Out of all the things within a reasonable range I’m certain I’m not good at, directions rate first. I’m an exemplary case study of topographic infantilism. With time, I’ve reconsidered my attitude to it from that of frustration due to the loss of time and effort, to enjoying the process – as an opportunity, so marvelously conditioned by my total inability to position myself in space, for discovering places which otherwise would have been neglected. In other words, a ‘we are lost, but we are making good time’ approach.
I have just reconsidered my attitude again. Nothing is finite, isn’t it.
Waking up on Sunday morning at 6.30, I had a shower, took my camera, two apples, a bottle of water, and set off to Gorniy Stoliv. A magic place my friend introduced me to last week. It’s located up in the mountains. A half-hour steep walk takes you to a little derelict village inhabited by a single family, an elderly couple. There’s a number of old stone houses – all abandoned, and a little chapel with a cemetery of marines born in the end of the 18th century. You can see the whole of the Boka bay from there. It’s beautiful and peaceful. ‘You can come and do your yoga here, said Anton. ‘I might as well become one it’s so peaceful here’, I replied, and decided I will be coming over here once a week to stay on my own in the quiet of nature, if ever distracted by the bleating of the goats grating on the grass nearby. I took a package of musli and some spices (was all I had ‘packaged’ at home, as it was too early for any shops to be open at the time I was on my way) for the elderly. They didn’t look particularly friendly though when I was passing by, so I just left it on a wall of a nearby house- the man takes the goats up and down that path, so he’d find it. I walked up and around, climbed over the fence to the little chapel and stayed there for a while, I didn’t find the beseeched quite there though –as the granny decided to cut the tree brunches in the morning and the sound of cutting wood was drilling away the silence.
Leaving the village I stopped at a little crossroad seeing a sign of some other location in the direction opposite to the village, up the mountain. "When you come to a fork in the road, take it', they say. I decided to have a look. I was having a look for 5 hours.
I followed the inviting path joyfully, feeling the sense of adventure, augmenting with the path whirling up and down, and getting increasingly challenging, eventually becoming hardly traceable.
I was guided by the little red marks on tree trunks and stones, and a thought of turning back did not cross my mind. I had a look at my mobile to see the time and discover that there’s no reception. I kept on going, working my way over moss-coated stones, through thorns and brunches of dry trees growing at quaint angles over the steep mountain. What was envisaged as a light-hearted, curiosity-imposed walk mutated into something quite different. Soon the path was barred by a fallen gargantuan tree, spreading and interlacing its branches up and down the hill. I climbed over it, and labored my way through its harsh lacing. For some long minutes the red marking was nowhere to be seen. Tempted to turn back I reasoned, I was still close to the last mark, so I’d find my way back easily, and carried on. After a while of walking what looked like it could be a path, or rather what was more or less ‘walkable’, I spotted a red life-saver…years ago, I went cloud-hunting with an adventurous friend of mine. Likewise, we followed a path –the path ended abruptly, we’ve wandered for hours till we found our way back. That memory did cross my mind as I was getting deeper into the forest. The sun sheltered away by densely growing trees, I could only see the sunshine-lit sea down at the distance. However, in a while the trees and bushes parted, the path became wider rising up and taking me to a perfectly flat green lane. I gasped. I was on top of the mountain.
It came as a pure surprise, as I was never intending to go up that mountain, nor was I expecting the path to bring me there as the ups seemed to be equally balanced by the downs on my way. I sat in the sun, mesmerized by the view. The anxiety faded away, overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of the surroundings – I was in the middle of the sky facing the tops of the mountains, looking down to the quiet, mirror-like waters of the Boka Bay crowned by solemn gray rock cliffs. I sat and listened to the mountain breathing –in a bubble o f a bee, in the wind merely whispering, in a tender, caressing touch of the mellow autumnal sun. No longer was there an I, having dissolved and merged with the all-permeating magic. I couldn't say how long I stayed there before I came back to reality, realizing there was not much time left till the darkness set in for this part of the bay enjoys scarce hours of sunshine, barred by the circle of mountains. I was thinking of going further, to the location I had envisaged to arrive to initially. But there was no sign of the path, and I turned back on the trail walked before. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when the trail disappeared –it just happened all of a sudden, no longer was there a path or a red sign on any tree trunk. I could hear the workers toiling the day away and the cows mooing at the foot of the mountain, but how does one gets there if there is no path. I got lost.
Fear is an overwhelming and strange feeling. It takes you unawares and is there – independently, not being part of you, but imposing on you.
I had experienced the same just a few days before my walk in the enchanted forest.
It certainly shook me from inside, if only lasted a few seconds. Most crucial moments in life are indeed moments – which go beyond the human-imposed concept of time. Another earthquake happened again the following night, at approximately the same time. Right there and then comes the long-awaited silence of the mind, free of all thoughts, you are unprotected and naked –virtually and metaphorically –facing the power of nature, facing the fear induced by it – averaging out everyone. Unalloyed socialism. I turn off the light and lie in darkness with my eyes open. Waiting. It's pitch dark. In darkness every sensation is more acute, maybe that is why lovemaking’s been primarily allocated to night time. Maybe that is why the earth tremors at night as well. My heart’s still racing – uncontrollably against my will and to my own bewilderment... One’s got to give credit to a human being -so persistently and with such abandonment looking for a meaning and sincerely believing there is One (or two), somewhere at some point –to be found. I read recently: a human being is an animal who can think about the future. I’d reword it: a human being is an animal who can ignore the present.
I close my eyes. ‘Checkmate…or no. not yet. Another time,’ he’d smile contemptuously. – ‘Maybe tomorrow’.
Too many words. It’s all been said and repeated all over again. I’d better do something useful. Paint the grass…or get lost in the mountains.
I finally jumped and weeded my way through to the path, all scratched, horns stuck into my jacket and skin, hair disheveled - a robinson cruso after the shipwreck.
I lost my scarf – I really like it. I’ll have to come back here again to find it.
In two hours I joined a group of enthusiastic expats for a hash walk. Hash club – a ‘drinking club with a running problem’. Apparently, I’ll have to start drinking to become a full member.