Different travel destinations provoke different emotions in different people. Some of these emotions we dismiss out of hand while others cannot possibly be dismissed as they have such an impact on us that they literally change our lives.
Such was the case for me while visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina in March 2009.
We were there for a week due to Lloyd’s involvement in an international committee. To prepare for the trip I’d read some background on the country and its recent conflict, as well as the brilliant novel “The Cellist of Sarajevo” by Steven Galloway. Still I really had no idea what to expect or how I might react to being in a recently war-torn country.
I could write a book about my experiences and emotions that week. The stark reality of the Seige of Sarajevo’s impact was present everywhere, displayed in the buildings pocked with bullet holes or that were left as nothing more than wasted, burned out concrete skeletons. People who’d experienced the conflict and lost loved ones were still, 14 years later, bearing the emotional scars while endeavouring to be brave about the challenges they still faced. Their stories, at times, left me feeling almost overwhelmed with sadness.
Further south, Mostar had its own but similar story. As we walked around its bombed out buildings near the reconstructed Old Bridge I put my camera away after deciding to respect the city’s loss by not gawking at its scars. Instead, I focused on the areas that had already been rebuilt and that characterized the city of old.
This image was taken around dusk as we searched the Old Town for late-opening merchants so we could support the local economy. In the end we found a shop selling exotic scarves and purchased several as gifts.
But how did this travel experience change me, you may be wondering?
I had several inexplicable anxiety attacks that week. At the time I had no idea why, but looking back I realize they were the result of a combination of newly emerging physiological concerns and buried emotional issues that had somehow, during that week so outside my comfort zone, found a way to surface.
Shortly after we got home I started seeking help, Since then my life has changed for the better in ways I could never have imagined possible.
Travel can provide us with opportunities to grow if we stay open to the possibility of change. Strangely, an important part of my personal healing journey began courtesy of time spent in a beautiful but shattered country I had never considered visiting. To me this only demonstrates that sometimes the greatest gifts come from the most unexpected sources.
My trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina was a catalyst for important and necessary changes in my life. Has any destination done this for you?
Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012