Vardar for a Guinness World Record

Biljana Bogdanovska

The murky waters of Vardar are flowing fast, carrying secrets, dragging time… so some of Vlatko Stefanovski’s lyrics say, so we never knew what the waters were hiding. But this weekend, from the bottom of the largest river in the country that rises at Vrutok and flows into the Aegean Sea, about 50 car tires were fished out just under the Goce Delchev Bridge.
How many more bridges go over the 388 kilometers-long Vardar? How many more tires and other waste do its waters hide? The plastic bottles that float around and gather around the galleys don’t seem so terrible now that such garbage was removed from the bottom of the river.
Car tires fished out the bottom of the Vardar River in downtown Skopje will end up at the city ZOO as animal props. This is where the only good thing about this news ends.
The country competed many times in various achievements to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. Making a record number of fasting sarma (stuffed cabbage), making the largest pastrmajlija (bread and meat pie), but we are completely qualified to compete for a Guinness World record with amount of waste in the waters of river Vardar. We would hardly have anyone to compete against in that field. It is not that we will fish out the most cubic meters of waste or the most tires, but that we simply won’t stop littering. We will continue to litter, as long as the waters cover it.
Of course, the clean-up action involved professionals from aqua-clubs, divers, who walked safely across the river and removed tires. The action was organized by the informal group “Ne bidi gjubre”, and those most responsible, the city authorities, were informed as the rest of us, through social media.
Skopje Mayor Petre Shilegov’s official statement on how Vardar is being cleaned is that they take clean-up actions on a regular basis several times a year. Well, he also boasted that the section from Hrom to Karposh 4, which had been overgrown with trees whose branches reached the waters, was cleared last year. It’s nature, it gets what belongs to it, so if not this year, then next year the trees above Vardar will again reach the river, and except for the aesthetic, which will not look good to us, nothing bad is going to happen. The problem is that we uncontrollably rob nature, without any restraint, and wherever we go, what we leave behind is devastation.
“Something is Drifting on the Water” is a novel by Lajos Zilahy, which is about a woman’s body drifting in the water, carrying the body in its course. If we continue to throw everything we do not need into the waters of Vardar, or into the waters of Lake Ohrid where bathtubs, toilets, sinks, and even bags full of bath tile have been removed this past month, the water will turn around to take us, because we are not coming to our senses?
Vardar rises at Vrutok and passes 301 km to the border, and then turns into the river Axios. But whether we call it Vardar or Axios – it is still murky. However, I think that we too are murky.