Monday, February 21, 2005

Today I had an urge to escape to Sarajevo for a few days sometime next week, but I didn't know whether Ukrainians require visas to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I went to the site of Ukraine's Foreign Ministry and found the address of the Bosnian embassy - turned out it's in Moscow, not in Kyiv, on Mosfilmovskaya, very near to where I went to school here during the Chernobyl year (I even remember a Yugoslav girl attending the same school, though not her name - she was a few years my junior, her parents worked at the embassy).

I thought it was strange that Bosnia still didn't have an embassy in Ukraine, but I wasn't really curious about the reasons and was actually glad - because if the visa procedures were more complicated than those in Turkey (five minutes and $20 at the airport - perfect!), then at least I could skip going to Kyiv: what I wanted was an instant, relatively spontaneous, problem-less getaway.

I called the number listed on our Foreign Ministry page, and a woman there told me, in Russian, that I had to call the Consular Section. I called the number she gave me and was greeted in Bosnian, by another woman - who sounded middle-aged and very cozy.

At first, I thought it was my accent that prompted her to reply in her native language instead of Russian. But she went on explaining the visa procedures to me in Bosnian, and I realized that she just didn't speak Russian.

I understood much of it but not all. The funny thing was that I automatically switched from Russian to Ukrainian - just couldn't help it somehow. I wonder if the woman was aware of it.

From what she was saying, I realized I'd have to postpone my visit to Sarajevo - too many papers need to be assembled, unfortunately.

But I did spend some time asking questions and listening to her answers - I totally loved this weird but wonderful way of communication: me in Ukrainian, she in Bosnian. I didn't think it was unprofessional of her, or rude - no! A little eccentric? Yes. But she was very diligent in providing me with all the details, and she was very friendly.

In a way, it was a challenge for me - how much would I be able to understand? - and it reminded me of my interaction with a Belarusian opposition leader at the camp city in Kyiv back in December.

I loved the sound of Bosnian, by the way - and, funny, but that eases the pain of having to forget about my spontaneous trip to Sarajevo...

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