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SYNAGOGUE OF NOVI SAD
In the synagogue of Novi Sad, the concert begins. Our friend Sinisha plays the double bass with the Vojvodina Symphony Orchestra. My body shudders. My whole being vibrates with gratitude for simply being here, present. There are moments that sometimes seem surreal, moments when we feel that Life has orchestrated something beyond us. Tonight, the musicians have chosen to play without a conductor. A first. As if carried by the music, the artists synchronise with each other in a fabulous movement.
Crossing Europe means realising that we live in an intercultural world with mixed communities. Vojvodina which we are currently crossing is a symbol of it. This autumn province of Serbia has over 25 ethnic groups and six official languages. Humanity is to be celebrated!
Welcomed in the village of Kovačica
« A Raki to celebrate our encounter " exclaims Dragan. This strong alcohol, made from fruit, is a tradition.
Nayla and Fibie leave by bike to attend school in the village of Kovačica! What an experience to witness school in Serbia! Fibie joins the kindergarten classes with Iskra. Nayla participates in the bigger classes with Sofia. Dragan and Biljana welcomed us here with their three daughters Teodora, Sofia and Iskra. More than hospitality, we are now part of the family. A strong bond unites us through our activities and passions, but above all a deep connection. Soon, conversations become personal, intimate.
Fibie came back delighted with her experience, singing and dancing with the children. She hastened to add: - "I had a super teacher!"
Nayla liked the spirit even though she said she prefers her bike. She received drawings from the class and made friends with some of the girls. We also organised a talk for the school. The children are excited and thrilled to see the girls on their bikes around the world. After 5 days, it's time to move on. We leave, wiping tears from our eyes.
In the heart of nature
A jackal howls! A beautiful and powerful cry a few metres from the tent. We are startled. A shiver runs through me. The pack, a few kilometres away, responds in unison. We are alert, but above all amazed by this incredible encounter, by the power of this call. Its magic bewitches us. We are in a protected reserve, alone with the animals. Yet we had to struggle to reach this place.
The sand track, which led us there, was an unimaginable challenge. We pushed our bikes uphill for ten kilometres. Nayla also pulled her bike, while Fibie threw herself into the sand to play. Ten kilometres is long, it's endless. It's rough on the body, it's exhausting for the muscles, it's back-breaking, but it's especially hard on the mind. Because we don't know when or where this relentless journey will end. There's a moment when everything gets out of control, the moment when we wish we could speed up and finally get there, and then we realise that we'll have to be patient, that we'll have to dive into the unknown, that we'll have to hold on for the long haul, and above all that we'll have to stay together as a team right to the end, because if the girls break down, we're stuck here in the middle of nowhere. We wanted to get out of the sand before setting up camp. After 10 km of hard work, we put up the tent. There is no sign of any improvement in the track, but the sun is about to set. We wash ourselves in the freezing wind.
The next morning, the fog is dense. We push our bikes for another 15 km and 5 hours. In total, we pushed our bikes for 25 km. We are physically and mentally exhausted, and yet once back on a regular trail, we realize what an incredible journey we have just made.