Freshly Pressed: A Testament to the Human Spirit

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We never imagined that our trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina would be so pivotal.

We wrote several posts about our journey, and to our surprise and delight, on Monday we were Freshly Pressed for our post Indomitable: The Kids of Sarajevo.

Krista, the editor at WordPress said,

“What a beautiful testament to the human spirit!
I’m thrilled to share it with our wider audience.”

It was a serendipitous journey – a last-minute addition to our ever-growing list of destinations on our Round-the-World trip. After viewing the bullet-riddled buildings in Mostar we came to Sarajevo – proud home of the 1984 Winter Olympics; then less than a decade later, the sad site of the longest siege in the history of modern warfare.

Our research lead us to the poignant wartime photography of Christian Maréchal, and the “Childhood in War” project by Jasminko Halilovic. The U.N. Children’s Fund declared that the Bosnian War had “created a community of suicidal children who are convinced they have no future.”

The entire experience opened our eyes to the appalling plight of noncombatants living in a war zone – much like many areas of the world now. Today, what we see in the eyes of Sarajevo’s young adults is cautious hope.

Thank you Krista and WordPress for this honor – twice now! We are proud to be part of a platform that helps bloggers like us get the message out. And thank you Christian for your powerful photographs that brought our words to life. But most of all, a big THANK YOU to all of you who read and comment – you bring us joy and you’re the reason we write.

Peace and Tolerance,
Terri & James

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We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

117 thoughts

    1. Thank you Alison and Don. As you know so well from your extensive travels, sometimes it’s the barely-planned, serendipitous journeys that lead to the most interesting discoveries. So glad to hear that you’re back to 100%. How are you enjoying your time in Vancouver? ~Terri

      1. Loving the weather, loving catching up with friends and family, loving getting some health matters cleared up (like eliminating some extra baggage from the Amazon) – Vancouver’s a wonderful city. It’s really a very important time for us to reassess and regroup. Thanks Terri.
        I’m surprised to discover that your article was written a year ago, and then updated 4 months ago, so the freshly pressed editors don’t just look at the latest posts coming in.

      2. Alison,
        Vancouver sounds like the perfect place to be to regroup and reassess. It’s a lovely city.

        And as for the age of the article, you could have knocked us over with a feather! The notification went to our spam folder, so we wondered if it was a hoax. But I’ve been noticing a trend lately that the editors are reaching further back to older posts for certain topics. Krista, the editor who selected us said, “Your post does a wonderful job educating readers on the aftermath of the war in Sarajevo, helping us all to bear witness to what happened and to learn so as never to repeat.” I can’t argue with that! So now we all know there’s hope for past posts. 🙂 ~Terri

    1. Thanks very much Sue. We were surprised and excited when we got the first award, and even more so on this one. The recognition is very welcome, but it’s readers like you who keep us motivated to look for a different perspective on things. Thanks again for following along. ~James

      1. Congrats again and you can definitely expect me to be waiting to see what creative angles you come up with next James. Bravo to both of you!

    1. Thanks for your kind words Darlene. We were especially pleased to be Freshly Pressed for this post. Our trip to Sarajevo was a real eye-opener, and this award will help others see what we saw. ~James

    1. Thanks a bunch Leslie! Talk about surprised – the notification had gone to our spam folder so we thought it was a hoax! 🙂 Are you and Steve in SMA? I’m in love with that sweet house of yours. ~Terri

      1. Aww, well you guys deserve the Freshly Pressed. You put together a fantastic blog! 🙂 Yes, Steve and I are in SMA and we love it! We couldn’t be happier with our house and garden and new little puppy!

    1. Many thanks Robert and Melinda. As you know from all your travels, you never know how a country is going to impact you. For us, Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of those eye-opener destinations. And speaking of great destinations, how did you enjoy Iceland? Your photos are beautiful! 🙂 ~Terri

    1. Many, many thanks Kan. With all of your travels I’m sure you’ve encountered war-torn nations. I found myself standing in the graveyard that used to be a park, with tears rolling down my cheeks because almost all the graves around me were kids. Have you ever had this kind of experience? ~Terri

    1. Thanks very much Laura for continuing to follow along with us. The Gallivance blog has far exceeded our expectations, and it’s readers like you that keep us going. Thanks for hanging in there. ~James

    1. Thanks very much Martha. The award was totally unexpected, and we’re happy that this was the post that was recognized. Since you were recently Freshly Pressed, I’m sure you can relate. Thanks for following along. BTW, how’s the shop remodel going? ~James

  1. Hello Terri and James,

    I owe you endless thanks for choosing to share your experiences with the world.

    Your post does a wonderful job educating readers on the aftermath of the war in Sarajevo, helping us all to bear witness to what happened and to learn so as never to repeat.

    1. Hi Krista,
      Thanks for your wonderful words and selecting our post to be Freshly Pressed.

      For some reason, Bosnia really took us by surprise and hit us hard – and we’re pretty resilient given all the places we’ve lived and traveled. But standing in a cemetery that used to be a park really brought it all home. Nearly all the new graves were kids and young adults.

      Since then we try to never be blasé about the conflicts in the world. We have vowed to pay attention, and this post was just one way to bring it to a wider audience thanks to you. Many, many thanks. ~Terri & James

    1. Thanks very much Allane. Bosnia wasn’t the easiest place to visit, but travel is about learning about cultures, and the war will forever be a huge part Bosnia’s history and national psyche. BTW, we’re off to Munich soon and I will be checking out all your posts for tips. ~James

    1. Thanks very much Anita, and just so you know, you’re our new good luck charm. In your comment on the Bill Murray post you graciously mentioned that it should be Freshly Pressed, and the next day we received the email from WordPress that our Sarajevo post had been Freshly Pressed. We didn’t expect to be FP once, let alone twice. Needless to say, we’re pretty chuffed. ~James

  2. Many congratulations!

    I, too, was moved by Sarajevo. I took a tour led by a man who had spent winters on the one mountain the city held, helping to defend it. And I visited the narrow tunnel that brought some supplies into the city. I was amazed by the resilience of the citizens, living under medieval siege conditions.

    But Sarajevo has done a good job of moving on – better than Mostar – and is a great destination aside from war history (the bridge where WWI started is there too).

    1. Thanks much Kathy. I agree about Mostar. When we visited the tourist and main shopping area had pretty much recovered, but the main street through town still had lots of bombed-out buildings. I had never seen this sort of thing before, and it was sad and very startling. The city park graveyard was also incredibly sobering. ~James

  3. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed again. I really liked that post.

    I work with many people from Serbia and I had a long conversation the other night with a young lady from Belgrade. She works two jobs – one as a Starbucks barista and the other at a Subway. She said she’s had customers yell at her when they see on her name tag that she is from Serbia. She wasn’t alive then but still deals with the aftermath in an indirect way.

    What went on in Sarajevo was no doubt horrible and it is a shame that we are having atrocities in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine right now. Human being have an unbelievable capacity for both good and evil.

    1. Thanks Jeff. Given the atrocities of the Bosnian War, I’m sure that it will take generations to heal. Memories live on in parents and grandparents who pass them down to their children. Nelson Mandela said it well: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~James

      1. That is a great quote by Mandela – I’d never heard that before. It is so true that we learn to hate and yes, it will take generations for it to improve, but it can.

    1. Thanks Pam. Both Sarajevo and Mostar were in-your-face reminders of the realities of war. Neither of us had seen bullet-scarred, bombed out buildings on this scale, and it was sobering. Bosnia wasn’t the easiest place to visit, but we’ll always be glad we did. ~James

    1. Thanks much Lynne. Christian’s photos and story really made the post. I can’t imagine going about my daily life with the constant worry of a sniper’s crosshairs on me. That and all the other hardships must have been horrible. ~James

    1. Thanks very much Kelly. This FP, like the first, was a real surprise. I’m not sure how WordPress is able to wade through the hundreds of thousands of posts each day, but we’re pretty chuffed that ours post was chosen. ~James

  4. I am pleased for you that your story got additional recognition. I remember our guide in Sarajevo who took us to Srebrenica, site of the commemorative cemetery – she told us Americans are the ones who take this tour the hardest. It did hit us how terrible things were, but nowhere near as hard as it hit the Muslim school children who were visiting Srebrenica for the first time.

    It is a tribute to the spirit of the Bosnian people that they have persevered in the wake of the war with Serbia. Your story serves them much credit, which is their due. I also recall that it was your writing that helped motivate us to make the trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina beyond visiting Medjugorje. What was most memorable was how kind the people were to us. – Mike

    1. Thanks Mike. Terri and I had never seen the aftermath of war, and it was a grim reminder of the misery that everyone must have gone through. But the younger generation is getting on with life, and that’s great to see. We had lots of little bright spots in our visit. I stopped in a McDonalds for a coffee, and was chatting with the barista (who took her job very seriously and made a tasty cappo). I complimented her on her English, and asked if she learned it in school. To my amazement, she said she had learned by watching English-language movies on cable. I was very impressed and took it as a good sign for improvements in their quality of life. ~James

  5. Terri & James – your post on the children of Sarajevo was so touching. Your travels in a country that was torn apart by such a brutal war brought home sights and stories that we wouldn’t have otherwise known.
    This FP is so very deserving. Congratulations!! I’m absolutely thrilled for you!!

    1. Thanks much Joanne. It’s always nice to have our work recognized, and we’re happy that this particular post was the award winner. Bosnia wasn’t the easiest or most pleasant country to visit, but we’ll always be glad that we did. For us, travel is about learning, and sometimes the things that we learn aren’t always gratifying. ~James

    1. Thanks very much. We were incredibly surprised and excited when we got the first FP, and equally so this time. I’d love to know more about the process that the WordPress editors use in their selection, but wouldn’t want them to think that I was looking at the proverbial gift horse. ~James

  6. Congrats! So well deserved. I remember being moved by this post – ‘liking’ it but not commenting bc it was one of those posts that you want to quietly reflect on. I’m glad more people will read it now!

    1. Thanks Lynda. This post was about Sarajevo, but visiting Mostar was just as moving for us. There’s a city park in the middle of town that was converted to a graveyard so the families of dead could bury their loved ones at night, and the snipers couldn’t see them. We did a couple of posts if you’re interested. ~James

  7. Sue was just talking about your recent freshly-pressed article. I was sure I’d seen it at the time but I don’t seem to have commented to say congratulations (sometimes I get interrupted and never get back to things). It was definitely well-deserved – I remember the original article well. I’m glad more people got to read it.

    1. Thanks Bronwyn. Since you were recently FP, I’m sure you can relate to how excited and pleased we are. Given the number of posts that are written each day, it’s amazing that ours was picked, and we couldn’t be happier. ~James

      1. I’ve read the WP guidelines on how to get FP, and other than the obvious (no porn, etc) they say that they surf the tags and like snappy titles. I read that there are 500,000 WP posts per day!! So the editors must have some guidelines like: “This week we’ll focus on travel, current events, racism, and dog-training.” But who knows? If you ever find out, let me know. In the meantime, I’m just glad to be FP. ~James

  8. Congratulations James and Terri and so well deserved. It is always interesting to read about the many wonderful places you two visit but the very best part is the backstories you share and the way you move into the essence of these cities.

    1. LuAnn, what a lovely compliment. Thank you so much. We’ve always enjoyed backstories – I guess it’s just part of our curiosity. So when Christian opened up and told us what was going on while he was photographing the kids, we just knew it was to good to keep to ourselves. 🙂 Are you still in North Dakota? ~Terri

      1. Yes I am. Terry had to rush off to Ohio to visit his father, whose health is deteriorating very quickly. It has been quite a saga, which I will probably address a bit in my next post. Some challenges have kept me away from the blog for a bit but I am working to put a post together soon.

      2. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about Terry’s father. I know from experience how difficult it must be for both of you. And it’s so hard being away from each other. I’ll be thinking about you. Hang in there. All the best, Terri

      3. Our prayer is that Terry’s dad’s last days will be peaceful and I am thankful that Terry is there to spend some quality time with him. Thanks for the warm wishes.

    1. Thanks very much. One of the rewarding things about blogging is getting our message (whatever that may be) out to a wider audience. The war in Bosnia was just a bunch of news reports until our trip there. What we saw was so terribly sad, and we thought that it was a good idea if more people knew about the realities facing the noncombatants. ~James

    1. Thanks Curt. To use an old “Laugh In” line, this second FP sort of felt like the “fickle finger of fate”, but we’ll take it nonetheless. The recognition is very welcome, but as you know, our regular readers are the ones that keep us motivated. Thanks for following along. ~James

      1. Well I remember the fickle finger of fate. LOL As for the second FP, it will only bring you more readers to enjoy and appreciate your blogs. –Curt

    1. Thanks much Carol. We’re very excited about being FP, and are happy that this post, in particular, was picked. We’ve had quite a spike in views, so lots of folks are reading about the children of Sarajevo. ~James

    1. Thanks Anita. It was a real surprise, and we’re very excited to be FP for the second time. We didn’t expect the first one, and certainly not two. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Thanks very much Juliann. Our philosophy on blogging is that whatever we write about, we try to make the post as interesting, informative, and visually appealing as it can be. The FP recognition is great, but it’s readers like you that keep us motivated. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  9. What a well deserved tribute to your work…so uplifting to believe that children can overcome this horror. There are children today too who we hope will survive and move on – Gaza comes to mind.

    1. Many thanks for your kind words. Our first encounter with children of war was when we lived in Sudan. Ever since then we’ve been particularly tuned in to the survivors and how they evolve into adults. Your point about Gaza is excellent, especially since they have such a long history of war. Perhaps, one day, there will be an uplifting story there too. ~Terri

    1. Thank you Peggy. Much appreciated. We sure have been enjoying your travels these past months. Talk about intrepid! So are you still in Kazakhstan, or have you moved on into Russia by now? ~Terri

    1. Wow Andrea – thank you so much! Your encouraging words mean so much to us. And by the way, I just saw those alien lobsters you ate in Halong Bay. Truly unique! 🙂 ~Terri

    1. Thanks very much! In addition to the children of war, I’ve always been interested in the pets that survive in such difficult situations. Have you done any posts about that? All the best, Terri

      1. Thanks Terri! Not sure yet where I’m off to next. I am doing a few social good trips here in NYC and DC in Sept. and October which should be fun but no big plans for anything out of the country as of yet. Time to get thinking!

    1. Thanks a bunch Ruth. You were one of our very first commenters when the original post was published. We appreciate your support and encouragement so much! Are you traveling now? ~Terri

      1. Yes, I’m in Stockholm! I went to the Vasa Museum yesterday and saw that you also visited there. Any other tips for things to see while I’m here? Today a huge counter-protest to a Neo-Nazi demonstration prevented us from walking to Gamla Stan…will try again tomorrow!

      2. I love Stockholm, Ruth! Interesting about the counter-protest. If you can get there we really enjoyed Skansen, the open air museum. Stay safe and have fun! ~T

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