‘Living the dream’ with Ira

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Ira Nagel (1971) has 18 years of experience in the travel industry in the Netherlands and abroad. She worked for seven years in Turkey, two and a half years in Portugal and also for a while in the Canary Islands. For seven years, she was the owner of the first spiritual coffee bar Namasté Café in the Zeelheldenkwartier in The Hague, where she gave trainings focused on spirituality and higher consciousness. In early 2022, she moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Visoko) where she gives spiritual retreats and coaches people in personal development. " In order to grow, change is necessary. I found that in an amazing place in spiritual Bosnia".

‘My friends and family asked me often what are you looking for in these strange countries’

‘I have to go to Bosnia’

‘I worked as a tour guide in Turkey from 1997 to 2003 and that’s where I met my lover, who was from Belgrade. We got into a long-distance relationship. He was still a trainee doctor and he took a year off. Through him, I followed the war in the former Yugoslavia and then my interest in this area grew. At some point the relationship broke up, but my work required me to be in Croatia and Slovenia a lot. I started travelling a lot all over the Balkans, back then with those Centrotrans buses. From Dubrovnik to Montenegro and then back to Belgrade and from Belgrade to Greece. My friends and family thought what are you looking for in these strange countries and mainly associated it with the war. But that was long over. I was enormously drawn to Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. In Croatia I was often there for work and every time I was there I thought, I have to go to Bosnia, even if it is to eat ćevapčići (sausages made of meat) in Mostar (laughs)’.

‘Everything depends on connections here’

My trip to Bosnia 

‘In 2019, I was at a dinner in The Hague and then someone tipped me to visit the Bosnian pyramids in Visoko.  Soon I organised a trip with a group and after that it became like a second home. The people here live in the hills, grow their own vegetables and fruit and you can tap clean water from the source! Just fresh mineral water and the energy here is so high. Then I bought a piece of land in Visoko from my savings. I soon realised that I really wanted to move to Visoko, but wasn’t sure of whether to sell my flat in The Hague. I had just talked to someone about it and when I got home, my nameplate fell off the door. This was a very clear message (laughs). I sold my flat well and from that I was able to build two houses here. One house for myself to live in and one guest house to rent out. I will also organise individual retreats and guide people in a healthy mindset, nutrition and also spirituality’.

‘Paradise is here, you don’t have to go to Asia or far away’

Two cottages Ira had built in Visoko overlooking the hills of Visočica.
The retreat house in Visoko

Residence permit 

‘Everything did get delayed, it’s like the tv-show ‘Ik vertrek’, but that’s part of it. For residence permit, you have to go through all kinds of procedures. Paperwork for the house has also been a process but we are now entering a final stage. While I was arranging all this I did find love, he comes from the Czech Republic. So I did have time to build a relationship and see all kinds of amazing places here. I discovered one thing, paradise is here, you don’t have to go to Asia or far away at all’.  

Connections

‘Everything here depends on connections. Visoko is just a small town, everyone knows each other and without connections, you won’t get anywhere. I bought orgonite stones in corona time from a trader here in Visoko. He made beautiful creations and I sold them in the Netherlands. During corona I had to close my business and my webshop could continue. So we helped each other in a difficult period. He comes from a big entrepreneurial family who also build houses here and have connections. A man like that is kind of a ‘padrino’ here so I owe a lot to him’.

Ira looking out over the mountains in Visoko

Always welcome

‘Sometimes awareness is a bit lower here and I mean that in the sense we all go barbecuing in a park on Sunday and then we just leave the rubbish. Of course, not everyone, just like everywhere are there differences in people. For instance, when I tell them what I do, people generally react positively and say; “we go to the mosque or church and we pray. That’s actually the same as what you do, meditating” What I do find remarkable is that most people here do everything out of love. You are always welcome for coffee, you get a bag of tomatoes from their own garden and they will always help you out. People here are not aware that they are ‘conscious’.

Everything is already here 

‘I  believe in the principle that everything is given to me from the divine source. This means I don’t have to worry about whether I will receive my money on time or whether my needs will be met. Because if you think it has to come from your customer, you might have to start manipulating that customer to take something from you. To me, a customer is a resource and they are sent to me. When I look at the people here in the mountains, who live simple lives, milk their cow every day, grow their own vegetables and fruits and pickle everything themselves for winter, they also live this way. So that is a very beautiful consciousness. We have everything here. Unconsciously, they are aware. They live with nature, they know exactly which plant is good for what’.

‘Samo polako’ – Take it easy

‘A lot of people in the Netherlands dream of living self-sufficiently, growing their own vegetables and fruit, own land and house, no more mortgage. We dream of that and here it has never been different. And it is the only country where they say ‘samo polako’ or take it easy, well you won’t hear anyone say that in the Netherlands’.

‘There are also people at the immigration department who ask what I am doing here and don’t understand why I come to live here’

‘Svaka čast’ – Well done  

‘I am the second Dutchwoman who came to live here, in Sarajevo you have many more expats. My neighbours tell me: ‘you are a hero here. Impressive to put this down in a foreign country with a foreign language (laughs). “Svaka čast” (well done), they say.  They wish me good luck in my new country. But there are also people like at immigration office who ask what I come here to do and don’t understand why I come to live here. Because there are political problems and no jobs, they prefer to go to the West. But you have that in the Netherlands too. Many people here think the West is better but right now it’s really freer and more independent here. Because of my arrival, people also start looking at their own country with different eyes. I often tell them that they live in paradise. Of course, I understand that you need to have an income here too. There are also people who have no money to visit their aunt in Zenica, less than an hour away. If people here would learn that they can also work independently and have their own business, they would live in a paradise. Some see it others don’t’

Future

‘Everything comes together here for me. I come from the tourism industry, so I have travelled a lot in my life. I have seen so many countries and done a lot. I think it’s going to be booming here in the next few years in terms of tourism. Many people are going to discover it and I think I’m going to be busy. This was a quiet year in terms of work, also because I had to arrange a lot around moving. Ideal scenario is that I work hard for eight months a year and take it easy the rest of the time and travel a bit around. In the winter months, I also want to focus a bit more on the locals. Also make a price list for the Bosnians, for healing and head massage and things like that. Giving a bit back to the community too’. 

At the water source next to Gazi Husrev Beg mosque in the heart of Sarajevo.
Visoko is a 35-minute drive from the capital Sarajevo

‘Coming here just to get away from the Netherlands is not a good motivation’

Emigrating to Bosnia & Herzegovina

‘Procedure for a residence permit here is quite complicated and takes at least nine months. Because there are so many details you have to pay attention to, I described d it in an E-book ‘Living in Bosnia‘ with tips. I was really called to this adventure and I had to be here. So every obstacle that comes is not a problem for me. I see it as my initiation to be here and I also have to adapt. If you come here just to leave the Netherlands, that is not a good motivation. If you are not Bosnian or are not married to a Bosnian it is a tough road. Because it is not an EU country it all takes a bit longer and is more difficult. Get well informed would be my advice’.

Favourite spots

‘Lake Prokoško is an hour’s drive from Visoko and is highly recommended because you enter a totally different world. The lake is also quite deep and it is freezing cold. There are cows walking around, you can eat delicious pita and it is a peaceful place’.

Another place I can recommend is Ethno village Semešnica in Donji Vakuf, there is a fish restaurant Ribnjak Semešnica with all kinds of waterfalls. Beautiful surroundings and good food.

In the countryside and among the waterfalls, you can eat fresh fish at Ribnjak Semešnica.
Lake Prokoško is a lake of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located in the municipality of Fojnica and is 1,670 metres above sea level.

Near Visoko is the egg-shaped pyramid Tumulus ‘Vratnica’ and is truly a place of power. About 5 km from Visoko and is a place of positive energy. Few people know it, it is easy to climb and a really nice place.

Ira is an expert on manifesting your ideal life. She first came across manifesting and the Law of Attraction in 2006 and learnt more about it. Since then, she has been perfecting her manifestation skills as a diehard student and organises trainings, retreats and healings. Find more information on  Namaste-cafe