Border river Kolpa separates two republics. Slovenia and Croatia. At least that is what we used to be taught at geography classes. But when you come closer and you get to know this beautiful place you can see that people don't admit borders. Even if governments are trying to impose them with barrieres.
People were always more connected to each other in small towns. Friendships, trading and mixed marriages established conditions for common language on both river banks. Kolpa river was a unifier. In the summer, in low water conditions, people would cross it on foot, otherwise they would use horses. Later boats as well. But when it rose high it was impassable. In a narrow valley, on the brink of remoteness, residents stayed connected by building bridges, which later replaced boats. They were made from concrete, steel and wood. But country independence caused the loss of their importance. It can be said we obtained our state and lost our friends and neighbours. Most of the Kolpa river bridges were closed and crossings forbidden. Visiting and running errands were possible only by crossing new borders.
Villages along the river are fewer settled then in the past. Many of them don't have permanent residents, houses and properties are deteriorating. There are no vineyards in the upper Kolpa valley any more, mills and saw mills are silent, dams are disappearing. Inhabitants are old, rare families are having a tough time surviving. There is a few children there and schools have worrying number of pupils.
Today new generations are rediscovering the Kolpa river, its countryside and are exploring its mountains and culture. Here it is still possible to enjoy the intact nature and to listen to the quietness of virgin forests.
Now, that we all are a part of the European Union, people on both sides want to renew those bridges. They want tighter contacts with friends from the neighbouring side since common history, difficult present and uncertain future connects them all.
Original language: Slovene