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A Serbian cave hermit has received the coronavirus vaccination and urges others to do the same.
Before coronavirus came and forced the rule upon us all, Panta Petrovic, around 18 years ago, by choice, chose to self-isolate in a tiny Serbian mountain cave, away from the rest of Serbia’s population of Pirot.
Upon one of his rare visits into town last year, the 70-year-old discovered that a pandemic was occurring.
As soon as the Serbian cave hermit heard that vaccines were available for the virus, he got jabbed straight away and has been spreading the word for others to do the same.
Despite his secluded life, Petrovic told AFP how the virus ‘does not pick’: ‘It will come here to my cave, too.’
Petrovic’s home is situated on the Stara Planina mountain in southern Serbia and is only accessible via a steep climb. He spends summer living in a hut on a tree and winter in his cave.
Petrovic sleeps on some benches and a stack of hay and uses a rusty bathtub for a toilet.
The hermit is originally from the nearby Serbian town of Pirot. Petrovic used to work as a labourer on the black market both in Pirot and abroad for some time. He calls his life ‘hectic’, admitting he remarried on various occasions. He says he has six children with four different women.
However, Petrovic has always loved nature, telling AFP that it felt like a natural progression as he slowly isolated himself further and further away from society.
I was not free in this city. There is always someone in your way – you either argue with your wife, neighbours or the police.
Here, nobody is hassling me.
Petrovic lives on food that he finds around the mountain, such as mushrooms and fish from the local stream. However, he also hikes downtown to search bins for leftover food as well. He says how his visits to the town have become more frequent lately.
The hermit used to keep animals near the cave, however, wolves killed some of them. So the hermit had to move the ones left behind to a shack he had built on the outskirts of town.
Petrovic had around thirty dogs and cats, several goats and a flock of chickens. Three of the kitten’s mother was killed by the wolf and so Petrovic now has to feed them with a syringe. Although, his favourite animal was an adult wild board called Mara, who he found eight years ago as a piglet, caught in some bushes. However, he took her in and nursed her back to health.
Petrovic noted how Mara ‘meant everything’ to him, listened to him and is a ‘true pet’. He said: ‘There is no money that can buy such a thing.’
Petrovic receives welfare, however also relies on donations for supplies for the animals and food.
Before he decided to live in the cave, Petrovic made a house for the four women who mother his children and then donated every penny of the money left over from his time abroad, to his community. The money funded three small bridges being constructed in town.
He said he believes that money is ‘cursed’ and ‘spoils people’: ‘I think nothing can corrupt a human like money.’
Petrovic ‘doesn’t understand the fuss’ around people not wanting the jab, believing in the process that aims to get rid of diseases. He said how he wants to get not just two jabs, but the extra one as well: ‘I urge every citizen to get vaccinated, every single one of them.’
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The Straits Times
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