Cities & mountains

Life in the Slovakian farm community is amazing! I’ve met brave people living in tipi’s (and in winter it can get down to -30 celsius!). I learned to work the sickle, scythe and pickaxe (I always thought those only existed in communist propaganda and nethack), I’ve been chasing escaped chickens and goats, and getting eggs from the first, and milk from the last ones.

Just after lunch on Monday two travellers with one bike show up, asking for directions to Kralova, a nearby village. Two hours later they suprisingly show up again, tell us how much they like the place, and ask if they can stay for the night. And, of course they’re welcome! But, there are always a lot of people coming and going like this. Somedays it seems I talk to more people here on this remote farm then while roaming across Europe. Some people stay one hour, others one day or a week, but it’s always ‘Hello’ – ‘Goodbye’ in the end. It wears everybody down who stays here a long time, except Rob, the one guy who’s staying for 9 months already, it seems he just doesn’t attach to people.

I’m looking for a more spiritual place than this farm, and a deeper connection to the people around me. So I go on, buy some bread and butter for my last Slovakian crowns, which should be enough food to cross the whole of Poland and get to Vilnius, where I’ll finally be getting my Russian visa. But of course I forgot to plan the unexpected – by a weird chain of hitchhiking related coincedences I end up playing football in Warsawa, stay with a Sikh and end up going the opposite direction from Vilnius. Three hundred kilometers south east, in Rseszow, some friends are organising a meeting. And this is where I show up a week after leaving Slovakia and where I decide to join Frank and Johannes on their hiking tour in the Polish mountains.

How could it be else than ending up in the mountains? Of course it’s the place for me. I’m always happy to go back to the woods after visiting cities, and always uneasy when going the opposite direction. It seems to get worse though – cities unnerve me more and more, while the tranquility of being in the mountains is pulling me stronger every week. Of the last 10 weeks I spend half in forests in Belgium, Slovakia and Poland, and it seems it will still be more in the next months.

There’s never happening a lot, but there’s also not the need for anything to happen. For my three weeks in the Slovakian hills I’m happy to just breathe the fresh air, see the sun come up beyond the hills in an amazing display of colours and to dissapear in the same way, to have an occasional sweathut and to face the daily challenge of cutting the dark, five kilo heavy bread with a saw.

Even though I chose not to stay in this life for now, it taught me a lot about how I could live.

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