Bhutan

THE KINGDOM OF HAPPY PEOPLE
Sensa, December 2015

If there is a country anywhere in the world where one should seek the recipe for happiness, it is certainly in Bhutan. This little kingdom in the Himalayas has made happiness a part of its Constitution, the supreme value and the main goal of development. I travel by jeep along the only road meandering at the foot of the Himalayas, where the entirety of urban Bhutan is located, and then by foot for weeks to the furthest valleys of the Himalayas where people live. With the help of my companion and translator, I ask them clearly and bluntly about the recipe for happiness.  (complete text)


How She-Who-Comes-With-The-Rain wed

MASSAI WEDDING
Meridijani, June 2013

Rain had been falling incessantly the day she was born. For this reason her parents named her Nalotesha – She-Who-Comes-With-The-Rain. It has been raining since morning on this day as well – the day they will come for her. Today is the last day of her life as she knows it, the last day of her life with her parents; with the family that she has lived with for the past sixteen years. (complete text)


Winter on Biševo island

Meridijani, December 2012

Biševo is our furthest officially settled island. It is also an island where all the wonders and horrors of life on the open seas of the Adriatic can be best felt. In the summer, about two hundred people live here, while the Blue Cave attracts tourists in the tens of thousands. In the winter, however, tourists are nowhere to be found, and even the locals are difficult to encounter. Only about fifteen inhabitants – the true, genuine, unyielding islanders – remain on the island, almost cut off from the rest of the world. It is through their stories that we will attempt to depict life on this remote island. (complete text)


The Dogon

WEST AFRICAN PEOPLE OF UNIQUE CUSTOMS AND MYTHOLOGY 
National Geographic, august 2011

Reaching the edge of the Cliffs of Bandiagara is an experience words and photographs can hardly convey. After traveling two thousand kilometers through the stubbornly flat savanna of West Africa, from the Atlantic coast to the heart of Mali, reaching the cliffs is like reaching a great turning point. The cliffs stretch 200 kilometers in length and the walls plummet 200, 300, occasionally even 500 meters down. (complete text)


Saljske užance – the cultural summer festival of Sali

Meridijani, May, 2011

DAY ONE. 

The evening of a long summer’s day. The island and its town Sali. The Riva promenade along the bay. The village has the sea at its lap, but today this sea is hardly visible from so many boats. Seventy berths aren’t enough, so as the boats arrive, they are tied to one another, until they completely cover the harbor. It could be said that Sali is a quiet place, but tonight the hum of the crowd prevails. (complete text)


Kumano Kodo – sacred sites and pilgrimage routes of the Kii peninsula in Japan

Meridijani, November, 2010

The day began early, much before sunrise, but that’s how the days start atop Mount Koya, or Koyasan, not far from Kyoto in Japan. Neatly combed and well kempt yet drowsy people walked in a deadly silence down the wooden halls of the shrine Muryoko-in, one of the 117 shrines atop Koyasan. Among these people were Buddhist monks in grey robes and laymen from all over the world. (complete text)


Carnival customs in Međimurje

National Geographic Croatia, February 2010

For quite a while now, the fertile soil has been frozen under the snow. The days are getting longer, however, and the sun shines in an increasingly higher arc, radiating the white plains with an optimism of its new awakening. Peasants of the village Turčišće in Međimurje spend their winter days in leisure after having spent the long days of spring and fall working in their fields. Now, while it is still cold outside, they do not socialize much. But towards the end of winter and arrival of spring, Carnival takes place. (complete text)


Mar Musa – oasys of peace in the Syrian desert

Meridijani, December 2009

Ahlan wa sahlan! Ahlan wa sahlan wa marhaba!” Father Paolo would thunder hoarsely each time a newcomer would appear on the terrace of the stone monastery Mar Musa. Like a fortress, it rises from a cliff along a dry riverbed and watches over a great expanse of the Syrian Desert. He would then immediately drop whatever he is doing and rush to welcome his new guest. (complete text)


Damascus – the oldest city in the world today

Meridijani, October 2009

While on my first visit to Damascus seven years ago, I immediately knew that I would return one day. The first time I went, I had journeyed for five months by bicycle from Zagreb to Damascus just to feel with my legs how far away it is. This time I traveled five hours by plane just to feel how close it actually is. As I exited the airplane, a fresh gust of Levantine wind blew a dry desert scent my way. (complete text)


Moreška – the last authentic sword dance in the Mediterranean

National Geographic Croatia, August 2009

On the stone stage at the base of the city walls that encircle Korčula’s old town, an all-time ceremonial drama begins. A figure dressed in a black Baroque costume, the black king, brings forth the bula, a lady shackled in chains, and asks her to go with him. He offers her his entire kingdom, but she, being honorable, refuses to be his. For the price of her life, she bravely opposes him, proclaiming that her heart belongs to the white king. (complete text)


Bosnian dervishes

National Geographic Croatia, June 2009

Coauthor: Nina Skorup

Sarajevo was embraced by an autumn sunset. Sheikh Halil Hulusi Nakshibendi, the spiritual leader of the Nakshibendian tekija in Mejtaš, set on the southern point of this dervish temple of unification and prayer of heart, facing Mecca. Veiled women’s faces were peering through inlaid-wood on the upper floor of the tekija, while men were sitting on the first floor, forming two or three halkas (circles). The room was rather dark, but it felt warm nevertheless; the light in it was softening the dark green shades entwined with the color of wood. (complete tekst)


Sinj – from the Alka to Our Lady

Meridijani, February 2008

Early in the morning, a loud, rasp sound woke me from my sleep. From the hill that rises above the city of Sinj, cannons called “mačkule” began firing like crazy. Whoever had been still asleep, must have been awake by now. I looked out the window at Sinj’s promenade and realized that I was the only awaken by the “mačkule”. The city had already been up for quite some time! I went down to the street where the city’s official band cheerfully sounded reveilles. The most festive day of the year had begun – the day of the knight’s tournament, the Sinjska Alka. (complete text)


Sex-tourism in Thailand

Globus, July 2007

Since the night fell, Pattaya changes its face. It starts glimmering in red, it rises up and starts dancing. Loud “trash” pop comes from local bars but tourists don’t seem to mind. They are attracted to the lustful visuals, and as they pass in front of the bars girls scream at them. They are lured, as easy targets. Exotic beauties from the Far East, traditionally skilled nymphomaniacs, caring and sensible whores, decadent courtesans… (complete text)


The Rainbow tribe

Geo, December 2007

Sheep skins were lying on the floor of the Indian tipi and a fire was burning in the middle. Smoke was rising some seven to eight meters and escaping out a hole through which entered rays of light from the sun at its zenith.  Little by little, barefooted and longhaired people started entering through the tipi doors. When the room filled up, a tall man took a stick in his hands and silenced the murmur with a calm and deep voice, “I called this council so it is up to me to start the story!” (complete text)


Papua New Guinea – From the stone age to the parliament

Meridijani, June 2007

Papua New Guinea is probably the most undeveloped and most traditional country in the world today. Just seventy years ago, one gold digger reached an unknown mountain massif while exploring new possibilities for finding gold. There he discovered more than a million people practically living in the Stone Age. They still hadn’t made discoveries such as writing, the wheel, or metal, and they hadn’t had a clue that beyond their mountains there lies a different, modern, “developed” world. 40 years later, these same people got political independence, formed a parliament, and had to run their country according to the principles of modern democracy. (complete text)


The wild Cetina – Croatian adrenalin

National Geographic Adventurer, May 2008

“Are we ready?” I ask the boys one last time.
“We are, we are” they reply as if the task ahead of us is a piece of cake.
“Sorry for being a bore, but as I already said, once we reach the rapids, there’s no going back. After the Cetina enters the canyon, there’s no other way out and God only knows what’s awaiting us there!”
Just watch out, be smart, everything’s gonna be okay… And just take it easy, the guys reply.
“What’s important is that we don’t throw ourselves in the water!” (complete text)


Croatia on fire

National Geographic Croatia, June 2008

The sun had appeared this third morning too, yet Zoran Grljević and his colleagues did not welcome it refreshed for the new day. Instead of going to get rest, they lit new cigarettes and continued waiting. “It’ll arrive soon; just ten more minutes, and it’s here!” Zoran said almost inaudibly with his voice hoarse and painfully worn out after two nights of intensive yelling. Written on the guys’ T-shirts were the words: Dubrovnik Fire Brigade. This all made them sick, who knows where else they will have to suffer in their hot firefighting uniforms. (complete text)


Aghori, the legitimate cannibals of India

Večernji list, September 2004

If somebody were to tell you stories about people who indulge in alcohol and drugs, who live in cemeteries, eat human flesh, and have sexual intercourse with corpses, you would definitely think that they are talking about some lunatic, Satanist, or at least mentally ill person. However, if these people live in India and are called Aghori, then almost billion Hindus believe they are holly men, and their ‘filthy’ deeds are not considered repulsive and pervert, rather they are welcomed and worthy of respect. (complete text)


Croats build Kabul

National Geographic Croatia, May 2004

Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, the city on the river with the same name, at the altitude of 1800m, what makes it one of the highest capitals in the world, is not a favourite tourist destination nowadays. It is still de facto war affected area, but a big construction site as well. And among the builders of new Kabul, Croats play the important role …

News of incidents in Kabul awaited me in Istanbul. I had just gathered all information, permits, and documents necessary for me to enter the country, when I received a message from Hari Brkljačić, commander of the Croatian military mission for the defense of peace and security as part of multinational forces there. He wrote about two most recent attacks by suicide bombers in which two soldiers died and at least ten people were wounded. (complete text)


Guatemala – In the search for the Mayas

Meridijani, September 2005

While we ride in the clunky old bus down the bumpy dirt roads of Guatemala, I think about where I am. Deep in the heart of Central America, civilization slowly swallows the last bit of true wilderness. In neighboring Mexico, all of the wild forests have already been cut down, and now the same thing is happening here in Peten, the northernmost region of Guatemala. According to the map I have that is two years old, the region I am passing through is marked with a dark green color that represents selva - the rainforest. (complete text)


Bolivia – In the land of Toromonas

Playboy, March 2006

“450, I don’t feel like counting anymore!” Borna sighed, while grimacing under the unbearable tropical sun. Now indifferent, he stopped counting mosquito bites on his legs, as if he wasn’t bothered by them at all, and threw himself onto his back, exhausted. Our rubber boat slowly floated on the calm part of the river. We had just left Puerta de diablo – Devil’s Gate, the wildest stretch of the river Tuichi in one of the remotest parts of Bolivia. Imagine a hundred meter wide river narrowing into a canyon that is a mere ten meters wide. (complete text)


Kumbh Mela – Saints on the world’s biggest festival

Večernji list, August 2004

First I heard drums, then trumpets, then screams. Hundreds of ascetics were pushing their way in a procession through the excited crowds that had been waiting for them the whole night. The first rays of the rising sun marked the beginning of Shahi Snan, a royal ritual bathing in the holy waters of Shipra in Ujjain, India. By the time the procession reached Ramgat, the place where gods had spilled drops of the nectar of immortality, the holy men had already fallen into a trance. (complete text)


Višnjica – the village of Arabian horses

National Geographic Croatia, February 2005

Winter nights in the Slatina region start and end early. Already by 8 p.m., people are in bed. There is nothing to do during the day so there are no stories told by the fire at night either. And the sleepy mood carries on into the gray morning. For days now, the sun’s rays have not probed through the low gray clouds. Wheat and barley crops have already been sowed, and the grapes have been harvested long ago. The pigs were already slaughtered, and the wood was chopped as well. The region that lives from agriculture has fallen into a winter sleep. It is boring, monotone, grey, and yet somehow comfortable. Frost covers the sleeping landscape during the night, and during the day the sun is not strong enough to warm those icy droplets. (complete text)


Mass tourism – Global threat to the local cultures

Večernji list, November 2004

The number of tourists in the world is drastically increasing. Croatia is not caught up in this trend yet, so apart from the extremely rich, or from a handful of ambitious young adventurers, there are not many Croatians who travel out of Europe. The term ‘backpacker’, however, has slowly been introduced to Croatia these past few years. In West Europe, North America, Australia, or Japan, almost all youths are backpackers. They work and study throughout the whole year and then grab their backpacks and travel the world. (complete text)


Mostar’s bridge flyers

Vjesnik, August 2005

(The famous bridge in Mostar, which was an UNESCO site of great cultural and historical importance, was destroyed in the war in 1993. and was reconstructed in 2004. Every summer there is an annual competition in jumping from the 23 meter high bridge into cold waters of the river Neretva.)

The summer sun was striking at full force that Sunday afternoon, so a glimpse towards the green Neretva beneath the new Old Bridge in Mostar was refreshing. 15 000 people filled the steep banks, settled on roofs of nearby stone houses and small terraced beaches to witness the unique spectacle – the jumping-from-the-bridge competition. (complete text)


Have Tibetans accepted the Chinese?

Večernji list, October 2004

Tourist agencies throughout the world, including those in Croatia that offer programs for exotic journeys to remote regions of the world, invite clients to take an unforgettable trip to Tibet, the ultimate adventure in the last spiritual corner of the world. The basis for promotion of this idea is in intact, wild nature on the ‘roof of the world’, amazingly hospitable and friendly people, spiritually rich Buddhist culture, and in the exotic architecture of these Tibetan villages. Those who are lucky to afford at least $3 000 for a twenty day tourist package can get disappointed right on the spot, because these slogans describe Tibet before the Chinese had arrived, Tibet half a century ago. And contemporary Tibet offers a completely different picture! (complete text)