Postcards to Wanda: Bosnia-Herzegovina

Writing postcards may not seem like a difficult task, but it’s a process that certainly takes some effort.

First, you have to have local currency to buy the postcard itself. Most gift shops won’t do a credit card transaction for a single item that costs around one US dollar. Moreover, international post offices are notorious for being cash-only operations, so you’ll need local currency for stamps as well.

Then, finding a place that sells stamps can be quite onerous. We are often visiting places on the weekends when post offices are closed, and most countries strictly control the locations where postage stamps can be sold. In the United States, we take it for granted when we buy stamps in the grocery store or from a vending machine. In many countries, it’s the post office or nothing.

And, even if we are visiting during the weekday, post offices are not always easy to find. In Russia, we had to enter an apartment building and climb four flights of stairs before we found the post office sandwiched between tenement housing on one side and a derelict coffee shop on the other.

And queues can often be twenty customers or more. We have spent many hours waiting in line to buy a single fifty-cent stamp.

Then there’s the business of locating a post box. Inexplicably, some post offices around the world won’t actually post a letter for you. Although you have the postcard, and you bought the stamp right there at the counter, you still have to walk three blocks to find a red (or yellow or blue or black or green) box to actually get the postcard started on its journey.

And, once you finally figure out the rules of one place, you’re moving on to the next and having to get another crash course in postage bureaucracy. Funny how something so simple can become so exhausting.

Full disclosure, this isn’t always the case. In several countries our hotel provided free postcards in the room, stamps at the front desk, and a very polite, “Why, yes! I would be happy to post that for you, Mr. Ballard!” (Thank you, Oman and China!)

But quite often, the struggle is real.

That said, here is the postcard from Bosnia. It’s the first we could send from the Balkan states because of the speed with which we were traveling and because of everything I said above.

Hard fought, but Wanda is worth it. And so are you. Enjoy!