Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

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Michael J Spraggon
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Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:32 am

Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by Michael J Spraggon » Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:11 am

Dear NTS boarders,

Here is the final part of our journey through the former Yugoslavia. It is the longest installment, covering 4 days and 3 countries, taking in the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park along the way.

It's been a real pleasure writing about our trip each week and having to get each part done by Saturday has finally given me the kick in the pants needed to get it done! I hope I have provided a good backdrop to the technical reports so expertly written by Jeroen and Kouta. At the very least I have made contact with you guys at NTS - something Patty Jenkins at TCI has been on at me to do for a long time!

Anyway here it is - Part 7:

Michael
Balkans 2012 Travelogue Part 7.docx
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Balkans Tree Expedition, Part 7

Day 13 Tjentište to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

After our final breakfast at Hotel Mladost, we settle up with cash as the card readers don’t work. I just have enough but am now completely out of Euros and Bosnian Marka and the next cash machine on our cross country route will be in Croatia. As we say goodbye to the staff I say to my fellow tennis fan that I expect Djokovic to win in the final. He graciously (or is it sarcasm?) says the ‘small Serb’ will be beaten by ‘Mighty Murray’.

The road out of Tjentište passes through a gorge with the high mountains of the Dinaric Alps on the left lit up by the morning sun. I want to stop to take a photograph so we pull over in a layby where a young woman and an old man are standing beside their rucksacks, waiting for a bus. As we approach them it is clear that the old man is actually seriously fit and lean – all skin and muscle. The girl, Ivana, tells us that he is Tomica Debilašić, probably the most renowned mountain guide in Serbia. They have just come down after climbing to the summit of Maglić to mark the anniversary of Vidovdan. Ivana is new to mountaineering but what better way to start than with a challenging peak like Maglić with one of the best guides there is.
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A chance meeting with mountaineer Tomica Debilašić (right) and Ivana (left).

After a while the landscape opens out and the road climbs and winds its way up until we reach an enormous new viaduct, which we start driving along until the driver of an aggregate lorry coming the opposite way tells us that the viaduct is not yet finished and we should have driven down the road to the left, thereby avoiding an unpleasant surprise further on.

The next part of the journey is uneventful as we head south again over the mountains and cross back into Croatia. As we descend from a mountain pass, a town called Gacko comes into view, situated on the edge of a vast flood plain. The focal point of the town is a cement works with a red and white chequered cooling tower. Far away on the opposite side of the flood plain the hills are being quarried for limestone. As we drive through the town, the road there are several memorials to men who have died in the War of Independence – more than in other similar sized towns we have driven through.

The road climbs over the mountains and eventually drops down to the Adriatic Coast. The next part of our journey is the reverse of our drive along the coast road 8 days ago. There’s Dubrovnik and another luxury cruise liner coming in to dock. We pass the pretty harbour with the seafood restaurant where we paddled in the water beside our table. I want to go swimming but there’s no time of course. We do however take a few minutes to stop at Trsteno again and take another look at the incredible Oriental Plane trees. I have the photo sets from last week’s climb safely in my pack.

Another thing that is the same as last week is the heat on the coast: approaching 100F (38°) – if anything slightly hotter than last week. Soon we cross the border into Bosnia again and continue past the town of Neum, which stretches along the 15 miles of the country’s only Adriatic coastline. This combined with lower prices than Croatia has made Neum an exceptionally popular tourist destination with the hillsides densely packed with hotels and guesthouses. In fact there are over 5000 tourist beds – more than the population of Neum itself.

Minutes later we are back in Croatia and driving further along the coast road than last week. The road is actually the E65, which at 4400km is one of the longest roads in Europe, starting in Greece. If we were to stay on this road until its end we would cross the Baltic (on a ferry, which stretches the definition of a road somewhat) and continue in Sweden to the town of Malmö. Stopping for lunch we get out of our air conditioned car and, shocked by the heat, open the sliding door of the air conditioned conservatory of Restaurant Merlot. The proprietor tells us to close the door again – quickly!

The E65 goes further inland and becomes also known as the A1, bypassing the large ports of Split and Sibenik, before turning northwards near the Velebit mountains.

It is evening by the time we arrive at Plitvice Lakes National Park. We (and especially Kouta who has done all of the driving on this trip) are tired and beginning to argue about where to stay tonight. Having passed by several pansions advertising ‘Zimmer frei’ for the predominantly German-speaking tourists here, we end up at the entrance to the park itself. Jeroen asks about the cost of rooms at the hotel. It is much more than we are willing to pay so we drive back along the road and find a small pansion with a little girl of about 2 years old playing in the garden. Her mother comes out to greet us and show us around. Her name is Milica.

Kouta and I have the room in the back and we talk to Milica as she makes up the beds. She worked in Italy for most of the 18 years since the war, then in Germany in a high powered marketing executive job. However since meeting her Serbian husband and having their daughter, they decided to take over the running of the guesthouse from her mother-in-law last year. She describes the house back then as ‘old-style’ and says that they spent the first year renovating it.

Like so many of the people we have met on our trip Milica has personal stories about the war. Her sister worked in a military hospital in Belgrade and was lucky to escape when it was bombed by NATO. She says that the fighting here was also very bad and until 6 or 7 years ago there still was no tourism and hence no jobs or money but things are slowly picking up now. Milica tells me there is a ski centre here and despite my disbelief that it could ever get cold enough to snow, she says it is very beautiful in winter but there are still very few tourists coming here for winter sports.

Jeroen and I are hungry so we decide to walk 2 miles back down the road to the National Park entrance. The light is fading and the footpath runs out. It’s going to be difficult to avoid the cars and lorries on the way back but hunger wins out. The cafeteria is still open and we take our trays and are served by a large jolly woman with a ladle. It’s a bit cooler outside. As we eat we have a high-brow conversation about postmodernist music while at the other end of the terrace a very drunk man is singing traditional folk music, ‘almost’ in tune but definitely from the heart.

Our walk back is as treacherous as expected. We use our phones as lights but in places we can’t walk behind the crash barrier as the ground drops away steeply into deep pits which were obviously excavated to build the road. In the trees there are hundreds of fireflies, their green abdomens pulsating in unison like a silent disco.

Day 14 Plitvice Lakes to Ljubljana.

The next morning Milica lays on a big breakfast on the balcony and sends us on our way with packed lunches she has made for us, free of charge. Today will be another long day: by this evening we will be in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where we first rendezvoused at the start of this trip, but this morning we will visit the world famous Plitvice Lakes.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 1,200,000 visitors each year. Like a set from a fantasy film, it is an almost unbelievably beautiful cascade of 16 turquoise lakes and waterfalls, descending 133m (436ft) over a distance of 8km (5 miles). It is the result of the action of water on soluble rock and is fed by many small rivers and karst systems: subterranean water courses formed by layers of limestone being dissolved over millions of years.
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One of the waterfalls of the Upper Lakes.

Our original plans to explore the Čorkova Uvala reserve in the northwestern end of the park where there are reported to be exceptionally old spruce and fir of up to 550 years, are derailed before we even begin. We didn’t receive any response from the park to our requests before the trip and despite the best efforts of the man at the ticket office we are not able to obtain a guide at such short notice. We consider going there surreptitiously without a guide but there is a slight risk of landmines in the reserve and a sense of self-preservation prevails.

By the edge of a stream I see a snake in the water, similar to a four-lined snake but much smaller. It doesn’t seem to mind me holding my camera right up to it and taking a picture. On a wooded bank by the path there is a collection of small wooden signs on stakes, each with a picture in a red circle with a line through it telling visitors what they aren’t allowed to do: NO swimming, NO campfires, NO fishing, NO dogs off leads, NO plucking of leaves, and what looks like: NO dancing. We take a road train up a winding road to the top lake, Prošćansko Jezero, the second largest lake in the cascade, where we disembark and begin our walk down.

Jeroen is trying to work out how many nationalities there are here today based on how many languages he has heard. Certainly people from much of Europe, America, India and the Far East are here today. A large proportion of the visitors making their way down with us are young couples in their teens and twenties and I can hardly imagine a more romantic place. This feeling is not inspired between the three of us and we drift apart: I begin to pull ahead and then stop in a wooded area to record the lively fluttering song of a black-chat, a bird we have heard in many forests in the Balkans.

I wait for the others but they seem to have gone around the other side of one of the lakes and overtaken me. We meet up just before the 25m (82ft) Galovac waterfall. Below this is a boardwalk winding its way between a series of small shallow pools, some with waterfalls. This is the most idyllic part of the cascade and is exactly like one would imagine paradise to be. The water is crystal clear and shoals of small fish sit still, watching the conveyor belt of humans pass by. I feel like throwing my clothes off and slipping into the balmy waters right now, but of course we’re not allowed.
image005.jpg
A scene from many fantasy films – but where’s the bathing beauty?

Back at the lower lakes we take a boat trip to a large picnic area and I mean large. It’s an open area with gift shops and toilet one side and wooden cabins serving grilled and barbequed food on the other. Almost all of the benches in the shade are taken. There are some very loud girls near us, whom Jeroen refers to as the 3 Sisters. I reply that someone will have to measure their heights and girths, but it won’t be me.

Our remaining journey through Croatia is similar to before: small rustic villages, some with houses peppered with bullet holes and occasional standing shells of buildings, juxtaposed with modern apartments and glass walled commercial buildings in the centres of large towns. Over the last land border of the trip, into Slovenia and the landscape and architecture soon becomes more modern and Germanic in style.
image007.jpg
War damaged buildings, Croatia.

It is evening when we finally reach the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. We have accommodation already booked: a guesthouse in a suburb about two miles north of the centre. We haven’t called to announce our arrival but the owner, a short man of about 70, must have been watching for us and comes out to greet us and show us our rooms.

Showered and revitalised, Jeroen and I are standing on the balcony above the narrow, tree-lined street watching the passers-by. Realising we are both bare-chested I imagine them looking at us in a state of half undress on the street and thinking “bloody tourists.” At that moment Kouta appears in his underpants.

Fully dressed, we decide to go for a walk and soon come across Café Miriam on the corner of the next block. It is empty: they have already stopped serving drinks but decide to make an exception for us. The owner, Marian is in his 50’s and looks quite a lot like Tommy Lee Jones as well as having the same laid back manner. He and the waitress, Liliana, decide to join us for a drink. Liliana seems to have started the after work celebrations long beforehand: she is loud, flirtatious and finding innuendo in everything. Marian responds with the brow-beaten smile of a man who has learned to take the rough with the smooth – Lilian is exhausting but there’s no denying that she knows how to charm the customers. She has teenage children at home but seems to be in no hurry to go there.

Day 15: Ljubljana Historic Centre.

Today I say farewell to my two companions Jeroen and Kouta. We’ve only known each other for two weeks but we’ve already packed in a year’s worth of experiences. I pack my valuables into my daypack and J & K give me a lift into the centre of the city on the last leg of our 2500km journey together. By the time they get back to Kouta’s home they will have driven 4100km and Jeroen will still have to travel by train to his home in the Netherlands. I am not flying back until tomorrow so I will be spending today in Ljubljana. J & K drop me off near a tourist information office and we say goodbye. From now on I’m on my own without Jeroen, the seasoned traveller and diplomat, or Kouta with his knowledge of the Serbian languages.

I’m not worried: this is a small, tourist friendly city, and easy to get around. In no time I’ve booked myself onto a city tour and boat trip after lunch and am walking down a side street towards the river on my way to the Castle. I cross the Ljubljanica River on one of three bridges, collectively known as the Triple Bridge. The two side bridges were added in 1932, 90 years after the original stone road bridge was constructed. The waterway is narrow and the high banks are lined with concrete balustrades behind which are the terraces of cafes. It reminds me of Amsterdam. On the opposite bank there is a large cobbled pedestrian area leading to a flower market on one side and the City Hall on the other. Beyond is Ljubljana Castle on top of Castle Hill, now accessible via a funicular railway. I decide to climb the hill instead.
image009.jpg
The Triple Bridge.

I can see the original entrance to the castle: it is a 5-sided tower, which was designed to slow down attackers by making presenting them with a wall as soon as they get through the entrance. I breach the wall via the slightly more welcoming tourist entrance: a gently sloping all-access ramp through a wide arch into a courtyard and decide to join a group tour of the castle. Gordana our guide and I wait for the other tourists to arrive but it soon becomes apparent that I am the only one on this, her last tour of the morning. There is not much I can tell you about the contents of this tour and the walking/boat tour after lunch that you cannot read in travel guides or on Wikipedia so I will skip these details and instead write about my own personal experiences in this short visit.
image011.jpg
The Historic Centre of Ljubljana from the Castle Tower - another aerial shot by a frustrated climber.

After the tour I just have time for a hurried lunch on the upper terrace, which is strangely modern considering it is inside a medieval castle: an area of new stone paving and cafes with glass fronted conservatories. I arrive on the steps of the City Hall, the rendezvous of the next tour with a few minutes to spare. Our guide is a small lady with glasses who ends every sentence with a questioning intonation. She jokingly tells off the teenage daughters of an American couple for not paying attention. The historic centre has cobbled streets and grand marble fountains. Many of the buildings are very ornately decorated in the Venetian style. But elements of the Austro-Hungarian influence can also be seen.

After the boat trip I go into a nearby café on the riverside. Café Lolita has to be the least masculine establishment I have ever been in. Every detail is colour-coded in varying shades of lilac and white. Along the wall are perfectly positioned, highly decorative cushions, lamps in the shape of bunches of giant black cherries hang from the ceiling, which itself is a giant print of a 19th century female model with roses in her hair and a lacework surround. Even the cakes are colour-coded, intricately decorated and arranged in perfect symmetry, as are the confectionary jars and gift boxes on the white shelves on the back wall. The entire room is a finely balanced work of art – more a boutique than a cake shop. The only male member of staff is confined to the ice cream cart outside. Feeling like an untidy blemish in an otherwise pristine scene, and not wishing to upset the aesthetically perfect arrangement of the cakes I settle for a beer.
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Café Lolita: absolutely lovely!

I have given myself two choices of entertainment tonight: Debussy at the Slovenian Philharmonic Hall or a free chanson concert at the Mansion in Tivoli Park. The price and the prospect of hearing something new lead me to choose the latter and I make my way towards the park looking for somewhere to eat and drink on the way. Before long I am distracted by some really interesting avant-garde jazz coming from a fenced off area hidden by trees. I go through a gate and find myself in the Jazz Café, not to be confused with the more famous Jazz Club Gajo. It’s an informal place with drinks served from a wooden hut and music being pumped out from speakers positioned around the tables. The clientele are trendy bohemian types and I fit right in but certainly don’t look the part, wearing the same clothes I wore to climb the Trsteno Plane. The girl serving at the bar wasn’t a musician when she started working here but in her words ‘the music has gotten under her skin’ and she is now learning the guitar and bass and her colleague is learning the double bass.

The sun is setting as I walk up the Jakopič Promenade to the Mansion House. The concert won’t begin for a while so I have a look around the art gallery on the first floor. There are many styles of contemporary 2D art from fantastical surrealism reminding me of Hieronymous Bosch to giant prints of satirical drug labels by Damien Hirst.

The concert is in a small space on the corner of the first floor. About 30 of us sit on chairs arranged diagonally across the room. The singer walks in, a tall thin man with a squint, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He saunters about the performance space and sings unaccompanied for nearly an hour, all in Slovenian but in styles ranging from Slovenian folk, Mongolian throat singing (which is so low it can be felt more than heard), scat singing, and even pop music.

Afterwards I get talking to a young Finnish couple who were sitting beside me and we have a drink on the terrace of the Mansion House. They arrived in Slovenia today and are still getting used to the heat. Christian is an engineer, working on plant equipment for huge diesel engines, ships and buildings; Helga is a biochemist, growing cells on chemical substrates. Somehow they came to be working in the same laboratory in University and fell in love over a Bunsen burner. (I made that last bit up.) They’re going from here to the Julian Alps in the north of the country. Helga introduces me to the modern concept of couch surfing, where you get to know people in foreign countries over the internet and build up a network of acquaintances all over the world so that you will have a friend or even a place to stay if you are ever in their city. I’m not convinced and point out that we’re getting on like friends now without ever having met before.

It’s after 11.00 now and I walk back to the guesthouse through the park. Even at this time of night there are cyclists, joggers and walkers everywhere and I feel quite safe on my own and satisfied that I have made the most of my one day in Ljubljana.

Day 16: Going home.

I am awakened at 08:00 by a text from Kouta telling me that Jeroen is already on the train. I actually think that he is making sure that I’m awake and don’t miss my flight. Kouta only met me two weeks ago and already he knows what I’m like. I decide to keep my level of fitness up and walk with my big rucksack on, carrying bulging day pack in one hand, the two miles to the bus station. It’s a real challenge and I have to stop to change hands more and more frequently as I near the city. It’s not clear where the airport bus is actually parked and I only just catch it after being told by a helpful lady that I’m walking the wrong way.
On the bus I take a last look at this part of the Balkans. The land here is flat and arable: field after field of maize and corn. It’s been a tremendously varied journey: part expedition, part road trip. We’ve been in many climates: sweltering hot, dry Adriatic coasts; lush, humid virgin forests and high alpine pastures. We’ve crossed at least 13 borders, appeared on television, I now part-own the tallest Christmas tree on Earth and, thanks to Jeroen’s slight resemblance to Sting, I’ve reminded myself of how much I liked The Police. This trip has shown me just how large and varied the former Yugoslavia is. I had never been to Yugoslavia before but had heard about it from my German grandparents, who grew up and raised a family there - until the Second World War happened.

I have a couple of hours before check-in so I order a meal and a drink from the café outside the terminal building. Except for the slight doubt over my unusual hand luggage contents getting past security again, everything is completed. Sitting at my table with my plate empty and my drink finished there is nothing more to do. For the first time in 16 days I let go and drift into a deep blissful sleep.

THE END


Acknowledgements

First and foremost I would like to thank Kouta and Jeroen, who planned and organized the entire trip and invited me along. Without their knowledge and passion for trees and enthusiasm for learning about the natural world bordering on obsession, a trip of this scale and variety would never have happened. I hope I contributed enough to earn my place in the car!

The people who believed in me enough to recommend my climbing and measuring skills in glowing references: David Alderman of the Tree Register; Peter ‘Treeman’ Jenkins, founder of Treeclimbers International; and Mike Whitley of the Forestry Commission, Wales.

My parents for providing a reassuring correspondence from home.

Will Blozan and Michael Taylor for their advice on tree measuring, and Michael Taylor for introducing me to the concept of photo mapping and giving me one heck of a challenge.

The Sgerm-Kristan family and officials from Ribnica na Pohorju, Slovenia, for allowing me to make the first ascent of their famous tree, and for a hero’s welcome of which we were unworthy!

Krunoslav Szabo, and Katica Nuspahić from the Forestry Office of the Nova Gradiška district for showing us the Prašnik Oak Reserve and making sure we didn’t get blown up!

Nikolina Đangradović and Ivo Stanović of the Dubrovnik municipality for allowing me to climb the largest living thing in Europe, and especially to Ivo for his historical stories from the long lives of these giants.

Pepsi Man and Petrol Man, whose names we never learned, for getting us out of a tricky situation.

Mr No Problem and Lydia for feeding us at midnight and doing our washing.

Zoran Čančar, Director of the Sutjeska National Park for taking the time to meet with us and helping us focus our search in the extensive Perućica Forest Reserve.

Vladimir ‘Vlado’ Lalović, our guide in Perućica, who went far beyond his normal working day to help us over as much forest as possible.

The staff of Hotel Mladost, for looking after us, their only visitors from Western Europe, for 3 days.

…and everyone else we met along the way for helping to make this trip so interesting and who were almost without exception friendly.


.

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Will Blozan
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Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by Will Blozan » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:33 pm

Michael,

I am saddened that this is the last installment and do hope your excellent writing will appear in more richly detailed posts. I thoughly enjoy your narrative, and when coupled with photos, I feel as close to being there as I can.

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to getting the story out of your excellent and productive adventures! The European NTS team has set the bar really high!

I do hope you can make it to the TCI/NTS meeting next fall. Oh the stories that will come out of that one!

Will

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Michael J Spraggon
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Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:32 am

Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by Michael J Spraggon » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:53 am

Thanks Will. It seems like it was worth the effort!

I will try to make the 2013 Rendezvous in Atlanta -somehow.

Michael

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dbhguru
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Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by dbhguru » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:54 pm

Michael,

I echo what Will said. Your trip account presented through an obvious talent for writing reminds us that big tree hunting has many facets, one being culture, often rich. I have also gained a valuable lesson from your trip and that is that because we don't read much about an area of the world, it doesn't mean that there isn't plenty there to interest those of us looking for old growth forests and big trees.

As a case in point, my current mission in Hawaii has strong cultural overtones. The ohia and koa trees have long been used by the Polynesians for many purposes. However, the ohia is steeped in mythology. Did you all come across any mythological stories linking trees to present or past culture?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Michael J Spraggon
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Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by Michael J Spraggon » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:22 pm

Well I read that fairies called Rusalke who were young women and wives of Serbian soldiers killed in the battle of Kosovo appear in the forest at Vidovdan and light a fire around which they dance naked. If a young Serb meets these fairies during this ritual, they give him red wine to turn him into a dragon, so that he can avenge the death of Prince Lazar and his knights and free the Sun God, Vido.

Individual trees in England have stories associated with them. Many stories are historical, like the ones Ivo told us about the Trsteno planes.

I look forward to hearing about Hawaii. I would like to go there and see the geology (e.g. lava tubes) as much as anything else. I don't expect an 18,000 word travelogue though - they take ages to write!

Michael

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edfrank
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Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by edfrank » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:54 pm

Michael,
I have been looking at Serbian legends regarding the Rusalke and Prince Lazar. There is quite a bit on the internet. One account: http://realhousewifeofbelgrade.com/2011 ... n-history/ pretty much repeats your account.

Lazar of Serbia has a nice Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazar_of_Serbia
other links: http://www.srpska-mreza.com/bookstore/k ... sovo10.htm

Rusałki, oil on canvas, 250 x 161 cm, National Museum, Cracow by Witold Pruszkowski 1877
Rusałki, oil on canvas, 250 x 161 cm, National Museum, Cracow by Witold Pruszkowski 1877
as does the Rusalke: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusalka

There also was this list of supernatural beings in Slavic folklore http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavic_fairies:

Supernatural beings in Slavic folklore come in several forms and their names are spelled differently based on the specific language.

khovanets (as domovoi),
dolia (fate), polyovyk or polevoi (field spirit),
perelesnyk (spirit of seduction),
lesovyk or leshyi (woodland spirit),
blud (wanderer),
mara (specter, spirit of confusion),
chuhaister (forest giant),
mavka or niavka (forest nymphs),
potoplenytsia (drowned maiden, wife of vodianyk),
vodianyk or vodyanoy (water spirit, aka potoplenyk),
bolotianyk (swamp spirit),
bisytsia (she-devil),
potercha (spirit of dead, unbaptized child),
nichnytsia (night spirit),
mamuna (demoness),
nechysta syla (evil power),
scheznyk (vanisher),
didko, antypko, antsybolot, aridnyk (other names for evil spirits),

and many, many others. These spirits or fairies are mostly out of the Ukrainian mythology which derived out of the general Slavic folklore.

I personally would like to see more exploration of some of this folklore surrounding forests. Others are more into measurement only. Thanks for the start.

Edward Frank

.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Michael J Spraggon
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Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by Michael J Spraggon » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:15 am

It's no surprise that so much of folklore centres around woodland. It's a place of safety and of mysteries hidden in the shadows, strange smells of decay and ancient trees, older than any human, with wise old faces in their trunks. I was enchanted by the beech stand behind our house from the age of 3 or 4 and can still remember the excitement I felt when I would go through the gate in my neighbour's back garden and get out into the woods.

There must be a lot of Native American woodland folklore too.

Michael

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edfrank
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Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by edfrank » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:55 am

Michael,

There are hundreds to thousands of different Native American tribes and groups each with their own belief systems, and representing many different cultural traditions and language groups. It is difficult to characterize any cultural or religious belief without offending somebody. In general many of the groups have sacred stories dealing with the creation of the world, creation of mankind, and lessons taught to man by the Gods. Structurally these supernatural beings commonly form a pantheon similar in form and temperment to those of the Norse or Greek pantheons. Imagery in these sacred stories commonly reflects these supernatural beings as taking on the general form and names of animals native to the region when dealing with people. There is a general belief in the spirit within living things. Animals taken for food are respected and their spirits are respected and thanked for their sacrifice. Folklore of the type found in eastern Europe and of Europe in general are not present as such. The creatures of the forest have their own spirits, but the woods themselves are not populated by the variety of fey, fairies, and monsters found in the European folklore traditions.

Edward Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Bart Bouricius
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Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by Bart Bouricius » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:29 pm

Maybe not populated by the same variety, but just off the top of my head, I think of the Dwende that the Mayans I knew in Belize talked of. The Dwende has something in common with the Peruvian Chullachaki which maintains a garden in the forest, and like the Dwende will get people lost if displeased with them. The Pink Dolphins are said to shape shift into a human form and live in underwater villages where they may keep boys or girls that they have kidnapped. The Mapiquari is another creature said to look like a giant sloth except for having a biting mouth in its belly. The Yacaruna also lives beneath the river water though I have a carved mask of one, I don't remember the details of his characteristics only, rather scaly,he seems to have been the model for the creature from the black lagoon in the movie. There are many more, but I would have to do a bit more research to get the details on them.

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Michael J Spraggon
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:32 am

Re: Travelogue Part 7 - the final installment.

Post by Michael J Spraggon » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:08 pm

Industry and technology have disguised our total dependency on the other living things on the planet. Ironic isn't it, that earlier people, without our scientific knowledge, saw this much more clearly.

Michael

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