I love to go back to places where I’ve already been. Mostly to visit people. Like Gaga in Buna who I met a year ago during my cycling trip from Amsterdam to Cetinje. His lovely campsite at the Buna river and his optimistic way of looking at things, his stories and jokes, made me revisit the cute little town close to Mostar.

“I have no idea when, but probably somewhere in July”, I told him. “I’ll be in Mostar tomorrow” was the next message. “Change of plans, I go up Prenj first, see you in four days.” And then my plans changed again, so I texted him when I arrived at the bus station in Mostar. ˝Haha, I’m back!˝

At his place I had another package waiting for me. New maps, prints, breakfast mix and ingredients for “dadelballen” – a fantastic snack for on the trail. Even though I fill the boxes myself, it’s exciting to open them, time after time. Ha, another notebook! And I forgot that I also had sent the plasticized Velebit maps I got from the Polish VD hiker I met in Montenegro. Knin would have been more convenient, but well let’s not complain about the weight of my backpack any more.

Gaga is the perfect host. During the day he has got his own things to do, which gives me space to do mine. In the evening, when the temperature is better to handle, he invites me for the fun stuff. Visit the Mostars old town, hang out with his friends and meeting other camping guests who came back to see Gaga again. It’s good to be here. To be back.

At the same time the craziness of the past few days is suddenly getting to me. Now I have nothing else to do than rest, I feel restless. I don’t know what I want, I might never know. I’m texting with my friends from Amsterdam. Calling them even. What is it I feel? I don’t know. I might never know.

“I don’t know where I’m going and I can hardly see the path, but I’m on my way.”

In the meantime I plug in my earphones and turn on an audiobook. With my feet in the cold river, I sit and listen. Disappear in a world which is not mine. In a story which is not mine.

Until the church bells tell me what time it is. Time to go back. Back to a place I in fact never left.

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Hiking & Biking the Balkans

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