Pljevlja, Montenegro

The city of Pljevlja, just across the border of Serbia in neighboring Montenegro, reminded me of the Višegrad of the Ivo Andric’ novel, “Bridge over the River Drina.” We visited the city over the Labor Day weekend attending a friend’s wedding. It is the third largest city in Montenegro and is located in a wild, beautiful region of canyons, rivers, and forests.

There was a relaxed, dusty feel to the city. Most impressive were the two Islamic minarets and the old Ottoman cemetery next to our hotel. The Ottoman Turks ruled Pljevlja for centuries and these are their legacy. There name for it Taslidža, which referred to the rocky landscape. Owen thought the country should be called Rock Negro, as they are everywhere. In Andric’s novel, the novel starts in the Ottoman times and ends with the arrival of the Austrians to the dusty river town of Višegrad. Pljevlja felt like that city after the Austrians had left. We visited the large Hussein Pasha’s mosque which dates back to 1569. It had been beautifully restored, but looked abandoned with uncut grass and a street dog sleeping on the front steps. The old Ottoman cemetery next to our hotel also had very long grass and looked like no one ever visited it.

The city today is mostly ethnically Serbian, politically Montenegrin, and it looks Bosnian. It sounds like it should be part of Yugoslavia with this mix.

The renovated but empty - Husein Pasha's Mosque

This is my favorite part of the Balkans, the region of Tara as I call it. It encompasses the Tara River and has snow-capped mountains, river canyons, pine forests, and lots of wildlife. So far we visited Mokra Gora in Serbia and now Durmitor and the Pljevlja municipality. I hope to explore Tara more.

People I Work With (Part I)

I am doing a series of profiles of the local employees of the International School of Belgrade. The profiles will be posted on our school’s web site. The purpose is for the expat teachers and families to get to know them better. Often, time and language barriers prevent this. I am posting on my web page, some of the people I work with closely. The first is my secretary Bojana, who is pictured below as well as her profile.


Bojana Borovic, my administrative assistant.
Bojana Borovic, my administrative assistant.

Bojana is 28 years old and from Pljevlja, Montenegro. Pljevlja is a city of 40,000 located in the northern part of Montenegro where Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia meet. Administration runs in her blood, as both of her parents work in the field. Her father manages an electrical plant and her mother is a court administrator. They both live in Pljevlja where her father Voja, is an enthusiastic beekeeper. They own their grandfather’s country home and spend much time there. 

Upon graduating from high school, Bojana moved to Belgrade to attend the University of Philology where she earned a degree in English Literature. She returned to Montenegro for a year and a half to work as a translator for a coal mining company. The coal mine’s loss was our gain when she was hired as the ISB Lower School Receptionist in 2007. Bojana’s brother Bojan, also lives in Belgrade where he is studying law at Union University. Bojan plans to join his uncle’s law firm upon graduation.

Bojana has another Bojan in her life- her fiancée Bojan and she plans to wed in 2010. He is finishing his degree at a sports school in Belgrade and is a successful handball coach. Bojana’s future plans include the wedding and shortly thereafter starting a family. She is also completing a Master’s Degree from Podogorica University in Diplomacy and intends to finish next year.

It has been great working with Bojana and she helps me tremendously. Thanks Bojana! By the way, she is the first Montenegrin I have ever met.