FOLLOWING THE TRAIL OF MATHIAS SANDROF – AN ADVENTURE QUEST
Okay, it wasn’t exactly the way Jules Verne described it in his novel -- although we didn’t take the underground passages of the Pazin Abyss to reach the Lim Fjord and Rovinj, we did use the widest array of transportation in true Jules Verne style: In Pazin we boarded a train which took us to Kanfanar, and then we continued on foot below the ruins of the Kašteljir hill-fort to the old source of the Perilo, and again further along the shady path to the bottom of the valley. From here, up to Dvigrad, the trail was a bit sunnier.
At the foot of Dvigrad, having stopped for a break and refreshments, each of us mounted a bike for the next 9 km leg and we took a pleasant ride down the dirt road to Lim. Arriving at Lim, we regrouped and around noon we boarded a boat which, some 30 minutes later, set us ashore near the Pirate Caves at the mouth of the Lim Fjord for lunch. After eating, we again set off by boat to an island located exactly in front of Rovinj. There was just enough time left for us to have a cup of coffee and ice cream in Rovinj, before boarding the bus at 5:00 PM that would take us back to Pazin.
But, this really wasn’t an ordinary outing, and here’s why:
Jules Verne in his novel describes Mathis Sandorf being carried by the flooded waters of the Pazinčica River through underground passages and finally seeing the light of day some five hours later in the Lim Fjord. Long ago, this story was passed from one generation on to another, until it was recorded by the French travel-writer Charles Yriarte, from whom it was taken by Jules Verne. Back in 1934 experiments were made by marking and tracking eels (Sella), which proved that the Pazin Abyss is connected with the springs in the Raša Valley. Later tests used dyed water confirmed these findings.
The researcher Mirko Malez, however, whose 1967 studies of the Pazin Abyss produced the best and most accurate plan, as well as the most detailed description of the abyss up to date, still stands by the theory that the waters of the Pazinčica flow into the Lim Fjord, especially when the water table is high. And this despite his knowing about the experiments with the eels. His theory is backed by personal experience. Namely in the 1960s during one of the times the Pazin Abyss was obstructed, Malez witnessed the sudden expulsion of muddy water, under pressure, from the springs at the beginning of the fjord, and he recorded a full three meter rise in the level of the water, which caused damage to the local mussel farms.
During our trips in previous years, we managed to locate several fresh water springs along the shore from the Fjord Restaurant up to the Marimirna mussel farms. In the narrow crevice of one of the springs, we even saw a part of an old wooden table with one leg still attached trying to repeat Sandorf’s feat and break out into the light of day, but held back by the rocks.
We also spoke to some fishermen, but they had never seen the waters of the springs in the Lim Fjord to be the colour of white coffee, specific of the time the Pazin Abyss was flooded.
As we wanted to continue our research this year as well, Eugen, Sebastijan and Valter of the Speleological Society of Istria brought along special equipment. Unfortunately, high tide prevented our research, and so we decided to put it off for another time.
Povratak na Dane Julesa Vernea * Dani Julesa Vernea 2004.
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