Featured image by Ranko Maraš – follow him on Instagram!
“You see this lake? It’s man-made,” commented Andrija over his right shoulder, arm outstretched on the steering wheel.
I glanced out of the window. “A man-made lake? Seriously?”
“Really, seriously,” he assured me, as I wondered how in the hell the Montenegrins had accomplished the creation of such a large lake.
I scoffed at the claim and then turned to Nino, a Montenegrin tour guide who agreed with Andrija. For once, it turned out this wasn’t dry humour intended to trick a tourist. For once, Andrija was seriously being really serious.
Andrija, Nino, Ranko and I were on our way to the Modra Rijeka Rafting Camp, with Ivan and Rade in a separate car. It’s a three-hour drive from Kotor, where I was staying at Old Town Hostel, and they say time flies when you’re having fun but in my case it didn’t go fast enough to reduce the cheek aches I was getting from laughing so much.
The road trip began at 7am on my third full day in Montenegro. The first few days had already left an impression of the quick wit and dry humour I was beginning to expect from the locals. Being British and raised on a diet of Only Fools and Horses and The Two Ronnies, quick wit and sarcasm is already the backbone to most of my conversations.
So experiencing a reflection of my sense of humour in the people of Montenegro meant that whilst I tried to give as good as I got, I was too often outwitted and left in hysterics. I’m also far too
gullible trusting, so spent the rest of the day responding to anything that came from the lips of any of the guys with the question…
“Really? Seriously, really?”
Rafting along the Tara River Canyon was an exhilarating combination of fast paddling through rapids and casual moments of floating between them. During one of the calmer periods, the skipper of the raft was pointing towards a wooden construction on the side of the river whilst discussing it with the others in the raft.
Being the only non-local on a boat of six (including the skipper) the conversation flowed freely in the Montenegrin language. I didn’t mind. I love the sound of the language and one of the boys was always willing to translate.
Which is when Ivan caught my attention and began to explain, “You see this, it’s made by beavers.”
My jaw dropped. It was huge! I whipped my head to where a second wooden construction was emerging from the bank and then turned my wide eyes back towards Ivan. “No way! Seriously?!”
He grinned at me. “Okay, maybe not really.” I took the end of my paddle and tried to push him off the raft.
Winding up the gullible British girl that they had been put in charge of wasn’t the only thing the guys were good at.
I soon began calling Rade the human jukebox as he had an incredible ability to hear any few words spoken and within a split second burst into song! And, like a Montenegrin boyband, the others on the raft were soon to join in… including myself!
At one point I accidentally clipped Andrija’s oar with mine whilst paddling through rapids. As I yelled “Sorry!” someone else shouted “Keep rhythm!”
Before I’d even had a chance to reposition my oar the three boys had erupted into a harmonised chorus, “This is the rhythm of the niiiiiiight!”
The evening before my road trip to the Tara River Canyon, I walked to the top of Kotor’s city walls with Marko.
“We must be half way already?” I puffed. Steep inclines are not my thing with exercise being tough to schedule into a life of regular travel.
I turned to Marko and he gave me a serious look, “We’re maybe one third up. Two thirds to go.”
I groaned and begged for another break from climbing as he ignored me and kept pushing me up the steps.
Then, just 20 steps later I looked up and we were almost there! We were so close! “You said we we weren’t even half way there yet!” I exclaimed.
He just grinned, even as I slapped his arm. Not for the first time, he wasn’t being really serious. But this time I was thankful for his white lie as it definitely made the final climb a lot easier!
The end of our day rafting the Tara River Canyon was a really sad one for me. My cheeks hurt from laughing and it was the final evening I would see the sun set in Kotor.
Ivan, Rade and Andrija still had a two hour drive home after dropping me in Kotor at 9pm, but Ivan had been craving ice cream all day so either for his benefit or mine, they’d all decided to spend a final hour in Kotor with me.
At one point I looked to them all, muttering my annoyance at it being my final night. On cue Rade piped up, “It’s the finaaaaal countdown… de ner neeeeer ner!”
I left the people of Montenegro, and Kotor, with this smile plastered on my face…
I went whitewater rafting with Modra Rijeka Rafting Camp as a guest of National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro and the Tourism Organisation of Kotor, but my experiences of the people of Montenegro are truthful and honest. Really, seriously really…
Lots of love,