Picture rugged mountain peaks cuddled by thick beech forests, and eagles circling far above in the sky, while creeks and rivulets meander through deep canyons, and you will get my childhood daily routine view. My parents used to chuck me and my sister at my grandfather’s house during school holidays in August. Far from the city buzz, with no TV, let alone wi-fi connection, far from fast food stands and shopping – far from civilization, in short.
And I was mesmerized by this wilderness, its purity, and diversity. We kids would collect berries in the forest during our walks including my faithful dog Jackie (liberated from the chain on day 1 of our arrival) that would bark at anything that moves – from a chaffinch to a bear. Breakfast was home-made and served out of our own free range: eggs, cheese, and skorup (AKA kajmak in other parts of the Balkans, a delish made of freshly skimmed milk) and steaming hot bread right out of the kitchen stove… all resulting from the hard working auntie’s hands. She could whip fresh cream out of an egg white in 12 seconds and serve it with forest strawberries. From time to time, the road in front of the house would get dusty from a bunch of motorcyclists with international plates. During summer nights, we would still cover ourselves with winter blankets, as thick stone walls provided shelter and freshness only too well.
This was years back. Some things are still the way they used to be: I know that the creek next to our house is one of those that create the beautiful Tara river and the world famous UNESCO listed Tara Canyon. I know that these woods belong to one of the last remaining virgin forests in Europe, Biogradska gora. When I was 9 I fell in love with a simple thing: sun rays through the trees of this ancient forest. Today I know that this simple phenomenon is scientifically called Crepuscular rays. Today I know that the taste of our prosciutto or pršut (/prshut/) outmatches the Italian and Spanish ones. There are changes, too – today, the roads are no longer dusty – the tarmac is there, and they are busier. One of the largest construction and engineering projects in Europe – CRBC Beijing is engaged here, to provide easy access to places where silence is still to be found – to admire the intact mountains, meadows, and creeks. If you are here for a short stay, do not miss to taste kačamak (/kachamak/ – nota bene: we will dedicate an article or more only to the cuisine of the North of Montenegro), if you are to stay for a few days, experience the hospitality of local shepherds, go for a hike, horseback ride, white water rafting, electric quad ride… enjoy the simplicity of life.
As for its majesty, the beautiful mother Nature, polish up your cameras, and spread the word!