Ahh! It’s a beautiful day. After two nights at the beach, this campsite feels like home; here the sheltered cooking spot, there the dogged clothes line – everything in its place. I could definitely have another rest day here. It was too windy to go swimming yesterday, but already this morning I’ve gone for a dip in the turbid waters of Buško jezero (a lot grosser up close, to be honest).
We’re only going 15 km today, but I feel like mountains. Kris is still asleep in the tent, and why wake her? There’s no rush.
It almost seems a shame to be walking today – this weather is made for lolling by the beach. Yesterday we were plagued with rain, so we spent much of our time in the pizzeria up the road – a bizarre place. Pretty much everyone but us was playing bingo. They’d sit at their solitary tables, staring intently at the numbers flashing on the screen, then, after ten or so games, duck into the back room to buy another ticket. Some people played nonstop for hours. It was all much more depressing than I thought bingo could be.
Better make some breakfast. Oh, muesli again.
We managed to walk past two cafes before giving in and going into the third. I think we’ve come about five kilometres, so probably deserve a break. Besides, the phone needs to charge…
The walking so far has been along the main road, but with lots of off-road long-cuts that scoop down to the lake and up again. Unfortunately, it seems that the water level is high at the moment, since the alternative routes keep dipping underwater. It’s meant a little bit of back tracking, and the occasional leap of faith down an unmarked path, but it’s all turned out well so far.
This cafe bar is a tough little place – definitely more bar than cafe. Sparse but welcoming – though there’s a ‘White Boys’ sticker behind the counter. Besides us, there’s only one other group of people here, and they seem to be friends with the owner – she sits with them whenever she’s free. Perhaps learning from her that we’re tourists, a man calls out over the room “Speak English? Where are you from?”
“Australia,” we reply, putting on our best smiles for our country.
“Ahh, Australia,” he echos, musing over the word. I know what’s coming next; we’ve come to learn that this knowing pause can only mean one thing: “I have a friend there. In Sydney.” Right on queue. But then the man veers off the usual script: “I will call him.”
And before I know it, he’s beckoning me to take his mobile. It’s over a week since our last clothes wash – we each only have one set of hiking clothes – and I’m feeling pretty smelly, so I take the phone with outstretched arm and stand as far away as possible.
“Hello..?” I say cautiously, not really knowing what to expect.
And thus begins my brief acquaintance with John who lives in Parramatta, works in Leichardt, and is originally from this tiny Bosnian town. He’s incredulous that we’ve come here, and I tell him all about our hike. No, we’re not doing it for charity. Yes, we must be mad. Apparently he hasn’t seen the man who gave me the phone for thirty-one years.
Handing back the phone, we decide there’s probably time for another coffee. We’ve been here well over an hour, but still no rush. Another ten kilometres along the road really shouldn’t take very long.
We stayed at the cafe for long enough to charge the phone, and then a little while after that. By the time we left it was after midday, so three kilometres later we decided to have lunch in a handy road-side bird watching tower. It was basically just a metal box on stilts. We didn’t see any extraordinary birds, but there was a nice view over the lake, and we snoozed for a while as a light sprinkle of rain patted onto the metal roof.
From there it was just a quick amble across a river, down a valley, and up a hill to where we were accosted by a friendly Bosnian lady. She made the universal ‘sleeping’ gesture; we nodded. She ushered us into her house; we followed. And that’s how we ended up here, at Bošnjak Household.
Our host, Ivica, has been really welcoming, making us a delicious vegetarian dinner of cheese, potato and spinach fried… things. I’ve forgotten the name, but they were incredible. Using a combination of sign language and the many photos which grace the walls, she told us about her daughters who live abroad, and her husband who is either rock climbing in Macedonia for four days, or perhaps, very sadly, died rock climbing in Macedonia four years ago. You can tell she really misses him. You can really feel that before this house started providing hiking accommodation, it was a bustling family home.
After excusing ourselves from yet another helping of dinner, we headed up to bed, stopping to visit the goofy dog outside.
Today has been dreamy – almost like a second rest day. After so many days of hiking to cover ground, it’s been nice to spend some time just wandering through a place, letting the trail dictate its own pace. And dinner really was delicious. Mmmmm.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stage 26
Start and end points: