My day of driving daringly

Trip Start Jun 24, 2011
Trip End Jul 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Salmon, Foca

Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina  , Republika Srpska,
Friday, July 1, 2011

Some soul searching at the start of the day and the revision of my different cartography resources saw a renewed search for the highland villages, in particular Umoljanir and Lukomir. Teamwork between myself and robot finally allowed for a breakthrough and we wound our way into Umoljanir; it is a tiny collection of houses set against the most striking barren mountainsides. With the confidence at an all-time high the search for Lukomir, the most remote of all highland villages, was on. Heading up further into the moustains I spent over an hour meandering some of the most hauntingly beautiful sections of track, stopping at both Milisici and Lukavac in my travels. After hitting a most precarious path I strayed into a group of sheep hearders (whose dogs were less than impressed with my appearance driving apart the flock). After a quick chat it became clear I was on the opposite side of the mountain ranges in which Lukomir nestled and needed to head back to the main road and start again.
Somewhat tired after a morning of strenuous mountain driving, I returned to the pansion in Umoljanir to lunch late in the day. Burek pie was delicious, with tender chunks of lamb I am sure was roaming the hillsides not too long ago; 'Ustipci s prilogom' was herbed donuts served with homemade cheese and sour cream. Whether it was a usual boredom killer or purely for my enjoyment, watching the two children have a sword fight whilst I ate was good fun; my money was on the young brother, whose tenacity made up for the fact he was weilding the sheath. With the jousting over, I took to the hills with binoculars and searched the striking hills that surrounded the area (a small path I noticed would later be the key to finding the right track to Lukomir).
With a full stomach and another look at the map I set off on another excursion to locate this elsuive village; it took me to Sinanovici and Bobovica, but frustratingly not the desired destination. With the afternoon wearing on I considered conceding victory to the mountains when I noticed a small path indicated on the road map that did not exist in the guidebook. Using my blind reconing, I established that the path I had casually observed at lunch might very well be the road I was after. A final attempt confirmed, I headed back through Umoljanir and up a rocky, rutted road to the rim. Taking an even worse goat track, I slowly made my way down another perilous pass; not far along I ran into an old man repairing a fence. His mortified look and gesturing at my car suggested that perhaps the path did not improve and - though it seemed impossible - got even worse. He could tell me that Lukomir was a two hour hike into and around the current mountain range.
With this little hamlet somewhat an obsenssion by this stage, I donned a small pack and set off once again into some breathtaking environs. After a steep ascent and likewise descent, I found myself walking along an isolated path in a bowl of moutain peaks. The appearance of a car packed with Brits was unexpected - we had passed each other on the trails several times that day - and they gave me a five minute lift further up the road until the turn-off to Konjic. My hiking was punctuated with some quick stops at water fountains (brilliant) until after an hour and forty two mintues I wandered into Lukmoir. Elation!
The tiny little town seems like an odd departure from real time; a man reaping crops with a wooden scythe and an old woman handwashing her clothes spoke of a different existence. A curious little old lady spotted me and shouted a whole bunch of Bosnian at me. Deciding it was safest to follow her and do as she asked (lest she put the evil eye on me) I was led to her house, where she directed me to remove my shoes and join her inside. The tiny room was sweltering from the heat radiating out of the little wood stove, and again after some hurried Bosnian she had me sitting on the little bed and awaiting... something. Fortunately she was not after my skin and her return brought some amažing handcrafted goods. Selecting a pair of slipper-socks lest she take offence and scythe me (there was one near the entrance) she then proceeded to make some coffee that was actually the best I have had on the whole trip. We sat drinking our beverages across a tiny wooden table; trying to out-stare an ancient Bosnian crone is like attempting to stare a mountainside into submission. With complete silence shared for an excessively long time, and the sun beginning to start a serious descent in the sky, I gestured to the door in the hope there was not more madness to occur. She allowed me to leave and bid me a farewell as I gladly left unscathed.
A short trip around the village allowed me to stumble on some stecci - monumental tombstones carved with early christian and pagan motifs. Darting down a hiking track (serious running out of time now) I managed to spot Bobovica village in the distance.  This gave me some understanding of the miles I had covered today, and with the time on the other side of six o'clock it was really time to wear out my socks. The journey back was just as breathtaking, though it was with much relief when the Salmon popped into view on eight. Clambering aboard, removing the boots and soothing the blisters, it became apparent that my trip to Foca would have to be a hurried one.
Zipping down the mountain (by now I was as at home as the streets of Thurgoona) I set off on a trip through tight winding valley roads that would take much longer than the hour Robot predicted. There was some spectacular scenery missed on that drive in the dark, but considering the percarious nature of the roads and the rather confident manner with which I zipped around them, I was just happy to arrive in Foca without incident at 10:30.
Discovering Robot did not know any streets in Foca, my chances of finding a hotel were greatly reduced. I wandered around the town centre, hoping to maybe discover a pansion, when I came to realise a most curious caucus race was going on; young people everywhere were walking around the block over and over. After participating in this program myself (what else was I going to do?) I admitted defeat and returned to the Salmon.
A night in the car was only mostly horrible, but thankfully the exhaustion of the days adventures had sucked the energy out of me. Waking in the morning and finding this internet cafe, it was nice to sit and jot out some thoughts in the comfort of a building. Today (tomorrow in Blog entry) will probably see a journey into Stutjeska National Park and hopefully the locating of actual accommodation for the night.
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kerrie on

another lexicly dense blog which is very entertaining to read( the teacher in me has noted a few spelling errors)

Simone on

I think you have found your writer?

Matt O'Connell on

Brother, I am glad you are enjoying your trip and the camera appears to have been a good purchase however unlike the rest of the family I do not enjoy being made to read for hours on end. As I will be in New Zealand later this week my travel blog will be as follows:
1. Woke up 6 am
2. Went to the snow till 6pm
3. Got changed and went to pub/nightclub till 4am
4. Repeat

Anyways enjoy the trip and I look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip (hopefully not in blog form)

Cerina on

Your mother said I should write something. What a fantastic adventure. The scenery spectacular, and the people, shall we say accommodating. Treat Salmon and Robot well in case you need to rely on them further down the track ... or up the mountain... or across the valley... or just to get back to a home base. Stay safe and I look forward to the adventures of Andrew, Salmon and Robot.

Jessa on

Why are you going into strange women's houses!?!?!?!!? You are such a worry.

Loving the updates. Definitely getting me excited for overseas trips. At least with each blog, we can know that you hvae not been blown up to pieces and at least that's comforting.

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