Honey Badgers and Hippogriffs

Wow, a lot has happened since I last checked in from Aqualeia. For starters, we spent one more day biking in Italy. We went to a cool little town on the Adriatic called Grado. It had lovely bike paths. After that, we wound our way toward Slovenia, which meant that we were biking from sea level uphill. Since there is an open border between Italy and Slovenia, we crossed with no fanfare on a very isolated gravel road. It felt like we were sneaking in.

We bandit camped that night in the woods of Slovenia, about 1-2km from the border. It was a well-hidden spot, though that was almost unnecessary with the practically nonexistent traffic on the road.

The next morning, Thursday, we began our actual tour of Slovenia. Some things became immediately obvious. Slovenia is very mountainous, its towns are mostly tiny and very cute, the forests are beautiful and very green, there are tons of slugs and snails, people love to garden here, and there are endless paths for biking (though not all are paved).

We enjoyed a brief visit to a walled hilltop town called Stanjel in the middle of the day on Thursday, but most of the day we just biked along. Many of the bike paths are gravel tracks that go through forests and fields. I watched Into the Woods on my flight to Italy, and I couldn’t help but think of that movie as I pedaled along.

IMG_0201.JPG

That night we bandit camped again along one of these rarely-trafficked bike trails somewhere after Stanjel. We setup camp in a field hidden by a row of trees. While gathering rocks to use for our camp stove, Mike uncovered a black scorpion! Surprise — Slovenia has scorpions. He didn’t get stung though, and we found out they’re not too harmful.

We went to bed expecting to be woken at some point by the rain that was forecast. Instead, we woke up to the ground quivering underneath us. My heart immediately stopped in my chest when I realized there was a very large animal outside of our tent. Mike woke up seconds later, and we stared at each other wide-eyed. I looked at Mike and said,

“Holy shit, what the hell is that?”
“I dunno, maybe a bear?”
“It seems about the right size to be a bear, but it sounds like a hoofed animal to me.”
“A deer then? You saw a deer last night…”
“Mm-mm. Too big. What the hell kind of animals do they have in these forests?”

After a minute or so of stomping, we heard a loud noise that sounded like a mix between a large dog and a bird of prey (or a pterodactyl). I couldn’t imagine any kind of deer-like creature making a noise like that, so the only thing I could picture was a Hippogriff, like Buckbeak in Harry Potter. Mike mentioned boars as a possibility. After a few more screech-barks, we thought the stomps and the noise were coming from different places. The stomping soon stopped, but the noises continued for a while. In fact, they seemed to multiply, and imagined a pack of whatevers surrounding us. I was throughly freaked out and convinced I would not sleep again. However, after what seemed like a half an hour of screech-barks and another of silence, I fell asleep again.

An hour or so later, the noises (minus the stomping) started again, waking me once more. I convinced Mike to hop online (using precious limited data) to find out what kind of deadly animals inhabit this strange land. Scorpions? Not deadly. Bears? Just don’t piss them off, and keep your food stuffs and smelly items elsewhere (which we were already doing, thank goodness). Snakes? Sure, but not too many poisonous ones and no deaths in the past 30 years. Mike continued searching info about native animals and mentioned badgers. The site he found said they have a large repertoire of barking sounds and they are nocturnal. I decided the culprits of the screech-barks must be badgers. At least, it seemed less terrifying until I remembered that crazy-ass Honey Badger. We don’t really know what made the noises, not do we know what was stomping around, but there are many hoofed deer-like creatures in Slovenia.

Ultimately, nothing happened besides lost sleep. Our food was even where we left it the night before.

Oh, by the way, that rain woke me up around 4am.

Comments
2 Responses to “Honey Badgers and Hippogriffs”
  1. Rob B. says:

    Hahah, I don’t think I would have fallen back to sleep.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: