After a morning walking on the beach (sometimes backwards, but, minding Michael's advice, never backwards into a tidal pool), I've got my own memory of walking with Peter (published with Zarko's Vampire as Razumni recnik, or A Reasonable Dictionary, in Belgrade:
May 28, 1998, Bajina Bašta
We’ve had a hearty breakfast in Dušanka’s garden and are packing for a two-day hike on the Tara Mountain.
Peter carries the sturdy canvas pack used by one of the characters in his film Absence. He wears an old pair of high-topped leather shoes I imagine to be the same shoes featured in his story “The Shoeshiner of Split”:
In the following weeks, however, he wore the shoes in the snow of Macedonia, in the leafy dust of the mountains of Peloponnesos, in the yellow and gray sand of the Libyan and Arabic desert. And even months later, one day in Japan, it was enough to rub the leather with a cloth and the original shine from the promenade in Split reappeared, undamaged.
Žarko has a good nylon daypack and a pair of generic white athletic shoes. Zlatko, Thomas, and I carry our things in high-fashion vinyl shopping bags -- black-and-white, lemon-yellow, and pink bags supplied at the last minute by Olga. Zlatko and Thomas wear city shoes, black-leather low-topped shoes that are the antitheses of my heavy leather hiking boots.
What to note about the 35-kilometer hike? The wildflowers. The changing views of the Drina from ever-higher vantage points along the switchbacking road. The blind-worms copulating blindly on the roadside. The sunlit meadow where we lie in the grass to rest our weary feet and legs. The rare Serbian spruce Peter points out. The ski-resort inn where we re-hydrate. The serpentine logging roads. Peter’s ongoing search for mushrooms, which he stuffs into a compartment of Žarko’s pack. The desultory conversations. Our growing weariness. Žarko’s incipient and then pronounced limp. The moment late in the day when Peter picks up the pace and Thomas and I fight to match his strides while the other two fall back. The huge Tara Mountain conference and sports center swarming with sweat-suited volunteer firefighters gathered for a training session. The little roadside restaurant where the owner has been waiting for us.
While we eat a hearty dinner that includes the mushrooms Peter has picked, the restaurant owner tells us about the years he spent playing an accordion in Germany. After his back gave out, he says, he tried racing cars and finally came back to the Tara Mountain.
Sometime before midnight the racing restauranteur proves his prowess by speeding us up a winding road, leaving his slow headlights hanging in the trees at every tight corner, accelerating and braking, screeching and honking, torquing and turning to pull up abruptly at an A-frame cabin where we spend the night.