We woke upand sadly left our spacious studio apartment where we had had a much needed short beak from the rain and all it throws at us and faced the impending weather. When we woke up it had been overcast, this quickly morphed into what we’d call a soft day at home and then didn’t waste any time becoming a torential, polonged downpour.
Having revised our previous days route plan, we headed back up the busy route we had perilously negotiated yesterday. 2km of taffic hurtling past and we found ourselves happily on quiet roads with little traffic and angled ourselves toward Sisak. We peddaled on through quiet countryside wih the rain alternating between misty drizzle and monsoon levels. At our first stop we took shelter in an abandoned building, it had been stripped bare and seemed to have been an admin building perhaps. There was nohing but a shell left behind. The number of war torn and shot up buildings has increased massively since we have begun skirting along the border between Croatia and Bosnia Heregovina.Seeing so many abandoned buildings is astounding, there are so many people that have not reurned post war, communities have been decimatedand there is an air of decay that seems to increase with each village we pass through. It’s sobering to think of people leaving the lives and homes they once had here. In some houses that at first seem derelict and empty, a tell tale whisp of smoke from a chimney, a small face peaking through a window or clothes hanging on a line tells a story of those that have returned or never left. Many people seem to live in semi derelict homes with the top floor or two left open to the mercy of the elements while life continues behind the boarded up windows on the bottom floor. I’m not sure how this makes me feel. I don’t want to see people living seemingly in such hardship but it also belies the resilience of humans.
As we made our way, we crossed a big bridge over the river and our plan was to head east to Sisak along a small road. About a kilometre along the road we came to a swift halt. The river had burst is banks and was flowing through a section of road…..Do we try and neoiate the flowing flood waters or find an alternative route. A quick test of the depth had Sam wading around in knee depth water without getting all the way through so we decided to try a small back road that was visible on the map and would involve a detour of a few kilometres. It wasn’t to be. If anything, we found this road to be much worse than the previous one with some definite traces of agricultural and other waste floating around. We turned back once again and tried a small road that ended up leading us round in circles. It was time to take stock and look at our options. We could go back to our original flood and brave the waters, our only other alternative was to take a 30km detour which would leave us arriving at our destination in the dark. We plumped for the aquatic option and were successful. Shoes full of water and god knows what else, we had made it. And so on we pedalled through undulating countryside interspersed with little villages. Unfortunately, lack of residents means there is a distinct lack of shops and so we went hungry most of the day with nowhere to stop and fill our bellies. A bar of chocolate and some coffee was all that we were able to find to sustain ourselves.
On arrival in Sisak, we found the backpackers hostel conveniently shown on google maps did not actually exist, which was an inconvenience to say the least. Soggy and wet through we found the one extortionately priced hotel in town. After chatting with the brilliant receptionist, she arranged for us to have a half price room. Still well outside the realms of our daily budget but at least it wouldn’t completely blow the bank. Both feeling demoralised, damp, tired and hungry, we headed to Spar, the only open shop, to try and patch together some semblance of a meal in the form of a salad and other picnicky bits and pieces. Frayed tempers led to us having a complete meltdown with one another in the supermarket. Neither of us had any patience left and it came to a head. As we sullenly walked back to our accommodation in silence, olive branches were offered, we went to a bar for a beer and then repaired back to our hotel room to nibble on our few meagre pickings from the worst grocery shop ever attempted in human history! It was tasty but far from the daydreams of mashed potato and gravy I had been harbouring all day. Some days are tough and his has been one of them. I fell asleep dreaming of sunshine and a massive roast dinner…..