We watched an interesting episode of Rick Steves’ Europe last night on WNED. He was doing a walk/drive about in Slovenia and Croatia, which were part of the former Yugoslavia. Beautiful countryside very reminiscent of Greece and Italy. And once Rick explained that both countries were once part of the Roman Empire and had been pillaged by a multitude of conquerors and crusaders over the centuries, the soaring architecture and intricate stonework made sense.
In the city of Split, population @3,000, the retired Roman Emperor Diocletian moved back to Dalmatia and constructed a huge castle in 300 AD. The shell of the castle forms today’s town. Old Dio was a notorious persecutor of Christians, but they got their revenge. In what was to have been the EMperor’s tomb is the body of a bishop he beheaded. Dio’s pagan temple is now a church, complete with baptismal font. The country has lots of walking trails and national parks and not too expensive to visit. So Croatia’s on our list to visit next year.
The gorgeous ruins and the verdant countryside, olive groves and vineyards belie the awful violence of the religious/ethnic war with Serbia, when so many people suffered and died. No matter where you go in the world, there are reminders of war. We saw bullet holes in the masonry of Paris buildings, craters deep in the mountainsides on the shores of Greece, monuments to old soldiers and the engines of war around the cities of Europe.
Now, it’s the atrocities of innocent youth being gunned down by a fanatic (to call him a madman would be too kind) and the mainly women and children dying of thirst and starvation in Africa. Especially in lawless, poverty-stricken Somalia, where the khat-addled pirates – who euphemistically call themselves ‘the coast guard’ have reaped/raped millions in ransom from the owners of hijacked ships – have rendered the country the most dangerous for those who want to help the people. Now, the thugs refuse to allow foreign aid workers in, for a variety of insane reasons. It begs the question – will we ever be able to stop this inhumanity?