Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Croatian Road Trip: Part II--Yugoslav Wars

The Yugoslav Wars, from 1991 until 1995, were the first "conflicts" to be formally judged as genocidal since World War II.  Keith was 10 when these armed conflicts erupted.  It was the first real international affair he paid attention to.  The brutality of the wars deeply impacted him. Even when we were getting ready to move to Hungary, Keith was anxious about living so closely to Croatia because in his mind that was, "where you go to die."

The conflicts were primarily based on "ethnic tensions."  The Serbs against the Croats and Bosniaks and Slovenes...and then the Croats against the Bosniaks.  (Later I will get into my problems with "culture" and "being different" and how it fuels the fires of hatred...when really 99% of our genes are the same...but another time)

The Yugoslavian Wars are made up of three wars:
1. War in Slovenia 1991
2. Croatian War for Independence 1991-1995
3. Bosnian War 1992-1995

Slovenia Flag

The war for independence in Slovenia lasted 10 days.  88 people total (Slovenes, Yugoslav nationalists, and foreigners) lost their lives.  Slovenia officially became a European Community member on January 15, 1992 and a member of the United Nations on May 22, 1992.

Croatia Flag

The Croatian War for Independence was fought between forces loyal to the Croatian government, which  declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFR Yugoslavia),  the Serbian-controlled Yugoslav People's Army (JNA).   In Croatia, the war is primarily referred to as the Homeland War (Domovinski rat) and also as the Greater-Serbian aggression (Velikosrpska agresija).

Driving through Croatia we saw a lot of the the scars from the war--mostly what looked to be houses that had been shot at.  I've been told that people have left many houses with the scars as a reminder of the war.  Across the street from our bed & breakfast in Plitvice was one of these houses. 
View from outside the house

Living Room - tree and moss growing inside.  Someone's socks drying...indicating squatters.

The owner of the B&B told us that an elderly couple lived there during the war and it was burned down.  Although the children live up the road from here, they haven't done anything with the house.  Obviously, we had to explore.  I was too scared to go in, but Keith snapped some photos. 

Bosnia Herzegovina Flag

The Bosnian War becomes even more complex and hate filled due to "ethnic differences."  This territory of Yugoslavia eventually became the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina
More on this later.

Serbia Flag

Croatian Road Trip: Part I

"I think you did a good job driving, but I will never be your passenger on a road trip again--especially if you are driving stick." -Keith Lambert

I feel the same way...I definitely feel "cool" to be able to drive a manual transmission automobile, but I really hate driving.  It is a very stressful experience for me and everyone else involved.  We got lost about 5783902576834906743890 times. 

Once we got to Plitvice, Croatia.....it was incredible and very much worth it.  Definitely the most beautiful place I have ever been.  The lakes were made into a national park in 1949 and is Croatia's largest national park (294.82 km squared).  UNESCO put it on the list of World Natural Heritages sites in 1979. 

Plitvice Lakes

Fish swimming out of part of the Supljara caves

Keith watching Veliki Slap, Croatia's largest waterfall, Plitvice

View of the Plitvice Lakes from the bluffs
We hiked for seven hours and the incredible beauty didn't stop.  We thought we'd see a few awesome waterfalls and that would be the end...but it just kept going.  We took a ferry across one of the lakes to get to a different part of the trail...the ride into the dock was incredible.  It reminded me of that scene in the first Jurassic park when they are taking the helicopter onto the island.

 Scientists identified 1267 different plant species (including 55 different types of orchids), 321 species of butterflies, 161 species of birds, and 21 species of bats in the national park.  The forest is also home to brown bears.