Maggie is a girl I met in Sarajevo during the Via Dinarica Networking Conference. On her blog Backroad Balkans she writes about her eclectic adventures in the Dinaric Alps of the Balkan region, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina where she currently lives, as well as the other travelling she occasionally does. She explores all aspects of nature and culture including local food and drink, and shares fun facts about the history and ecology of it all. This is her contribution, her thoughts on “What moves you?”
The Via Dinarica and Me
Recently, a fellow Via Dinarica blogger @EVAdinarica posed the question “what moves you,” and it’s been on my mind ever since. We like it because it can be interpreted in so many ways, from what drives you to physically move your body or change geography, to what moves you emotionally, inspiring and motivating your spirit. Sometimes, there may even be a chance for the physical and emotional movement to come together into one perfect balance… such as on the Via Dinarica trail.
The Via Dinarica is more than a trail, actually. It is a movement itself, an initiative to build partnership between nations in a region that is divided but shares exquisite cultural and natural heritage – the Eastern European states of Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia – under the slogan “connecting naturally.” The Dinaric Alps mountain range rises steadily across these borders, in an exquisite diversity of extraordinary landscapes and eco-systems. The Via Dinarica project began as an effort to preserve and protect this nature and the indigenous mountain communities that reside in the Dinaric Alps, and has since grown to be a leading actor in developing community-based, sustainable tourism that enables adventurers around the world to explore the last true wilderness frontier in Europe.
The idea of the VD originated in “the Heart of the Balkans,” the gorgeous country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), where I am currently located. Here, the VD has particular import as an exciting opportunity to reshape the narrative that often introduces tourists to this country. Instead of a story that tends to focus on the 1992-1995 war that occurred here, we want to highlight Bosnia’s cultural heritage and natural beauty, and support indigenous communities and local businesses.
What moves me?
I’m 23, and I’ve changed locations more times than I care to count. I can’t even remember my first move from Kwangju, South Korea, where I was born, to Warsaw, Poland about a year later. When I was a kid, what “moved me” in this way was my mom’s job in the foreign service, but since high school I’ve taken control of my own journey, and gone even further.
One thing about this lifestyle is that it’s left me without a home base, a place where my roots are dug deeply and where I have memories of growing up and can return to revisit those moments as I grow older. I struggle to answer the question “where are you from” and sometimes I feel like nothing more than a passer-by in life, someone that no one really, truly got to know. Other times it makes me feel so free – “I’m from Earth! A true citizen of the world!” – and I’ve claimed to not be tied down to any place.
But we are all tied down to Earth, and having been denied a place in the normal sense, my desire to feel like I’m part of the whole world is what gets me out there, seeking connection, hungry for the tastes, smells and sounds that makes each new place feel real and part of me, and me a part of it.