…It was my first great walking adventure, my first step into the unknown, an adventure that was first and foremost full of crazy and wild things, the true kind of adventure.
It lasted around 97 days, from July 9th to September 11th 2012., an adventure in which I walked more than 1800 km in my homeland Croatia, mostly without any food and money, sleeping outside in my small summer sleeping bag.
And this is how it has all started:
Saturday, June 9th 2012. – Day I.
Day Trip: Zagreb – Klinca sela – Jastrebarsko
…City of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, a small country in the southeast corner of Europe. The new summer is beginning. Hot roads, sun high in the skies, thousands of people running around desperately seeking for the meaning of their miserable and boring lives. High traffic, crowded trams and buses, people going to work. The air is so hot and humid that you could cut it with the knife. And it´s only the beginning of the June. The real hot summer is yet to come.
West side of the city, the neighborhood of Tresnjevka, in the history a nice place covered with green grasses and small forests, a couple of small streams. A place created for a peaceful and pleasant life. But not today. In the last few decades this small piece of paradise changed colors, from green to black, from forests and lawns to factories, small private brickyards, big residential buildings for working classes, mostly for people who worked in this factories and on the railroad that cuts this part from the neighborhood of Crnomerec on the northwest side of the city, a more classy neighborhood for private entrepreneurs and old rich folks.
In one small apartment in this working class neighborhood, in front of the big red skyscraper, an icon of the neighborhood, sits one lonely and introverted male creature. Deep green eyes full of mystery, blond hair, skinny and miserable, trying to find a meaning of his own life.
Three years have passed since he had a job, money, a decent place to live, a life of the ordinary man. Three years of solitude and despair. Three lonely years thrown to the wind. In these three years he saw a bad side of the life. Living on the streets, as a lowlife, bum, tramp and a gambler, always in a search for a better life that was just a dream which will never come true. Sleeping in the abandoned facilities, forests, caves, abandoned tunnels, in the places that are not created for a normal people. Eating bad food full of grease, salt and sugar in the local public kitchens, along with other miserable creatures that were no longer considered to be alive, just a numbers in a city´s stats.
But this young man in his early 30´s never gave up on his life, always struggling to find a better place for himself, to find a new meaning of his lonely life. He read books in the local libraries, started to write his own blog, entered in the world of mystics and spirituality just to amuse himself and not to think of the cruel world that surrounded him every day.
By writing that small blog that no longer exists, he came to an idea how he could make his miserable everyday life a little bit better, a little bit meaningful. And he thought about it on that hot day the June 9th, when he was siting in that small room, thinking what to do and where to go.
He was sick and tired always spending whole summer in that boring and desperate city. He wanted something new, a new adventure in his life, something to make his blood go wild, and his mind to set free.
He picked up his stuff, just a few basic things, put them in a small rucksack, and without any money or food went on a journey of his life. A new life.
He said goodbye to this small apartment that he lived in the last 20 years, together with his mother, got out and while traveling in a local city tram thought about everything, his past life, his new adventure, all his worries and all good and nice things that he will see on his new journey, first big adventure that he ever made in his life.
Coming to the big city square in the centre of the city of Zagreb, he met his long-time friend, talked to him for a short period, and then went on his big adventure.
Freshly shaved and with his new short haircut he made a vow not to cut or shave before he comes back, if he ever comes back. Just like a real pilgrim. Siting on the seat and driving in the local bus, he thought he will probably never come back, at least not alive.
He was always a lively and prominent child, always on the edge, never understood by others, and that was one of the reasons why he always suffered in his life.
But not that day. That was a new day. Dreams are over, reality is what is now. Brave and fearful at the same time, he knew that this day was a beginning of the new life. Even if he had to die for it.
While siting in that old bus, he remembered the last year, the beginning of May 2011., when he was prepared for the same trip that he was going on this day. The trip that ended badly, with thorn shoes, bad blisters and totally wet from the rain that was falling on that damn day. Day that he had to return to Zagreb, after only a couple of hours on that trip.
He also remembered nice things he stumbled upon, a pair of horses eating grass in the meadow, butterflies dancing in the flower field, warm sunny day with blue skies, a pretty old tree in the middle of the corn field. But also he remembered all the poor wild animals he saw on the road, overrun by cars. That were really bad memories.
The bus came to the end of its road, and the lonely traveler had to get out and continue his trip by foot, his first steps into the unknown and wild. His first steps of his new life. On that day he was born again.
His first eight kilometers have passed in a blink of an eye. Walking along green mountains of Zumberak, with the smell of freshness in the country air, made his lungs and brain feel once more alive.
On the big slope, he entered the mountainous city of Jastrebarsko, the city of the hawks.
(continued in In the City of the Hawk…)
(Cover Image & Source: Zelena Potkova, Zagreb @ eSfera)