Driving up steep twisting mountain roads in the black of the night. At the biggest incline the van suddenly looses power, and the smell of burning fills the cabin. It was 2 am so we decided to sleep for a night and face the difficult situation we have found ourselves in the next morning.
An old friend of mine, Katarina, had been following Focallocal and when she read I was nearby she asked if she could join the road trip. Our problems began by the most beautiful river imaginable, called Soca river, in the scenic mountain surroundings of Bovec, North-Western Slovenia. We were camping and have accidentally left a light on in the back of the van and next morning the van wouldn’t start because the battery was flat. This minor inconvenience opened up the marvellous opportunity to experience the hospitable and warmly welcoming Slovenian culture and it started when we walked to the nearest building to ask for help, and met Ana.
Ana is a kind, generous and friendly young girl, who loves being around animals, including her two well-trained dogs, 11 or 12 cats, 10 pigs and her goat. She lives in a idyllic house in the mountainous valleys, surrounded by a luscious, green paradise. Her family runs a touristic farm and guesthouse for more than 30 years.
The jump cables from her car didn’t start our big van, but luckily her family had a battery charger put our battery on for couple of hours, during which we explained the idea of Focallocal (all the colourful and cheerful art work our community have painted on the van invited questions), they loved what we were doing and enthusiastically welcomed us into their home to show us around their lives.
Ana gave us authentic traditional cheese her family had made from their own sheep, and wrote a beautiful, and very appropriate for Focallocal, Slovenian Poem on the side of the van:
You exist in this world to stare (or look) at the sun. You exist in this world to follow the sun. You exist to represent the sun and to chase away the shadows from this World.
We left very grateful that life had led us into such a wonderful experience with the guidance of a flat battery. The mountains weren’t finished bringing us adventures just yet. After we returned briefly to Bovec to collect more waste cooking oil (WVO) as fuel for our van and continue our free, eco-friendly roadtrip and then turned back to drive over the mountains again.
In Bovec I collected some beautifully clean Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) from a local hotel (hardly needed any filtering at all), leaving just as it began to get dark to drive back into the cold, Slovenian/Italian Alps – destined to defeat us for a second time, much more dramatically this time.
See part for more Slovenian culture, along with more ups, and more downs than we expected.
Also published on Medium.