A MAN in Bosnia and Herzegovina who couldn't buy a house until he got his pension had to live in a cave and survive off food from dumpsters for 13 years.
That's the story of Zarko Hrgic, 68, who had to live in a small riverside cave outside the Bosnian town of Zenica.
The former steelworker moved to Germany more than 35 years ago after his marriage broke down but was deported back just 10 years later.
Zarko was found to have been working and staying in Germany illegally but upon returning to Bosnia, found 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 eventually ended up in a small mountainside cave on the bank of the Babina River.
The cave, which had once been used by miners to store explosives, was only meant to be a temporary fix but he ended up staying there for 16 years.
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However, despite the obvious downsides to living in a cave, Zarko claims there are many benefits to it as well.
In a video uploaded onto YouTube by Bosnian journalist Srećko Stipović in 2017, Zarko said: “People always find something to fight about, so it’s better to live alone."
However, Zarko was never truly alone as he shared his home with 13 stray dogs.
They provided him with company and he fed them with bones from the local butcher shop every day.
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The dogs would have also provided him with extra heat to stay warm, especially during the harsh winter months when temperatures would reach as low as -25C.
But Zarko surprisingly admitted that the thick stone walls of the cave provided excellent insulation from the outside weather.
Apparently the only time he had to light a fire was was when he needed to cook or brew coffee.
The cave would also be the perfect place to cool down in the hot summers away from the scorching sun, making it the perfect place for all weathers.
That is, of course, until it rained.
Due to the cave's close proximity to the river, it would flood really badly when there was heavy rainfall.
There was one specific time where Zarko had to scramble to save himself and the dogs before they drowned.
As a result, the 21st century caveman built a cardboard hut nearby where they could escape to should the river water rise.
Zarko's usual day would begin with a cigarette in the morning before walking into Zenica and heading for the dumpsters.
There, he would look for food and other items he can use, and would make this trip three times a day.
Luckily, there would always be something for him to eat.
If there was ever a bad day for the amount of food on offer, Zarko would buy himself some instead.
Using the money he made from chopping wood for the locals, he would have enough to ensure he would eat if it came to it.
At the time of the interview in 2017, Zarko was 62-years-old and three years away from claiming his pension.
He was set to get two – one from Bosnia and the other from Germany, where he lived and worked for 10 years.
Zarko's plan was to use them both to finally afford a proper home.
He claimed that he was in good health and could last another three years in the cave while he waited for his money to come though.
Six years later, however, and Zarko is living in a trailer.
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Srećko Stipović uploaded another video of Zarko to YouTube in March, which showed him with two dogs and covered in a quilt on his bed.
Zarko confirmed that he was thinking about leaving the trailer, as well as Zenica, to move on with his life.
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