We embarked upon a short hike at dusk in the High Tatras Mountains to a symbolic cemetery. A colorful cross and a plaque represent each person who has fallen victim to mountains by avalanche, accident or plane crash.
We continued hiking through the dark to Popradske Pleso, one of a number of glacial lakes in the mountainous region. The lake provides an enormous vista to the sunset and moonrise over the mountains. The rich ember red following the sunset and the rainbow hue swirling around the moon tucked just behind the back-light mountains provided a truly spiritual experience.
More images from the High Tatras
The residents are victims of communism, those who could not adjust or adapt to the new capitalist system, leaving many homeless, destitute and drug addicted. The facility, which also serves as a local catholic parish office, is completely run by the residents. To maintain their stay at the facility they must remain free of drugs and alcohol and work to care for the facilities farms, animals, fields or handicapped people. Men and women who found themselves jobless or skill less after the fall of communism begin to have purpose by constructing the facility in which they live and work. All of the building materials used at the facility are either found or donated. They are used according to their shape and size, there are no rules, except that the materials must be used for a purpose to improve the facility. Many long-term members of the commune have, over time built a strong community in which they have decide to stay and raise families and be a support network for others. The home at the foot of the Tatras Mountains provides a vital social service that the government cannot.