Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Montenegro - Beginning

Getting up at six on a Saturday is not really my idea of fun but we had to hit the road before it gets too crowded and hot. Serbia at dawn is bursting with (unused) potential. The nature is lush and beautiful.
On Zlatibor we take a break and visit Mecavnik. The village is cute although crowded and artificial. If only real people lived in villages like this one. You have to pay to get in. Not too thrilled to give money to Kusturica, but officially it’s for charity. Hope I’m not aiding and abetting war crime fugitives...

For certain reasons we take the road less traveled and chose a route through Bosnia. It’s supposed to be fantastic, and it will be a welcome break from the usual trip via Podgorica. The roads are much worse though, we have been warned.

Munching on cookies my mother baked, we come to Visegrad. The famous bridge on the Drina still stands dominating the city and the river. It’s much more beautiful than I ever imagined it. Nature keeps getting more spectacular.
Driving along the river through the Drina canyon, I simply don’t understand how come this country disintegrated so violently. How can so much aggression be stored in people who live surrounded by such fascinating beauty? Traces of the war are still visible everywhere, houses burned or scarred. People are apparently moving on. There’s regular life amid the signs of struggle. It’s strange and I feel uneasy. I hope this will work out.

We stop at a meadow near Sutjeska and sleep a bit in a green flowery field. We are awakened by a cheerful yellow dog. Cows graze around us. The site of more battles this time from WWII the Sutjeska river provides even more breathtaking nature. The old stone monument perched on a hilltop, gray and forgotten is nevertheless powerful. Clear streams wind through a countryside reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings films.

The terrain becomes flat although we’re still high in the mountains. The surroundings look almost alien. Never been, but it reminds me of some pictures of Greenland. Bare land with shrubs for trees and a strange town of bland preassembled houses surrounding a huge power plant.
Lakes fill up the holes in this rocky terrain. Towns and villages seem lifeless and deserted.
We enter Montenegro at a remote border post. Policemen look surprised to see us/anyone, but kindly welcome us into the new state. The international road from the border looks more like a run down hiking path than a motorway. We navigate with difficulty, as the road is not wide enough for two cars to pass each other by, let alone a car and a truck (although we manage. twice), all the more difficult /scary, as on one side of the road there are sharp rocks, on the other an abyss. Fortunately there’s not much traffic. Since we left the main road in Zlatibor we only saw about a dozen cars and the two trucks (probably lost).
We pass through scary ghost towns, and further amazing backdrops, and as it starts to darken, we reach the mountain tops above Boka Kotorska. The view of the bay is spectacular, the road even more scary. We look with envy at the new modern road still under construction and begin our descent towards the sea
Arriving at our final destination, exhausted and happy to be alive, thrilled with the fantastic and horrifying journey, we pass out and sleep like babies.

Hastily I’m constructing this post on the lap-top sitting under a lemon tree in the garden, trying to squeeze an impressive one day journey through three countries and some of the most incredible and diverse nature I’ve ever seen into a short text. Next time we’ll have to bring camping gear and take time to explore.
When I’ll be able to post is a big question. I’m not in a hurry to go into town.
As for Montenegro, it’s still the same. Nobody really talks about the referendum, but I sense my friends are divided about its outcome. I congratulate those who approve; I try to persuade others that it will be ok. I think it will be. They will be fine.
What certainly hasn’t changed is how beautiful everything is. We lie in the sun all day. The sea is refreshing, perhaps a little cold. In the evening the wind blows and it’s pleasantly cool. I can never sleep so well in Belgrade. I really needed this.


MĂ«rgimtari said...

I am jealous that you are basking in the Montenegrin sun and I am sweating in the New York humidity.

I agree with your statement on Montenegro's independence. It really will be okay. I think it's also a pretty profound statement for the entire Balkans, actually: "We'll be okay."

Hopefully, someday.

Sandra said...

Reading your post reminded me of my drive through Croatia, (places I'd spent childhood vacations), Bosnia, and Serbia last summer - I felt really uneasy in Mostar although I was staying with friends of friends - it's as if you could somehow sense that terrible things had happened there, notwithstanding beautiful nature.
I hope you're right (u too mërgimtari)- that everyone will be ok.
Where in Montenegro are you?

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