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I am lying on my back in a scorched dry hay meadow. My heart is thumping uncontrollably. It is 3 PM and 40 degrees C. and I just climbed a hill filled with thornbushes, dried up flowers and low hanging branches.  Sweat is gushing out of all my pores and little streams of blood make their way down from my arms. Planes are making their approach to Belgrade airport. Big white clouds float oh so slowly through the sky. I am lying completely still, longing to catch and feel the tiniest breath of wind. I am that quiet that a deer unsuspectingly passes by in less than a meter. There is rustling in the bushes, small stuff (I hope). There are bees and flies and butterflies. If I had more water with me, I would have set up camp right here. But I have just seen the last drops evaporate through my pores. There still is half a litre, but that’s for emergencies and won’t keep me through the night. So I trudge on.

The sultans trail goes across hills and through plum orchards. The plums have already been harvested. Why the path doesn’t choose a more doable route I don’t know, many times it’s overgrown with shrubs and branches. Choosing a different path by myself is difficult because the GPS map doesn’t show any. So I stay on the trail, afraid to get lost. A couple of kilometres after my heart thumping experience I hear the heavy drone of an engine. My first thought is how nice it would be if this were an irrigation unit and how I would let myself get soaking wet. I am not that far off actually. It is a rigging drill. Russian type, the two workers explain the noise with a smile. They clean up my bloody arm. They make Turkish coffee for us. And they give me bottles full of water and a bottle of herbal lemonade of which they say it is an aphrodisiac for women. On men it has the averse effect, they grin. So now I can camp out! Watch out for wild pigs, they warn.  Phoey, who cares about wild pigs? I have a lion in my rucksack! So here I am now, with my little tent in a plum orchard and a slowly disappearing view of the rolling hills.

Sleep comes slowly tonight. My heart keeps on thumping away. The half moon sits perfectly still in the sky. Have the Serbians found some elastic cord to keep it fastened to their country? I get control through my breathing excercises. I have a caleidoscope of invasive images and then I feel it for real. I knew myself to be borne in some way but now I feel it deep within me. I also have some disturbing images, those I put down to tiredness.

    3 Comments

  1. Hi Wim! This is a most interesting, highly descriptive and evocative entry in your blog. I’m envious of your current route and indeed, your walking achievements thus far. Take care and enjoy the moment. Do you remember this from the ‘Book of Joy’?

    ‘Perhaps that is what it means to be fully present, available for each moment and each person we encounter, untethered by the ruminating memories of the past and not lured by the anticipated worry about the future’!

    Take care and keep writing (and walking!)

    • There is only the moment of the now when you’re doing this walk. All the attention to surviving and moving forward. Is easy… 😉

  2. That’s a powerful entry, Wim, and quite a day! Thank you for sharing. So different here; i am just back in Mozambique where it is Winter and almost chilly in the sea breeze. Hopelessly distracted from desk work today by Humpback whales breaching beyond the office windows.

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