IJM International Trip - Montenegro

Much like Argostoli, we sailed into Montenegro with the most beautiful view. Our ship was moving slowly through the waters, with endless mountains lining both sides for hours. After breakfast, the girls and I went to the top deck of the ship and watched as the country went by- it was mesmerizing. Instead of docking along a land-port, the ship anchored in the middle of the water and little boats came and brought us ashore.

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Our mission for the day was to find the base of the mountain and climb it. Easy, right? The twisty, narrow, maze-like layout of the town at the foot of the mountain made our mission difficult to begin; but, after a good 20 minutes of what my mom likes to call “taking the scenic route”, we found the base of the mountain trail and began climbing. On the way up, we followed a rock path that conveniently had stairs along the side that made it easy for the little ones to climb. The view on the way up was stunning. The composition was perfect with the towering mountains, clear blue waters, and clay colored roofs scattered about the town. We hiked all the way up to this little church that marked the halfway point to the top of the mountain. There, we were able to see a large part of the city and it was breathtaking. 

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The world really felt so big, and seeing it from up so high was an experience the girls and I will never forget. From our vantage point, a lot of questions came to mind, and I was filled with a new perspective. How many of our own mountains must we climb in our lifetime and what color will the rooftops of our past be? When we get to the top, will our questions be answered? What must it be like to look at our world from a different set of eyes? How do others perceive our life and how much does it matter? This trip not only gave me a way to fall even more in love with my sister queens, but also presented me with an even fresher, broader, perspective on life, it’s value, and how everything in the world comes full circle. International Junior Miss is changing lives in ways I don’t think they ever thought they would, by allowing their queens to travel and face the world head on and giving them all the tools they need to question, challenge, and create their own destinies. Standing at the top of the mountain with my International Teen banner draped across my back, I had never felt stronger.

Once we made our way down the mountain, we shopped for a little and made a stop for lunch. Because Montenegro is right along the water, seafood was a big staple in their menus, so much so that little Khloe just had to try shark for lunch and couldn’t contain her excitement when she saw that it was on the menu. Trying exotic foods like that was definitely new for Khloe, so all of us watched her in awe as she made up her mind and was determined to get the plate in front of her. Fallon saw that the restaurant also served duck, if you read our Athen’s blog, you know that Fallon devoured her duck, so she was really excited to see it made in Montenegro as well. Apparently the one in Athens was better though. Mrs. Nikki and Mrs. Jess also stopped by and ate lunch with us before they continued on back to the ship. Once again, all of us eating together was so much fun. There’s something about all of us gathering for meals, telling stories, and making memories that is so special and will forever have it’s own place in my heart. 

“I really liked climbing the mountain in Kotor and trying shark! I didn’t really like it but it was fun trying something new with my sister queens!”
-Khloe Noelke, 2017 Internationa Jr. Princess

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After lunch, Khloe and Ava couldn’t stop talking about the beach, so, after much deliberation, we managed to get two taxi drivers that were willing to take us to the beach, wait for us, and drive us back to the ship. Our driver was so kind. He had such a cool accent that we got to hear as he was telling about his island and all the wonderful things about it. The way he was describing all the different activities you could do made me really want to come back. He reminded us that there is so much more to explore than the one mountain we climbed- a lesson that can be applied to everything. There is always so much more that you can do, there is always something that you will never be able to do, but despite both, you should appreciate what you can and will accomplish. When we got to the beach, the sun was already setting and we were left to admire how beautiful and still the water was. Khloe and Ava tried their hardest to get some swimming in. On our way back to the ship, our driver told us more stories about Kotor and we watched the sunset whiz by from the mountains of Montenegro.

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Lessons Of The Day: 
- If you are going to do a physical activity, make sure you are prepared! Travel with at least one pair of every shoe- heels, sandals/slippers, sneakers. You’ll be set. 
- Don’t be lazy with your traveling! Get out early despite how easy it is to sleep in and relax. Do as much as you can without sacrificing the meaning of what you’re doing. The girls kept wanting to give up on the hike before we got to our endpoint and I continued to push them because we would never get another chance to hike that mountain together. Go all the way, push yourself. You will be thankful in the end. 
- Engage in conversation with your taxi drivers; they are real people with real, often intriguing, stories that give insight as to what life is like there. You’ll never see these people again, learn what you can in the time you have. 
- Watch the sunset. Watch the sunset. Watch the sunset.

Kotor, Montenegro was our second to last stop on the cruise, and our shortening time was definitely dawning us quickly. Montenegro was the most physically demanding port out of this trip because of that mountain, but I can’t express how rewarding it was to finally reach our stopping point and see how far we came. “Is that another entendre, Ariah?” Yes, yes it is. 

Everywhere you go, in everything you do, “spread love and choose happiness”;
Ariah Alba
2017 International Teen
 

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