Thursday, 11 March 2010

Spoilt Natural Beauty

It is the preserve of travel writers to tell tales of the unspoilt natural beauty they have witnessed. I wish this post were one of those. Alas it is not. Last week we drove a section of the main road between Banja Luka and Sarajevo. Alongside the road runs the River Vrbas. It's not a huge mass of rushing water, although neither is it a trickle; about the width of the narrow two lane road next to it you might successfully navigate it in a canoe or small raft. Trees line both banks. Come spring it could be a beautiful sight, but it won't be. Instead mile upon mile of spoilt natural beauty with bear the scars of human wastefulness.

In our experience the retailers of Bosnian and Herzegovina have a strange obsession with the dispensing of plastic bags. If the trend in the UK is for a sales assistant to make you feel guilty for using a bag – or make you pay for the privilege – here you are more likely to cause offence, at very least bewilderment, if you try to exit a shop without one. This proliferation of plastic has to end up somewhere. Sadly it seems Central Bosnia's bags have recently taken the collective decision to make accessorising the banks of the Vrbas their final eco-defying act.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a land of often undiscovered, and frequently unspoilt, natural beauty. On more than one occasion it has presented us with vistas so breathtaking they've demanded likening to the mystical landscapes of Middle Earth. But this trip drew a Lord of the Rings connection of a different kind. I couldn't but help imagine this was the ghoulish Army of the Dead lining the river banks, their ranks unbroken for mile upon tortured mile. Rising at least three or four feet from the water's edge the shrouded shrubbery could not have been more seamless. I have neither the authority nor the expertise to declare what we witnessed an ecological disaster but it was a solemn reminder that true beauty is a fragile and, too often, fleeting thing. Once lost it is not easily regained.

2 comments:

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

I get so ANGRY about the rubbish situation here. People dump stuff in the most beautiful places, we see them drive up, chuck out bags of rubbish. Cleaning up after yourself after a picnic seems a step too far for many people. And the plastic bags, broken glass and general muck that litters so much of Bosnia's spectacular landscape is a crime.

Most of the Bosnians I know hate it, but some of them are doing it, because it is everywhere.

WeDoAdventure said...

This looked like a rubbish dump had got flooded and washed downstream. Low-lying areas around the river were strewn with bottles and other junk. But I agree that should not take away from the general carelessness that exists.

We had a number of Bosnian friends with us on this drive who were as horrified as we were. Maybe at some point there will be enough of them to make a change.