Two weeks ago I got an invitation to go to Sutjeska national park. I knew a part of the White trail was being marked again, but had no idea how that would be done. In the car on the way to Tjentište it turned out no one really knew what the idea was other than helping out with marking the trail. At the car park of hotel Mladost a whole group of people gathered. No one knew exactly what they were supposed to do, but they were all very excited. And patiently waiting for instructions. Polako polako.

Before I wrote a blog about goings in Sarajevo. Now, more than a week later, I realize that my goings are continually influenced by the way things are going here. The things I do and the things I want to do are dependent on other people, on transportation, the weather and money but also on the internet, websites, providers and WordPress. Today a sense of helplessness came over me, a feeling of not being in control and feeling like not being able to move forward. Funny enough, that feeling can change in a heartbeat when I see the charm of setbacks and the fun of the unexpected.

Sutjeska is waiting

Polako polako

Being flexible, letting go and not overthinking things, “Polako polako”  is what I hear all day. I’m not sure if that is meant especially for me, because I’m not very polako polako, or if this is something people just say. Take it easy, just wait and see, no worries, it will be okay. No rush and no stress. I’m having some difficulty getting used to this taking it easy and just wait and see, but I think it can be quite good for me. Now and then a little confronting because I feel quite self-conscious and uncomfortable while waiting and seeing what will happen.

Of course, there is a downside to all this waiting. A lot of time passes and not much is accomplished. That can be frustrating for those who are trying their best to get things going. As an outsider it is a funny process to watch, but then again, it’s not my things that need to get going.

Polako polako, that's how you mark a trail
The new signposts to Suha

A jeep ride

Quite suddenly we were separated into three groups because we needed to get up the mountain in jeeps. Marking trails is done from high to low, which is quite logical when you think of all the paint, tools and marking materials that are needed. Together with Maggie and Džana we were in the back seat giggling and laughing like teenagers. This is a phenomenon that seems to happen automatically when men start to behave very manly (which is driving a jeep up a steep mountain or handling tools), girls start to behave girly. Haha, it was a bumpy ride full of laughter.

When we arrived at the top we had another interesting car park scene. Gathering people went a bit faster, since we were spread over three jeeps. The challenge was in gathering and taking inventory of all the materials. We realized that we had more stuff than people to carry them. So what to do? There were people, tools and paint, but how does this come together in marking a trail? Fortunately, Lorenc took charge and organized that all the men carried tools and equipment and all the women a can of paint. Clearly everyone had his or her own part to play in this mission.

Polako, polako | How? #bumpy jeepride
Girls in the car

What is the mission?

But what was this mission? In a long column we descended to the Donje Bare lake which the White trail passes. The men were in the front hacking, clipping and chopping, making the way clear for the women who were marking. Bringing up the rear was the clean-up crew to make sure no one was left behind. Lorenc was running around giving orders and helping out here and there. All in all a quite simple system. The only disadvantage for the impatient ones among us was having to wait on the slow.

I think it took me a whole day to realize that there actually was no one who had a complete overview or ultimate responsibility. Everyone was doing his or her task and meddled where necessary in other people’s doings, but the big picture wasn’t clear to anyone. For me, this results in a situation that I have no control over. A situation that I think can be much more efficient. But would that make it better? Or more fun? The best solution for me is just to surrender to whatever is happening and enjoy actually being there.

Prijevor parking at Perucica, Sutjeska NP - Bosnia & Herzegovina
Almost ready

Bears on the road

Gradually I began to see the logic behind the trail marks, how they are placed and how they should be interpreted. I have hiked an amazingly beautiful and wild part of the White trail and I’m very happy that I get to do that again. My fear for bears and wolves has decreased, not because “it’s not that bad and you never run into them anyway” but because they are literally hiding left and right of the trails. Fresh bear poop in the middle of the path proves that they are close, but run away whenever they see, hear or smell people. To me this is comforting. As long as these creatures have nothing to fear from me, I don’t have to be afraid of them.

I felt very honoured to be passing through this piece of wild nature. We were guests in Sutjeska National Park.

The forest allowed us to be there with all our disorganized good intentions, but also made clear that nature is, and hopefully will stay in charge there.

Polako polako, trailmarking in Sutjeska NP
We’re working on it
That's how you mark a trail


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