I have dreams of travelling to distant places that would bring me closer to myself. I am an old soul, they said, always searching for my other selves in places away from home. But don’t we all want a piece of something that would make us see the beauty in us and of the world? The heart of a traveler, they said too.
Along comes Mavrovo, a place I discovered through a fellow-traveler who had been to the place while it was being ravaged by war. He speaks of its beauty with regret. Rolling mists, crisp mountain air, beautiful scenery—one he’s never seen before anywhere else. I took my curiosity to the internet and it didn’t take long before I took the next flight out to Macedonia. What I thought was going to be just another trip to Europe turned out to be one of my most memorable travels for reasons I will reveal later.
The one hour drive from Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, went by so fast. My mind went through the details of my trip, what to do in Mavrovo and where to go. The moment I got lost in my thoughts, absorbing the beauty around me, we came to a halt. Words escaped me. The dizzying beauty of Mavrovo further cemented my belief that the world isn’t here by accident. It cannot be when it’s this beautiful. The Bistra Mountain speaks volumes of its beauty, holding an abundance of natural and cultural attractions. I skied, hiked, bird-watched, cycled, fished, followed the river, explored the caves, visited monasteries and spent time with fellow travelers from the world over. Judging from our conversations and their unwillingness to leave the place, I reckon we’ve found a place where we can retreat, escape and get lost in ourselves—far from the nagging sound and ridiculously high standards of city life.
Mavrovo is the largest national park in Macedonia, thus explains its natural abundance. For avid fans of skiing, Mavrovo is pure bliss so unlike other skiing destinations. The events and food didn’t disappoint either; my schedule was filled to the brim and my palate, satiated. The monasteries, surrounded by impressive natural environment, brought me so much joy. In the Lake Mavrovo, a man-made body of water beneath the ski center, there stood a half-submerged church. I have been told that during dry season, you can see its entirety. I didn’t want to see it in its entirety, though that would also be interesting, because a half-submerged church in the middle of the lake is, to me, more dramatic, engaging and thought-provoking, if you may.
But, just like in all of my travels, goodbye is inevitable. I wrote, scribbled, thought, read and pondered on my imminent departure. I had to make sure the scenery is etched in the recesses of my mind so I would come back, which I will, but this time with a better understanding of why nobody forgets about Mavrovo.