I’ve been in Tuzla for about a week. I drove between the city and some villages around, talking with people and sharing a lot of coffees. The region was the scene of one of the most violent chapters during the Balkan war. Potočari and Srebrenica are just two of the names that are sadly notorious.
All territories along the Serbian border have suffered a violent crackdown, a systematic genocide of the population. Today, after little more than two decades the traumas are still deeply rooted in the soul of the victims and it will take at least one generation to come back to normal peaceful life.
It is an average Bosnian city with about 120,000 residents. There is a water park in the center where residents can
refresh and enjoy a little relaxation on the banks of the artificial salt lake (Panonsko). Salt is one of the city’s resources and the coal is the other. The mines are everywhere and thermoelectric plant helps making the air heavy and heavily polluted. For the rest I had the feeling that people just exist. The city is like asleep. Few opportunities for social life, little desire to find them.
The old town is very small, just over 20 minutes walk and you cross completely the oldest part (Stari grad). The main square (Solni trg) is a meeting place, but never crowded. Along the main street (Turalibegova) you can find bars and restaurants. A place where you can drink good Rakija is Urban Beatz, a bar overlooking the City Park (Gradski park).
I find it really difficult to tell you something else about Tuzla. My experience is mostly related to the recording of a documentary, but that’s another story I will tell you later. I cannot say that it is dangerous or degraded, it is a normal place compared to the region.
Many people have told me that petty crime is almost nonexistent, and yet something is missing in this city. What remains in my mind is the lack of a soul, I could not feel the city life. The experience I had suggested to me a place where everyone who lives on his own, there are few relationships with others and little is the need to have them.
Who has the chance to go is gone and tries to build their lives elsewhere. As often happens, the dream is Germany or Sweden, which now attract more and more educated people and the desire to build their own destiny.