I have become infrequent in my updates because every day I see beauty and I witness aspects of this place that impress me. I don't think you want to read yet another admiring post and so I wait for something to happen that will add drama to my reports. So far (and I am sure you will be pleased to hear this) so far there has been no drama. My beloved dog is happy and every day I feel like I'm in a commercial for spring water.
Today I was wondering why this place feels like a world invented by a fantasy writer. It is not what I am used to and not what I ever suspected. The people really are polite and friendly, caring and thoughtful. Everything is clean and everything works. The only graffiti I have seen is on a bridge near a camp ground -- a few words scrawled by outsiders who arrived, scrawled, and moved on. I was wondering why England isn't like this, or Greece or the part of America that I lived in. I looked for a way of describing it, and then I found it. I found it today in the middle of nowhere. Respect.
A mile or so from Frank's house, if you go a little farther along a road I've walked many times, you find a gate and an electrified fence. The track beyond heads toward the mountains to the south and eventually you get to a path marked as the way to the summit of chrna prst (1846 metres high, if you're interested). This morning was the first time I'd gone down that track and I was excited to find a way to an actual summit. Tyson and I explored the path up for a little way, then returned to tackle it when we are more prepared. Returning we came upon a cemetery (pictured). It is a First World War grave site, immaculately maintained, clean, and surrounded by nothing but fields and forest. That's what hit me. So long after the event, the graves look new. These people care, without expecting anyone to notice. They have enormous amounts of respect for almost everything relating to their past and their present.
It put the whole town into perspective, this notion of respect. It is clean because the Slovenian people respect each other and their possessions. Crime in Bohinjska Bistrica is virtually nil (I say virtually because you simply wouldn't believe me if I said it WAS nil). Young people are happy to mingle with the elderly. The children say hello. There is a lack of drama that makes blog posts a serious challenge.
One more thing added to today's crystallizing notion of respect. I have noticed, during my travels, that most of the houses in this older part of town have terracotta-coloured plaques on the walls sporting two unintelligible Slovenian words. They aren't the street name and don't appear to be house names. I couldn't work them out. I asked Frank today and I was surprised by how surprising the answer was. They are the names of the people who first lived in the house. If, for instance, the first occupier of the house was Mr Jenkins 200 years ago, the plaque would say The House of Mr Jenkins! These perfectly new plaques commemorate the first inhabitants of the house and that kind of reverence for the past, for someone's memory, for who came first, these things sent a tingle down my spine. In this country, respect is something that guides every facet of daily life.
I wondered if the mountains are responsible. One has to respect such terrain and maybe that filters into the community spirit. I don't know. All I do know is that I find it extremely admirable.
Slovenia, writing, other things