It looks as if my routeplanner has decided on different tactics after my call for joy. There are 1000+ meter high hills and thunderstorms in my future. I call them mountains because I look up at them in fear. So mountains they are.
Early depart from Niš, therefore, back to my rhythm. As long as it’s not too hot, the climbing is ok. But after 12 it gets oppressively hot. The thunderstorm is already brewing. Because I sweat heavily, especially when climbing, I worry about water. There is more than plenty coming from a rock. I consider the aspect of quality, but the thirst is bigger and the water cool and refreshing. A moment later I find this village, just round the corner. This unreal fascination with water of mine. I still need to get up higher, to a ski piste (in wintertime eh). Two young men offer to take me there, they’re going anyway, they say. What about water up there, I ask. There’s a well, they say. While driving they offer me a a piece of grilled pork. And rakia. They are dragging two grilled piglets and a liter of rakia up the mountain. Turns out it’s their Saturday evening hang out. I doubt about walking on. The next village is 15 km further and surely there will be no water in between. I decide to stay, set up camp and when the thunderstorm bursts loose at the end of the afternoon I am sitting dry in my little tent. My Serbian friends regularly come and check on me. Are you all right? Come down to the village with us, they say. But I am all right here and going back down the mountain with all that rakia doesn’t sound enticing at all. Oke, but call if you need anything. Promise!? Nice guys.
The thunderstorm lasts all night. I love that, lying in my snug little tent. At 0630 it dries up a bit and I pack up. Wet, yes, but that will dry. No lack of water on the way. There’s mist, there’s fine rain and there’s heavy rain. The deep trenches of the tractor wheels are filled with water. That little village, in this weather a depressing view of wooden houses, cow sheds and rusty military trucks, has a well. An old man shows me the way. We sit together in his tiny house. He doesn’t offer anything, he has nothing he can offer. I am careful, it’s sliding and slipping rather than walking. At the end of the day, after a gruesome climb and descend, my back is aching desperately. Out of fear for falling I keep my back muscles tensed up. All day. I feel it tonight, not sure how I will feel tomorrow. We’ll see.
At the end of the day the sun shows it’s face through the clouds, just for a bit. It feels as if the mountain mocks me. Tomorrow is going to be ‘just another sunny day’. After today I am not so sure which I prefer. It’s both hard work.