Outside I was met by Adis, a kind driver from the US Embassy. He asked me to sign a waiver and off we went in the large Explorer into the city. First impressions: old mixed with new. Bizarre architecture (new shopping center looked like several trapezoids stuck on top of each other). Lots of pedestrians. A rare bicyclist on the sidewalk. In about 12 minutes we were in Centar, the old part of the city, and then Bascarsija, the neighborhood where I will live and teach. I will be exploring it today by foot but yesterday I had the pleasure of dragging my two very heavy, large suitcases through its very hilly, and very cracked cobblestone streets.
Adis talked to me a little about the geography, pointing out buildings here and there. 'Sta je ovo?' I would ask and point to something for him to identify. We were able to understand each other enough. He informed me the tramvajem, or tram, runs in a little circle around the middle of the city. It was literally 'stuffed' with passengers. Sardines would be an appropriate metaphor. 'Uvijek' (always) Adis informed me.
Adis dropped me at my apartment but I told him I did not have a key. He had to get back to the embassy so I said I would manage. I finally found the real estate agent as she was coming out of Konzum, a corner store down the hill (not AT ALL across the street as her email indicated). I was hot, sore, and self-conscious, after dragging my luggage down, up, and then down again the hill (as if my hot, bedraggled appearance wasn't sad enough, the sound of my luggage as I dragged it through the broken cobblestone easily drew anyone's attention who had not already noticed my presence).
Sunita took me back to the apartment building (where the driver had originally dropped me - oh sigh). 'Bah!' she cried at the four black stray dogs lying at the entrance and they scurried. We climbed three flights of stairs to my apartment on the top floor where Alma, my landlady waited. Alma's family owns the building and her sister and nephew live on the second floor. After much discussion about everything from the heat to the toilet, they finally left. I unpacked as the sun went down with the Muslim calls to prayer in the background.