LES MONTAGNES SERBES

OD SRPSKIH PLANINA

THE FIRST SUMMER OF SARPLANINAC ZOE

We arrive at Ohrid in the morning. Our first task is to find lodging. By chance, we find a private room in a house that has the same address as our house in Belgrade! The landlady, a woman in her fifties, will accept Zo under the condition that she sleeps on the balcony; in reality, the tiny Zo will more often sleep in her room, at the headboard of the landlady's bed.
We are staying about 20 days to enjoy the leisure of the beach, in the most beautiful weather. Zo accompanies us everywhere, except when we are visiting churches and monasteries. At those times, our landlady takes care of her. At the beach, Zo roams around, visits every nook, follows the hikers and the bathers; she is very curious.
When I am sunbathing, she entertains herself by tugging on my hair, or by pulling threads out of my beautiful beach towel.




One day we put her too abruptly in the water - a big mistake: for the rest of her life this, very courageous, bitch will shy away from water, whether at the sea, lake, or river.
The very blue Ohrid lake is located at a 695 meter elevation and has a characteristically mild climate. Thirty km long and 15 km wide, its greatest depth is 294 meters, and its surface area 350 km2.





The translucency of its water allows visibility even at a 24 m depth. The nature surrounding the lake is pristine. The border toward Albania cuts across the south border of the lake.


The old town Ohrid, once Lihnidos, finds itself on the north side of the lake; squeezed into the rocks, it is spread over the hills and partially hidden by the walls of the Samuil's town. The reflections of the houses mirror themselves on the clear water of the lake. The town is built in an oriental style, the house's upper floors creating an overhang, while the house outer walls embrace the darkly painted planks, and the balconies hanging under the roofs covered with the old tiles. The streets are very narrow. No one reproduced the old architecture of the towns of southern Yugoslavia and that of Ohrid better than Ljubomir Ivanovic in his pencil drawings, which create an impression of color. The town of Ohrid is an antique town, with a wealth of churches and monasteries whose interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes, icons, and wood carvings from the famous Debar school. In the town of Ohrid originated one of the hearts of the Slavic culture. Kliment and Naum, the followers of St. Cirilo and St. Metodije, are spreading the Cyrillic script and opening the first Slavic University in Ohrid, in 893.
Every day, we visit one of the beautiful churches. In the center of the town we visit the cathedral of St. Sofija (IXth century), the oldest and most renowned preserved town's landmarks, the church of the Mother of God Perivlepta on a small hill at the edge of the town, the beautiful monastery of St. Jovan Kaneo.
Among other attractions let us mention the Vth century's Samuilo town, the basilica in Studenciste with a mosaic from the Vth century, and an antique theatre.
On the east coast of the lake we discover, among others, a very picturesque monastery, St. Zaum. Another excursion takes us all the way south, to the Albanian border, the site of the famous monastery from the Xth century, St. Naum, famous for its wood-carved iconostas and a few fantastic icons.
An anecdote with Zo is associated with this place. In front of the monastery, Zo found a flattened, dry carcass of a frog. Following the instincts of a starved puppy, that she was on her way down the mountain from her native Restelica, she grabbed the frog in her snout. A bastard who wanted to get acquainted with her appeared at that moment. Being afraid for the safety of her frog Zo, admittedly, did not give him a friendly welcome.
Getting to the Prespan lake required a long excursion. The road took us through the mountain of Galicnica, a huge territory declared a National Park, rich in wildlife. We were thus advised not to leave the car a great deal, for it is not a rarity to encounter a bear. At one point into the journey, a heard of bison taking a dip in the lake attracted our curiosity. Prespan lake is very different from Ohrid lake; shallower and greener in color, it is beautiful in it's own way. The surrounding Galicnica is pretty bare.
We tried out all restaurants in Ohrid and surroundings, but we appreciated the most one on the lake where one could order the famous Ohrid trout. The market in Ohrid is very picturesque, and we visited it as much to admire its variety as to weigh our slow-growing puppy. Toward the end of our stay (at the time she was surely more than two months old) Zo weighed only six kg!
The journey on the way back was long, thus we no longer stopped to visit the historic places. In Belgrade, waited for us a male puppy, we have reserved all the way from Belgium, from one of the well-known breeders. Our disappointment was great, when we encountered a huge puppy, obviously much older than what his owner claimed it to be, and whose front legs were those of an invalid. His whole front pastern laid flat on the ground as he walked like Charles Chaplin. We, nevertheless, decided to take him, in hope that under better living conditions his problems may be alleviated. However, looking at him as he appeared, we asked ourselves whether it was wise to take him. Finally, we decided to consult a reliable veterinarian, a university professor, who advised us to immediately return him, assuring us that such problems cannot be resolved. We returned to Belgium with Zo without a partner. We would have to be patient and begin the search for a new male.