Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sussex to Sarajevo

It was one of those tortuous trains of thought understandable only to my subconscious mind, and probably not even that, that led me from the final two words of yesterday's blog - "straight five" - to a hotel outside Visegrad, formerly Yugoslavia and now Bosnia-Herzegovina, where I once spent a night. The hotel, we were told, had been constructed for the Sarajevo winter Olympics (1974?) but when I stayed there it appeared to have a different use. In the interest of full accuracy I should explain that I didn't so much stay in the hotel as at it: I spent the night in the car park. This was in 1996 and I was there with a group of fellow Lions taking aid to refugees after the civil war. Our Lions district had decided to organise a "shoebox appeal" inviting people, especially schoolchildren, to fill shoeboxes with presents for the refugees - food, toiletries, clothes, toys, stationery etc. These would be loaded onto an articulated lorry and driven to Bosnia where the Lions would distribute them to refugee camps. For some reason I can't remember, I volunteered to go along.

The trip lasted some ten days and involved two lorries and a motor caravan travelling in convoy. During the trip, most of us kept a journal of some sort and after we had returned to England, the scrappy jottings were amalgamated and transcribed into a souvenir diary. I have mine in front of me as I write and as it might prove of some passing interest, tomorrow I shall open the Secret Diary of the Sarajevo Seven and we can begin our journey from Sussex to Sarajevo.

No comments: