Take The Old Road

By 24 June 2018

The new road is fast and safe. The new road will take you there in time. It will make the journey easy and clear. All the signs point towards the new road. Everyone is proud of the new road. All the bigshots are there. Fast food giants, gas station tycoons and the cruising limousines.

You can meet people from all around the world on the new road. Driving their cars, trucks, campers, vans and buses on the new road. Coming from Canada and Japan, travelling from Sweden and Russia, all converging on the new road. They like it, but they don't know any better. The new road is the only thing they know. But listen to me, reader, take some advice from someone who was here before the new road - don't join them! Take the old road.

The old road is what you really want. It's slower, but the old road is where life happenes. The old road is where history was born. The old road is where death knocked on the door, and a place where darkness was deafeated. You can smell the old road, you can taste it too. You can learn by looking, and comprehend by listening on the old road. It's not an easy road, but it will take you places you couldn't imagine.

Where is the old road? That's a rhetorical question.

There's more than one of them, but it's all the same road. Like the blood vessels of the country, it spreads to all of its parts. But if you're looking for the jugular, it could be the one going from the northern plains, through the dark wolf mountains, serpenting towards the south, meandering the karst giants of the ancient Adriatic. If you ask anyone ''Where is the old road?'' – They'll know.

When on the old road, look around you. You will see how empires of old made their permanent stamp, how they divided this land, and erected the symbols of their mortal presence. Roman bridges crossing the rivers, Habsburg palaces guarding the railways, Venetian fortresses overlooking the canyons, Greek temples hiding among the grey rocks. Green fields covering the battles of old, half ruined churches acting as reminders of ancients disputes. Forgotten cities of lost Illyrians still whispering their stories through the wind. Crusader headquarters, pirate hideaways and partisan bunkers, the old road remembers it all. There are no history books more vivid than the old road, to remind you what was life before this country became a tourist Mecca.

Some of the history looks fresh too. Ruined houses. Emtpy villages. Forgotten farms consumed by wild nature. There was a war here not long ago. You can see bulletholes on the buildings. Mine field warning signs near the forests. Reminders that peace is always fragile, and should never be taken for granted. A sober reminder for those intoxicated by the georgous landscape. For those thinking that this was always the land of destruction, the old road knows better.

For the old road is the place where the world was illuminated with spirit and light. The first slavic books were printed on the old road just a couple of decades after Gutenberg. The old road was the place where Meštrović learned the hidden secrets of stone and ore, his talent now decorating the halls of the United Nations. The old road was also the birthplace of Tesla. It was the place were Tesla went to school, and a place where Tesla built the first European hydroelectric power plant, just two days after the Niagara Falls power plant gave birth to the new era. The old road remembers the darkness before, and how Nikola deafeated it.

You have to smell the old road. You have to smell the cut grass, the farm manure, the ever changing fields of mountain spices and evergreen forests, but when you smell the food, you have to stop. And taste the old road. I will not force you to, reader, but the old road is long and you'll need the rest. And just like the Argonauts, who traveled this very road, lamb on the spit is what all heroes yearn for. It was a meal that cursed Odysseus and it is no wonder, for the spitted lamb is an ancient delicacy as old as the first alphabet. Take your time, and realize that on the old road, you're at one with those ancient travellers. This place is not foreign to you. Your people came from a place just like this so long ago. Let go and feel at home.

And when you're done, and you leave the old road, you will not feel like you've wasted your time. Time will be waiting for you. And you will meet your friends that took the new road, and they will ask you:

''Where were you? We were worried that you were stuck in traffic or something.''

And you will respond.

''No. I took the old road. And so should you.''