purely on the donations of pilgrims and others. It was set up in 2003 and I would like thank the staff who assisted me there and I can confirm that series of antibiotics that was given to me has been completed.

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