(excluding vienna and sarajevo airport) it finally feels like europe.
yesterday we were up and into the black hawk. i've always wanted to experience a helicopter ride, but never in a million years would i have guessed i would be getting into a chopper on a military base. we got a short safety speech, strapped ourselves in, and took off upward. the only words i could conjure were 'utterly incredible'. as the blades began to spin, the snow on the sides of the landing started to blow away in smoky waves. we flew over mountains with the sun shining brightly off a small river below, glaring in our eyes off of the water and the bright white. mountains, trees, everything covered with snow. we made our way to a base called 'hill top' and that's literally what it was - a tiny base on the top of a mountain. we didn't actually go to the base though, we only stopped on the landing to take pics and see the view. as we flew down to land, we made some strange sharp turns and it felt like my head and my stomach were being pulled in two different directions. once on the pad i stared out at the view and told the band, mac and johnny (our manager), the pilot and two other escorts to be quiet for a minute. they didn't seem to take me all that seriously, and i only got but a split second of silence. but what grand silence it was. i was reminded of death valley.
susan started another snowball fight (our first one being the other day - and by first i mean first ever) and it was fun as hell.
we got back in the helicopter for a bit of a longer flight. we flew over more mountain tops dotted with houses - some perfectly intact, some destroyed. an indescribable sight. once there, nikki and i put on an impromptu acoustic show for some soldiers. i am surprised at how warm and friendly and welcoming all these guys are. they can be shy and sometimes we can't tell whether they are into it or not, but they always express their gratitude and support to us (as we do to them).
we were then off to this base, butmir, just outside the city of sarajevo. this is where we originally came after flying into sarajevo, to get ID cards. this is a NATO base, and we'd only been on american bases til now. there are french, hungarian, norwegian, italian, dutch, american, british, irish and who knows who else.
we finally got to catch up on sleep last night and had nothing to do today til soundcheck, so we wandered around the base and checked out the shops here. besides being international, this place is so different from the others for other reasons. there are shops and bars and restaurants and things to do. i bought a nonfiction book about sarajevo, someone's experience throughout the war. it was 13 euro, but i felt drawn to it. the postcards on sale were not your typical 'look how beautiful our city is' but more of a mixture of that and 'here is a building on fire, and here is one blown to shit. this is sarajevo.' tomorrow is the tour of downtown and i can't wait. this experience has been great, but i want some culture and i want to feel this city, this country and what it has been through. not like it wouldn't be worth it if not, but personally, i want to make a tangible connection otherwise this loses meaning.
so tonight we had a show here in butmir, in an actual bar, with actual beer and cigarette smoke. there were less people at first because it was 'only 8pm' and apparently there were other things to do. but as the night went on, more and more people came in, and the vibe grew stronger and stronger.
outside there is 'frozen fog' and you can't see but a couple feet in front of you. we were told if we breathe too deeply our lungs would hurt tomorrow.
we may not be going on to kosovo. the comedy group that is supposed to come in here after us is socked-in in vienna, and we might be stuck. though i'm curious to see how different it is there, i don't mind all that much.