21 July 2017
In the Lake Skada region, on the banks of a river, sits the forgotten town of Rijeka Crnojevića. In the middle of nowhere. A beautiful, sad and charming place. It must have been quite something in its hay day. The dilapidated stone buildings and -streets attest to this. There is still a wide promenade on the river bank with stone benches and walls and a fountain. But it hasn’t been maintained for a long time. Weeds are everywhere and wild grass stand tall between the concrete blocks. It’s a sad picture.
I love places like this. Forgotten places. Places with a story. People affected by life and war and all sorts of tragedies. People who have lost hope. I feel for these people. I feel intense sadness as I drink in the devastation.
I wonder what can be done to restore this place. I long to see laughter in the dull eyes and on the unfriendly faces. I know that it is possible. How I would love to witness a total transformation here.
We rent a little stone house, right on the promenade and in the middle of all the village activities. There are not too many of these. Mostly people sitting around, talking, smoking, looking defeated. We have the perfect view. From our little balcony we can hear every conversation (not that we can understand it), see what’s happening in all three restaurants, have the small river boats right in front of us and have the very best view of the iconic old stone bridge.
We hire kayaks and make our way down the river towards Lake Skada. We have already gulped down several glasses of water from the tap. We now realise that was a mistake. There is fat / oil on the water. And it is rather dirty. All our swim plans disappear instantly. As we make our way further and further away from our village, the water gets better, even beautiful. But we have seen too much and now we can see too little. We’re not going overboard.
In the early evening we take a stroll down the old promenade. It stirs all sorts of emotions in my heart. We have dinner at the cheapest of the three restaurants. We sit under the grapevines on the river bank. The local kebabs (not on a skewer and not like anything you would imagine, more like elongated meatballs) is served with homemade fries. We order a large salad, which turned out to be incredibly good. We ask for tap water. Then the confirmation. The tap water is not fit for human consumption. Oh boy!! As we stand on the bridge a little later we see that all the fatty restaurant kitchen water goes straight into the river.
That evening Eulain comes down with a tummy bug of note. The next day of road tripping includes lots of vomiting in plastic bags. Kali, Ruzow and I are next in line, followed by Jarik. Esto is the last man standing. We shall be more careful in future.
Rijeka Crnojevića is a lovely little place and it will forever be in my heart.
– Mariza –