Saturday 2nd June
Serbia it seems is sunny in the mornings and stormy in the afternoons, the weather wasn’t the only thunderous atmosphere around Pogo today though, our lack of data and wi-fi connectivity is so frustrating as we want to be up to date with the blog, (our monthly UK contact with O2 for me and Tesco O2 for Dave doesn’t include Montenegro or Serbia) it’s making it a chore rather than a pleasure, to make things worse we haven’t yet been able to pick up a decent Serbian map, we feel like Aliens, we’ve not found an ATM so have no Serbian money, we can’t find our way, can’t speak the language and cannot communicate electronically, we’ve not had this experience so far. Driving into the local town after taking advice from a young lady in the nearby hotel in Nova Varos, we find a cash point, I couldn’t find anywhere for a data SIM so I went into the betting shop, I bet they know! pun intended, luckily I found a nice man who spoke reasonable English and he took me to a little kiosk, sign language and a few muttered words got me a €3 sim, that’s cheap? It has 1GB data and voice calls.
The lady in the hotel had also arranged a boat tour for us after calling her friend who does the tours on the Uzac river, boat, cave and view-point €15, pay when you arrive.
Uzac river formerly known as river Zlatibor is a natural border between Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina, today we will be on part of the river known as the Meanders, which resemble a maze with turns of 270 degrees, part of a special nature reserve home to several noticeable species of birds including Osprey, Owl, Griffon Vulture, this bird is featured on many Serbian coats of arms with a wingspan over 10ft, they were facing extinction as recently as 20 years ago, now they are thriving in this valley thanks in large parts to conservation groups that have set up “outdoor restaurants” for the scavengers.
Tried to find a map at the garage but no joy but we did get the young girl (only the youngsters speak some English) to help us with the SIM as we had put it in but no joy! We can’t read the instructions and we can’t do google translate as we’ve no SIM!!!! She calls the number on the package and tells us we have to add credit, oh that’s why it was cheap? It was just the SIM card itself I bought, she adds €10 or 1,170 Dinar for us and says it should work now.
Without a map and on a road that Sat Naff doesn’t recognise Dave finds his way to the boat jetty remembering what the hotel lady told him and a bit of guess-work. We have 45 mins to spare so let’s do some research on Serbia, no, that’s not going to happen because the SIM isn’t working still whaaaaat!
At the boat jetty I asked if we could park for the night as we will be late getting back, he points to a rocky outcrop and indicates yes, over there is ok, oh good we need a few free nights, however Pogo needs to climb a high kerb, no worries, Dave, aka Emmsy has some pieces of wood tucked behind the ladders which he’s lugged all around Europe for just such a moment, I rest my case m’lord.
The boat ride up the Uvac river was slow and peaceful being just a little boat, our companions for the day were a young mum and her 2 boys , the boys were lovely and really wanted to practice their English and we were willing pupils, Bogden the eldest aged 11 was wearing a cap with the logo and name of Novak Djokovic the Serbian tennis player, I love to watch the tennis and I told him that I really like Novak, which is true, next thing he offers me his cap as a gift, neither he nor his mother would take no for an answer and not wanting to offend I accepted it, she says he has many, many caps, Dave later found a little torch in his bag which he gave him in return.
Dave was really excited when we saw lots of Griffon Vultures literally circling a rocky area around our heads, these birds do not hunt or kill, they eat dead meat, a sort of birdy recycling.
We stopped at some ice caves, pitch black inside and we noted that another tour group were given torches but not us, the stalagmites and stalactites were very good, there was no pathway or artificial strategically placed lights, the only light was the other occupants torches and the Tour Guides big bright torch, we saw some unusual and a bit spooky looking shapes on the walls created by the mineral droppings. The cave was very natural and spooky, we went far, far deep inside, a bit too far for me, and they won’t put lights in because of the bat population inside, ooh so that’s what I’m slipping on? Bat droppings?
Back in the boat and further up the river we are directed off and the boat guy points to a path and says 1hr up there, view-point! I was a little put out that he wasn’t coming with us but off we set with Bogden, his brother and mum and grandma, 25 mins later after climbing on soft slippy red earth intermingled with both very smooth and jagged rocks, I stopped and looked at Bogdens mum, she said she’s had enough and her uncertainty was all the excuse we needed, it looks like a storm is on the way and those smooth rocks may be treacherous on the way down, we have seen some nice views and although we won’t get the best one we are not bothered, we don’t have to do everything.
Boat man spots us descending and he looks happy, early tea for him, that’s’ dinner to any UK southerners reading this, back at Pogo rocky resting place it’s bacon and egg butties for tea, that is sandwiches in southern speak! I love my southern family members really, lol!
Our evening gets underway with the most impressive thunderstorm, there is no light pollution apart from a couple of small lights over the dam, the lightning strikes were unlike anything we have ever experienced in the UK or abroad before, we were in a sort of horse shoe basin and the strikes were all around us rather than in one spot, strobes blinding us temporarily as we hopped from one Pogo window to the next exclaiming with each strike and it wasn’t oohs and aaahs! mighty thunderous claps making us shudder with fright, what a wonderous show of nature.
Cathy x x