On Mount Ćurevac I had been completely engulfed by fog. It was still bitterly cold. From the surrounding forests of Montenegro the dogs, wolves and bears were barking. The days in October are short. Daylight might last just long enough for the descent into Tara Canyon, 1,300 meters (4,260 feet) deep, but never for the steep climb back up.
Thus I set out to walk back to Žabljak, straight through the forest. The map showed a hamlet called Bosača. Maybe I could get a cup of tea there or warm up my hands. After not having encountered any human being the whole day, it would also be nice to exchange a few words with a farmer, a shepherd or a lumberjack.
To anticipate the outcome: Bosača was the wrong place for a friendly chat next to a warm stove. No sound came from the village. I saw not a single car, no light, no human being. The spooky thing was that I didn’t even see colors. Everything was gray, dark, foggy. Dead, in a way.
Some of the houses stood several hundred yards apart, with barren meadows and remains of wooden and barbed-wire fences between the plots of land.
There, a few cows on top of the hill! At least something is alive.
In any other Balkan mountain village, you are surrounded by dogs. Here I neither hear nor see a single one. No bird sings, chirps or flies. The only sound comes from the wind.
Does anyone actually live here? Most of the houses don’t look like it.
On the other hand, there are still power lines going to some of the houses.
Halfway through the settlement, I see the first sign of human life: a fire, already mostly extinguished, but still emitting smoke across the path I have to take.
I look around to find the fire’s creator and keeper. No one to see. But now I can hear something. Chop. Silence. Chop. Silence. Chop. Somebody is cutting wood, but he is hidden behind one of the houses. The echo in the valley makes it impossible to determine from which direction it comes.
A lonely man with an ax in a village that looks as if only once every few years a stranger is passing through – who in this particular case doesn’t even speak Serbian/Montenegrin – is not the kind of human contact I am longing for right now. I proceed with a fast pace, trying to make as little sound as possible.
Only once I have reached the forest, I dare to look back. Checking my watch, I notice that today is 31 October. Halloween. This village in Montenegro doesn’t need any hollowed-out pumpkin faces to make you shudder.
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