Mostar, 6 months later
Bruce Lee statue in November 2005; what's left of it in April 2006.
Yesterday I returned to Mostar, Bosnia's UNESCO heritage town, for one last look before I leave the country. My heart broke when I saw that Bruce Lee had disappeared, ostensibly taken down for repairs. Apparently the kung fu hero's likeness had been so vandalized that someone concluded that the only thing more embarassing than a shiny gold Bruce Lee in your main park is a vandalized shiny gold Bruce Lee statue in your main park. Is this a sad sign of Bosnia's decay? Or just a casualty in an underground ninja war? Or does it mean anything at all? Who knows...
I do know that although Bruce is missing, and Mostar itself has much more visible war damage than Sarajevo, the drive there revealed that Bosnia is indeed very much a country on the move. I was with Selma and Armin, who hadn't driven to Mostar in over 6 months, and for the entire trip they marvelled at the new patches of road, new lights in the tunnels, new houses under construction, new tourist signs, new rest stops, and even a big new shopping mall. It was comforting to see concrete, indisputable signs that the country is indeed improving, and, more importantly, the rare excitement of my local friends at these positive changes.
I wonder what it will be like to visit Bosnia five years from now, and whether I will even recognize it. While I have immense affection for the way it is now, despite its warts (and maybe because of them), I hope that when I do come back it will be like entering a brand new country, and Bruce, in all his nunchuck-wielding glory, will have returned to his rightful place.