Impressions of the Floating Man – Polkadot conference by Thomas D. Walls

Liberland events are always an adventure. As I write from the ship Liberty moored on the shore of Croatia, just north of the Liberland border, events and circumstances are evolving daily. I arrived in Belgrade on Thursday the 4th and met with other Liberlanders at the airport. We made the short drive through Vojvodina. 

Driving through small towns such as Zmajevo, we stopped for a photo op at the Monument to Fallen Fighters erected in the 1950s and going through the curiously named Despotovo. Our final destination was the Liberland Ark Village just north of Apatin for the Floating Man / Polkadot conference. Apatin is a formerly majority-German town on the Danube and has been the place where Liberland has docked its ships and boats. And Ark, formerly “Zelena Glava” (Green Head) is a beautiful resort-type property that I always look forward to coming to. It has great, helpful staff and plenty of room to run around to your heart’s content in natural beauty.

Due to jet lag from an overnight flight and staying up late the previous night to pack, I had to miss the first segment of the conference. The speakers were of very high caliber and included Liberland government officials as well as special guests.

I spoke to the group about Liberland’s unique position in the world and improving our foreign relations – including our successes and challenges. One of the most vital questions about Liberland is access and occupation of the land – something that was not possible until now. Derek and Thomas gave excellent presentations on organization and marketing.

In addition to the beautiful three-storey main house, where most of the conferences, meals and parties take place, there are plenty of great amenities at Ark Village. I took out the Visit Liberland canoe on the lake and one of the camp dogs decided to join me in the canoe halfway through my excursion. Later I asked our staff who the dog belonged to and they said he belonged to me. I decided to name him Pasko (“pas” is Serbian for dog, and “Pasko” is Tagalog for Christmas). Pasko accompanied Chief of Staff Petr and me on a 3 km morning jog. First Lady Jana led a yoga session in the morning sun which was incredibly relaxing.

There is also beach volleyball, where locals bring their youth to play as well as a playground for kids and kids at heart. Vendors selling food and drinks were also on hand to complement Ark offerings. One day a group of five Serbian guys showed up because they heard about Liberland and Ark Village and wanted to check it out. I gave them an introduction to Liberland and Ark. They ended up making an amazing fresh fish stew and invited me to play soccer with them on our football field. My side lost 5-3 and I got a bruised knee and a sore heel, but it was really fun. I won’t reveal how long it’s been since I’ve played anything even resembling soccer, but let’s just say decades.

A special visit was made to the old pump house behind Ark Village. Built around 300 years ago under Habsburg reformer Maria-Theresa to regulate the water level in canals and possibly provide irrigation, the building is now in ruins. It looks like the setting of a late ’60s or early ’70s Eurohorror movie, with bottomless wells, creaky rafters and a tall chimney overgrown with vines. Last year I took photographs and even made an NFT of one of them.

After the main part of the conference we enjoyed more activities at Ark Village, had a night out in Sombor at Gradska Kafana. Sombor is a fairly large town with plenty of great restaurants and sights. Ravansgrad Brewery provides beer for our events and for the Liberland settlement. Restaurant Slon (Elephant) is a great place for excellent Serbian food. One place I wanted to see is the Red Army cemetery in Sombor – maybe I’ll still get to do that before I leave. I’m obsessed with the post-World War II monuments (spomeniks) that are scattered about former Yugoslavia. I’ve even contributed some information to the Spomenik Database about the nearby Battle of Batina Museum, which looks like a huge samurai hat facing the town of Batina, Croatia across the river.

Setting foot in Liberland – the European Amazon

Over the course of a week following the conference, I went into Liberland no less than 8 times. It’s been a lot of work: driving settlers, visitors and equipment, long border waits, dealing with constant checks by the border police, delegating tasks to work crews, clearing the settlement area, setting up open tents, excavating the old hunting lodge, collecting the loose bricks, cooking, cleaning the Liberty and the camp, reporting and much more. The work is ongoing and it will be tough going for a while. But we’re finally there. It’s really a dream come true to set foot in Liberland. 

My second dream was to bike in Liberland. Last year, I biked Gornje Podunavlje Reserve just north of Ark Village, which was a small taste of things to come. This past week, I took several rides in Liberland including down to the southern tip, where our cemetery is located. We do have plans to preserve a good bit of the nature there. There’s plenty of wildlife, including huge deer, wild hogs and much more. It would be a damned shame to see it turn into concrete. I am very happy that we remain committed to creating a Liberland that preserves the natural beauty of this region of the Danube.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *