It’s Planica weekend in Slovenia, the biggest ski-jumping event of the season. Maybe that’s why my thoughts are jumping so much. Bear with me, there is a bottom-line. Not pretty, but it’s there.
I feel all productive all of a sudden. I’ve organised my blog menu. See, up on the right? Many new items with subcategories, all pretty and comprehensive, informative and inviting, tempting you to read and view. Right? Even if not so very much, it made me feel good doing it.
For example, if you wish to see at a glance all those funky posts of mine, in which I gather twenty images on the given subject (or my loose interpretation of it), they are hiding under Fun compilation posts in “Own photos”. They are my favourites.
And for those who wish to read what I write when I have my writing socks on (as The Snow Melts Somewhere says), there are the Non-fiction section and Burning topics under “Own words”. I feel better now that I found this term for what I do. Non-fiction. Sounds serious and vaguely threatening.
I have also added the section “About my places” so that everybody can quickly see my territories.
Right now I feel the attack of another story that I only wish was fiction. But before I write it, here is the last week on my blog. I was quite busy again. There were:
- One of the fun compilations I just talked about: images taken from various tops across my many territories;
- Sunday, and I’ll try to keep it quiet on Sundays, with one image and no words;
- the first part of our visit to the bird sanctuary Škocjanski zatok in Slovenia;
- the first day of spring, World Poetry Day, and some dramatic donkey photos;
- a dragon post I’m not sure anybody reads to the end: photos from Ljubljana boat trip followed by a man who thinks he’s funny (I agree but I guess many don’t, or it’s just that the translation sucks);
- Thursday and its doors, this time from Rome by night;
- and yesterday there was another fun green doggy post on the anniversary of finding our first dog in the trash.
And now, welcome to Planica.
Planica is on everybody’s lips this weekend. Commercials show children dreaming to visit it one day. It is the ski-flying paradise where only true eagles dare to jump. And the grand season finale is happening this weekend.
First, we need a warm-up.
It happened elsewhere in Slovenia but this is Planica soundtrack too. Apparently 1137 accordionists broke the Guinness World Record this way. Beware the change from the gentle Lojze Slak waltz to the brutal Avsenik polka half way.
Planica is about an hour from Ljubljana, tucked away in the last corner of Slovenia, with Italy to the left and Austria on top. Which means that everybody comes on the weekend when “they are jumping” as amore said, slightly astonished at why anybody would do something like that.
But what follows happened ages ago when I was still firmly there. I woke up at around 4 am that day to get ready, and then we walked to the nearest bypass exit to wait for our ride. When the 20-seat minibus arrived and I crossed its threshold, it was like entering the nation at its thickest.
But first, a few fun facts. The bus came from the region of Dolenjska, Lower Carniola, the southern part of Slovenia, famous for their wine cviček with low alcohol content but high acidity.
They say that its most famous user, Dolenjska-native Martin Strel, who swam the Danube, the Mississippi and the Amazon, drinks nothing but it. The start of his biopic entitled Big River Man shows him driving his car and explaining that he liked multitasking: at that moment he was driving, learning English from the tape, and was drunk.
I’m not sure if this was before or after, but my only sailing holiday I did with guys from this region too. (I checked, Planica was at least five years before the trip. Today just a few photos from it, more in a future post.) It lasted a week but we only attempted sailing twice, all the rest was motoring. Not on account of the weather either. You need both hands for sailing, and one was always around a beer can, that’s why.
Mine too, I’m a proud daughter of my nation.
And yet as the only female on board with eight guys it was tricky to keep up. The first thing I did upon embarking was to throw my cards on the table (all of Slovenia knows how to play tarock) and challenge them to determine who will be the one to do the dishes. Far be it from me.
You need to know all this before I enter that bus.
And even though I knew it and was prepared, it still hit me: the blue bloodshed eyes, the stench, the lost yet piercing stares. All male, all far gone. And that second tune from above at full blast.
Then hands started to come out with flasks on offer. No, not offering, demanding to be had.
Suffice to say, it was a long day. Even though I refused all the flasks (probably I was on separation diet), I don’t remember any jumps, winners, records, just the little things, for example how some visitors brought barbecue grills from home. It was not too cold, this was important, even though on return the police stopped all the busses on the main road and we had to hike over a field filled with fresh deep snow to reach it.
And once we found our bus and settled in, it refused to move for the longest time. I thought it was the traffic and crowds, but no, it appeared we had lost a member. After some investigation the driver called his mobile phone. The man was apparently hungry and went for a meal in an osteria in a town not so very close. The driver had no option but to go over there and pick him up. So we did.
But the most memorable thing happened upon arrival. I still remember how it made me feel. Never before I felt as clearly that this was neither the place, country nor community where I was supposed to live. We just arrived and were still on the bus as it was taking us as close to the venue as possible. There were many people walking on both sides of the bus. At one moment we came side by side with a guy, a boy really, walking quite serenely on his own, and yet he elicited a grunt from one guy on our bus and a mocking hiss from another.
Just because he was a little dreadlocked Rasta man.
A shiver ran down my back and I wanted to scream. I wished to put a mirror before all these men, so that they could see their eyes, full of fears that no amounts of alcohol would ever quench.
I wondered how I found myself on their side and what I can do to change that. And in time, I did.
This was at least 15 years ago. Plenty has happened in the meantime. Such stance can be seen escalating. And yet, if all those who hate it as much as I do keep moving out of the country, nothing is bound to change.
Here are some revealing photos from that sailing trip. I’ve just realised that it happened in October 2007, ten years ago, just like the things I wrote about yesterday: my first digital camera, the Canon that took these photos, was brand new, and only one month after this trip I stopped smoking. Forever. I wonder why. (Click on the first photo and follow the captions.)
Photo: © signature mmm (+ 3 of me by MP)