A gentleman, author of many amazing books and a passionate kayaker that is best described by foreword to his book Rivers, Gorges, Rapids… (1987):
When a man truly dives into the rivers, gorges and rapids, he will probably never let his mind off them. He is again and again drawn by the world that is different than the one we are used from the riverbanks. If you look at them from the river, if you observe them with the current, you will catch a glimpse of a formerly unknown landscapes, skirted with trees that are bending above water surface, with wide dunes or rock walls, that are ascending to the sky.
Sometimes you scare a flock of birds that are resting on sand dune or a solitary animal that is drinking from the shore, you see shepherds with their herds, lone cottages and towns and bridges, over witch cars are rushing. Only a boater, who flows on her knows, how alive a river can be. And how hopelessly dead she is, when a man destroys her, when she is poisoned by sewage from factories and cities. This is why kayakers are among the most active of ones that try to wake the conscience in humanity and save the rivers before destruction.
You have to experience the river. For those that are not given to taste the enticement of paddling, to fight with rapids and become aware of their own insignificance in the deepest of canyons, this film should unravel just a tiny bit of amazing world of rivers. Comfortably sitting or standing travel with kayakers and explore the beauty they are witnessing when paddling.
THE BALKAN RIVERS TOUR
When our ancient ancestors became aware of what was around them for the first time they realised that the world is beautiful. A morning is beautiful when the sun comes up above the horizon, when the sun sets, it is shockingly beautiful to see a storm covered with dark clouds and lightnings. In springtime, we listen to the birds singing, in wintertime, we discover the melancholy of snowflakes, falling from the grey sky.
As a kayaker, I discovered the beauty of rivers. You get to know it already by simply walking along their banks or by leaning on a bridge and looking down to the constantly rushing streams. But when you sit inside a kayak, you enter a different world, a world which immediately takes you over. You run through primeval nature, where things can not be taken for granted. You surrender to this new place, where there are no people, no cars, where you listen to the voices of birds and the murmur of a paddle. You go through the rapids, where the ”music” wins you over, be it pleasant or threatening. When you overcome troubles, you can feel your power and experience the symphony of murmur and spark, it all becomes perfect. If Aristotle was still alive, he would compare the ride down the rapids with an Antique drama. When reaching the goal, you are cleansed and reborn.
Even poets couldn’t go past the beauty of rivers. Prešeren, Slovenia’s greatest poet, turned old tales, created by looking into deep, green river pools, into verse. Gregorčič wrote a hymn to our most beautiful river Soča. What would he write, if he got to know it, like we do, the ones who paddled through its rapids?
On the other hand, technocrats speak of progress being inevitable. But progress which is one-sided does not deserve to be named that. Is everything that comes with progress, worth destroying the world? Instead of the real world, we offer people its substitute on TV and film screens. Advertising signs turn night into day, the volume of speakers destroying our eardrums. Roads in villages are still lit at night, even though no one walks on foot anymore. We light up our churches, castles and monuments every single night. We behave like the energy is just a number on our account. And to produce it, we are destroying the world.
When the world is changed, it is no longer beautiful. The naked slopes and avalanches where there used to be woods look ugly, smokey industrial towns look grey, the view of the cities through opaque air does not look nice. The view of the river that used to be clean and green, sparkle and rustle now flows without beauty and life like an old tired lady. There is no challenge, no encouragement for the young, no option for catharsis. Instead, they are left with illusions, substitutes for the real world, boredom, drugs.
We have to decide, and reach a deal between greed for comfort and a healthy mind. We will not bring the world back to the Middle Ages, but we need to preserve healthy, beautiful and encouraging environment: clean, pure and flowing rivers, the true beauties of the Earth’s surface. Let’s preserve them for our future generations, for future optimism, for the healthy spirit in a kayaker’s body, let’s preserve them for the fish and the fishermen, too, for bold swimmers, walkers, lovers, poets and painters, for the murmur of the waves, that caresses our ears. For the sun and the moon, that will look at each other in their waves.
The Balkan Rivers Tour is a joint activity by Leeway Collective, EuroNatur, Riverwatch, and WWF, organized within the framework of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign. Without any regard for protected areas, endangered species or local communities, about 2,700 hydropower plants are projected to be built between Slovenia and Albania. With this campaign, we want to stop this dam tsunami.
Find out more here: http://www.balkanrivers.net/ and http://www.balkanriverstour.com/