June 11 was a very rainy day in Slovenia. We sat in a little hotel in a place called Ajdovščina, and were having some trouble regaining our energy after attending my friends’ lovely-but-large wedding the previous day. They got married in the castle of Zemono, which overlooks soft, green hills with plenty of vineyards. There were a hundred of us, mostly of an age that is not exactly appropriate to dance to techno music, but we danced, nevertheless.
After the newlyweds left for their honeymoon, a small group of people actually wanted to play golf that day. They couldn’t, as it was raining heavily, and since humanity is still trying to resolve the problems of indoor golf courses, the present golfers were trying to figure out how best to kill their time. Just before the small group of friends decided to split, someone suggested that we should go and visit Postojna Cave, where the little olms — the salamanders, or “baby dragons,” as many call them — were hatching their babies.
On that morning, if I remember correctly, I tried to start a discussion about who is more popular in Slovenia: baby dragons, Melania Knauss Trump or Slavoj Žižek, the world-renowned Slovenian philosopher. It was obviously too early for some serious pondering, but the group managed to get to Postojna.
As Boris Dežulović — a writer from Dalmatia who has a regular column in the Ljubljana paper Dnevnik — observed two weeks later, we Slovenians are real weirdos: “While the whole world stares — with mouths wide open — at house porno shows of Kim Kardashian and video footage from the bedroom of Paris Hilton, the Slovenian brothers are holding their breath while watching the CCTV footage from Postojna Cave, where the ‘mother dragon’ is laying her eggs on the bottom of aquarium. The whole nation then waits to see the baby dragons be born. Slovenia went crazy because of these little dragons! For months, they have been talking about nothing else but these little, promiscuis exibitionists from the Postojan Cave, and about her larvae and eggs.”
Slovenia is a really a special nation. Slovenians love when somebody teases us. And we love Dežulović — his column is one of the most popular in the country.
So we went to the Cave. We took a train and walked into the perfect eight-degree-Celsius temperature. The humid air refreshed our brains from the strain of the night before, and we were safe from the rain. As we talked, we were amazed by how well-kept and organized the place was. It was fun. The baby dragons and their offspring? One does not get to see them, of course. The big aquarium at the center of the cave already looks like their mausoleum. With a little train in the 14-kilometer-long cave that goes deep down into the ground where the Pivka River feeds life into the cave, and with thousands of visitors every day, the little dragons are bound to disappear one day. And when this day comes, science will be ready. New, artificial salamanders are already here. As for who among the three — Žižek, Melania or the baby dragon — better represents Slovenia, I think we are ready to start a civil war.
Also published on Medium.