I am sitting in the food court of Alta, the mall just down the hill from my house in Sarajevo, thinking of how I’ve failed to post anything for the past week or so. Yep, for the past several days I’ve been a failure as a blogger. It wasn’t without reason — my family and I just returned from a week of vacation in Makarska, Croatia, a town often referred to here as the “little Sarajevo” on the coast, because of the great number of Bosnians who go there for a week of vacation in the summer. I suppose we contributed to the phenomenon.
It was good to get away from the big city, even if we went to a place with no fast food and virtually no connection to the Western world. We did find the McDonalds, though, at the end of our stay, by driving to nearby Split, Croatia, about an hour away.
We are due to get our own McDonalds in Sarajevo, scheduled to open later this month, just in time for the big international film festival here in Sarajevo. McDonalds is one of those weird phenomenons in America. It is an unmistakable icon of capitalism, but it’s also one of those things that most middle-class Americans seem to have outgrown — that is, until they travel outside of America.
Most people who come here from America are refreshed by the lack of fast food chains and rampant materialism that capitalism has promoted in America. Then six months goes by. And after half a year of daily trips to the “grocery store”, which may be smaller than a Circle K and is sometimes out of things such as salt or Coca-Cola, but keeps your business because it is located at the bottom of your building, you start to look for things that remind you of the conveniences you left behind to go follow a dream that would take you to the great beyond.
And so, after extended stays in foreign countries, Americans who would never darken the door of a McDonalds in their native country come with great excitement to the confines of a foreign McDonalds, looking for the fatty hamburgers and fake salad shakers (are those still on the men there?) that they once claimed were too unhealthy to be consumed by a self-respecting, educated, health-conscious American.
McDonalds. I can’t think of a more appropriate subject for a 4-of-July post. Enjoy!