A MAN in Bosnia and Herzegovina who was unable to buy a house until he received his pension was forced to live in a cave and subsist on food from dumpsters for 13 years.
This is the story of Zarko Hrgic, 68, who was forced to live in a small cave on the riverbank outside the Bosnian town of Zenica.
The former steelworker moved to Germany more than 35 years ago after a failed marriage, but was deported again just ten years later.
It was discovered that Zarko had been working and staying in Germany illegally. However, upon his return to Bosnia he discovered that his apartment had been destroyed during the Bosnian War.
Zarko had no savings in his bank and no one to turn to, so he ended up in a small mountain cave on the banks of the Babina River.
The cave, once used by miners to store explosives, was only intended as a temporary solution, but he ended up staying there for 16 years.
But despite the obvious disadvantages of living in a cave, Zarko says there are also many advantages.
In a video uploaded to YouTube Zarko was told by Bosnian journalist Srećko Stipović in 2017: “People always find something to argue about, so it’s better to live alone.”
However, Zarko was never truly alone as he shared his home with 13 stray dogs.
They kept him company and he fed them bones from the local butcher shop every day.
The dogs would also have provided him with extra heat to stay warm, especially during the harsh winter months when temperatures would drop as low as -25°C.
But surprisingly, Zarko admitted that the cave’s thick stone walls provided excellent insulation from the outside weather.
Apparently he only had to light a fire when he needed to cook or make coffee.
The cave would also be the perfect place to cool off from the scorching sun during the hot summers, making it a perfect spot for any weather.
Of course this went on until it rained.
Due to the cave’s close proximity to the river, severe flooding occurred during heavy rains.
There was a certain time when Zarko had to save himself and the dogs before they drowned.
So 21st century cavemen built a cardboard hut nearby where they could take refuge if the river waters rose.
Zarko’s usual day began with a cigarette in the morning before heading to Zenica and heading to the dumpsters.
There he looked for food and other items that he could use and made this trip three times a day.
Luckily there was always something to eat for him.
If there was ever a bad day because of the amount of food on offer, Zarko would buy some instead.
With the money he made chopping wood for the locals, he would have enough to eat in an emergency.
At the time of the interview in 2017, Zarko was 62 years old and three years away from claiming his pension.
He was supposed to get two – one from Bosnia and one from Germany, where he lived and worked for ten years.
Zarko’s plan was to use both to finally afford a real home.
However, he claimed he was in good health and could endure another three years in the cave while he waited for his money.
However, six years later, Zarko is living in a trailer.
Srećko Stipovic uploaded another video of Zarko to YouTube in Marchthat showed him on his bed with two dogs and wrapped in a blanket.
Zarko confirmed that he was thinking about leaving the trailer and also Zenica to move on with his life.