Squirrel's Secret Spots No:1 (Plitvice Lakes)

on Saturday, October 14, 2006

Where do squirrels go to for holidays? I doubt they ever really go on holidays, unlike us lucky humans. So to answer that question, I will have to use my mind's eye and apply the power of imagination. It seems to me that squirrels would love nature of course, prefer branches less taken instead of the main trunk, stay close to an abundance of food and would be keen to try local fruits and nuts. Being successful exploiters of human habitation, they would be interested in human structures but prefer crumbling ruins to sleek constructions of metal and glass which just leaves them cold. Finally, being accomplished dancers themselves, squirrels are culture vultures. So these will be the magic places mentioned in this series of Squirrel's Secret Spots.

Spot No: 1 is a place of my youth. I had marked the passing of my 21st birthday (many years ago now), by embarking on a voyage of discovery and self-discovery. A rite of passage, a journey to find myself, a spreading of wings, a precious memory of a month of tramping through Europe with a Karrimore Backpack and an Inter-Rail card. It was on this journey that I stumbled across this jewel.

Plitvice Lakes is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Croatia. At the time when I was there, it was still part of the independent minded communist state of Yugoslavia. It is a place of exceptional natural beauty and again at the time of my visit, a place of great tranquility. I suspect the latter has changed with ever increasing number of tourists. Still I would like to believe that you would still be able to have a portion of it for yourself somewhere along the many kilometers of wooden walkways and trails.

The area is basically a karst landscape but is so flooded with water that there are cascades, waterfalls, streams and brooks linking 16 turquoise-blue lakes of crystal clear waters. Everywhere there are deposits of limestone overgrown with moss and dripping with water. The lakes are in two clusters which are the Upper (gornja jezera) and Lower (donja jezera) Lakes. There are places where caves, holes and even tunnels have been carved in the rock. There are places for swimming. It is water, water everywhere and set in the midst of a dense green forest of beech and pine. The wildlife is also plentiful as is the trout, both in the lakes and on the restaurant menus.

I spent only two days and one night there but would like to have spent longer. Even in my short stay, I managed to meet many interesting ordinary Yugoslavs. The place where I stayed was actually a home owned by a Dutch woman who had lived in Indonesia but then moved to Yugoslavia because she liked the life and the people there. I was also quite impressed by the close bonds between the Christian and Muslim communities which was especially evident in the countryside where they lived side by side in mutual support and respect. In my journeys, I also encountered dissidents who were upset about how the country was run but again I was surprised when not one of them would speak bad about President Tito. To them, Tito had brought unity, peace and stability....... it was the other idiots in government that were messing things up.

It was therefore with great dismay that I witnessed through the media the breakup of Yugoslavia with its attendant wars and ethnic clashes. It seems to me that the other idiots had indeed messed things up. I feel sad for all the atrocities and animosity that had risen from such a peaceful land and pray for healing for all. Plitvice was not spared the horrors and in fact the first casualty of war in Croatia was Josip Jovic, who was a Plitvice Lakes Park Police Officer. One hopes, that its tranquility and beauty will today help heal battered psyche and banish the horrors of war forever.

(Plitvice Lakes, Croatia = 8* rating out of 10) Posted by Picasa


...Kat said...

move over Iguazo Falls

perhaps this is more beautiful...it certainly looks intimate

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