So there I am, in Braga, an old miners’ village. After a 12 kilometres uphill walking with some more to go to get to a lake where I want to camp. The men at the village square shake their heads. No, you can’t get there, it’s fenced off and any further is also not possible. The lake is in private hands now and also all the surrounding area, it’s become some natural reserve. So my path is closed. What to do? It’s 7 PM, going back is not an option. The men interfere. In Bulgarian so I only catch a bit of what they’re saying. Something about a lift back, something about spending the night, something about ‘tomorrow’. Strangely, a wondrous calm comes over me. The calmness of the certainty of a solution. That’s partly due to Dançko. He is busy organizing though it doesn’t seem to have any results. A man who speaks 4 words Italian (an aunt in Turin) tries in vain to explain. Something about sleeping and tomorrow. A telephone is brought to me. A woman asks me in petfect Dutch whether I am all right. She sounds professional. Later I learn that she lives in the village but worked for the Dutch police for 7 years. Ah, that explains!
An old man passes by. He has two tomatoes and a cucumber that he puts in a characteristic pose in front of me. He grins. The village idiot, the men gesture at me. Show respect! But he means well: it takes balls to walk to Istanbul. The physical aspect is of course always there during my walk. Also the absence of intimacy and emotional connection I sometimes feel sharply.
Its getting later and the men disappear one by one from the village square. Then Dançko drives up in an old Suzuki Samurai. He is dressed in hunting gear and has a gun and a dog with him. He gestures me to get in. Well OK than eh?! I have no clue where he will take me but it will be ok. He drives out of the village up to a closed gate. See?, he indicates. No passage. We drive back in his rickety Samurai and he makes a left turn, towards a small lake where I can see some fishermen. He drives up to a big container that seems to have been remodelled to a summer house. For a moment I think we are just going for a look but he makes it clear to me that this is where I will spend the night. It looks a bit crummy. Vandals, Dançko says. He also makes it clear to me to lock the door and gives me a lantern and a hunting knife. The fishermen are OK, he says, but just to be on the safe side. I will come and pick you up tomorrow, then he leaves. Hmmm..