Articles tagged with "war"

War relics

War relics

We went for a walk along the shores of the Beagle Channel. We found some old gun emplacements, relics of tensions between Chile and Argentina. In 1978 the two countries almost came to war, with Argentina seriously on the verge of mounting an invasion over the sovereignty of islands in the channel. I can’t get over the madness of going to war over uninhabited and uninhabitable territories, and when you have two countries that share such similar histories and cultural heritages, fighting over desolate scraps of land, it becomes even crazier.

I looked over the straits to Argentina, just a few miles away, and wondered whether these guns ever actually fired at anything.


The war

The war

On the way back from Volunteer Beach we drove back past Mount Kent. The hills near Stanley were the scene of fierce fighting during the war, and even now, 30 years later, relics still remain. We made a stop at the wreckage of an Argentinian helicopter. Keith told us that in the later stages of the occupation of Stanley, when British forces were shelling the town, senior Argentinians would leave at night for safer refuges in the hills. This helicopter had been ferrying officers away from Stanley for the night when it was attacked and shot down by a British aircraft.


Bobsleigh run

Bobsleigh run

The next day, Haris took a few of us from the hostel on a tour around the city. It was another blazing hot day. I went to a shop to grab a bottle of water, and as I walked back to Haris’s van I got something in my eye. I thought nothing of it, and jumped into the van. Haris put a sign saying ‘pimp’ in the window, put Right Said Fred loudly on the stereo, and we drove off into the Sarajevo traffic.

We went to the tunnel museum. The city had been besieged for almost four years in the 1990s, and the only way in or out was via a tunnel under the airport runway. Only a small section of it still remains. Walking down ten metres of it on a quiet summer day was claustrophobic; it must have been horrific to walk the entire 800m during wartime.

We drove through the city centre, and stopped near the parliament buildings. The bright yellow Holiday Inn stood nearby. During the war, journalists based themselves here and the façade was covered in bullet holes. Buildings nearby were still pockmarked with war damage, but the Holiday Inn was repaired.

Then we went to the Olympic Museum. Whatever I’d got in my eye early this morning was still there and was now incredibly painful. There was a sad video in the museum contrasting Sarajevo in 1984 when the Olympics were hugely successful, and Sarajevo ten years later when it was filled with misery and death. Moving though it was, I don’t think anyone would expect public weeping from visitors, and I felt embarrassed that my eye was watering profusely. Determined to sort this out, I ended up lying on the ground outside the museum while Will and two of the other travellers squirted mineral water violently into my face. Eventually this worked, and I felt much better.

Our touring done, we found our way to an Ottoman courtyard in Baščaršija and drank coffee and smoked shishas as a thunderstorm suddenly raged over the city.