Croatian Happy Ending

16 August 2011

Split, Brac and Dubrovnik, Hrvatska

It’s a very famous place, with its Roman palace and nice boulevard with pretty palm trees, but there were so many tourists which almost matched the number of ships moving around the port. Maybe it’s a little intimidating for someone who could barely squeak from their voicebox, but it did not feel like Croatia.

All it took was a ferry to set things straight again. A cheap ferry to one of Croatia’s one thousand islands. Things became more familiar when grey green mountains that seemed to appear from out of nowhere. The water turned glassy clear again and there was no smell of oil as we pulled up to Otok Brac. I was free to go wherever I wanted, so I turned left off the boat and walked around the outskirts of the little town to the beach. A little cardboard sign dangling from a pine tree pointed me to a campsite. They took my valuable things and put them into a safe. I gave them what I remember to be a sinfully small handful of kuna and I lay down in my tent and wondered how far away I was from all the loud music and rakije. Instead there was a breeze and golden sunlight. It felt like Croatia again.

I spent the days on the white rock beach by myself–there wasn’t anyone else on the beach. The water was so clear you don’t really know you’re in the water until you feel your feet suddenly cool down. There was a sign that this would all change sometime soon. I could take a walk, albeit half an hour over broken roads, to a supermarket of all things–a Lidl. It felt out of place, but the humongous sandwiches I made did not at all, and I was happy to be in that transitional phase of the island’s development. The super tanned locals were still here for the meantime. They would sit under pagodas and play something that looked like Backgammon with shells and pebbles. Speaking of phases, the only reason I wore my watch was because I feel naked without it. It didn’t matter what time it was, per se, rather how much sunlight was left for me to do things. Everyday there would be a painfully long sunset with an enormous sun. With such a dramatic event everyday, it seems a little anticlimactic that the result is just complete darkness. I had no torch and there were no lights anywhere.

The supermarket may be one indicator of change, but another came every night at 2AM. I assume it wasn’t the local Croats who sit under the pagodas who were playing house music that shook the whole island. I never adapted and woke up every night, but this also could have been a sign of how uncomfortable I was in the tent. With no padding and no sleeping bag, only a sheet and one of those emergency blankets, I was warm but bruised in the morning. One night the music did not play, but that didn’t matter. The wind that night was so strong my whole tent was up in the air except for me holding it down by lying there.

Looking back on what I wrote in the journal, I’ve written that it would be nicer there with a girlfriend, and that it was nice to live by sunlight. Now that it’s almost 2014 what really emphasises how tranquil and nice this place was is the fact that I think I said a few sentences just once over half a week. So that’s a milestone in my life.

Dubrovnik

I met up with some Australians from home, and it was shit, looking back. Sort of. So I’m keeping it short. There was a few milestones. Experiencing pepper spray that someone found was one of them. Jumping off cliffs was another. Being really unoriginal I also did that thing where you get really drunk.

Drunk almost feels like an understatement. It’s that drunkenness that everyone jokes about. “I can’t remember anything!” they say, but I really can’t believe that has happened to that many people, so I decided to give it a go myself. I blacked out after sneaking into a bar which had unlimited drinks for free, and woke up again on top of a staircase, fell down, landed on my head. Woke up again throwing up into a fountain. Woke up again with bruises and bleeding a bit in a ditch on the side of the road. I can’t remember how I made it back to the apartment, but apparently I did because the Aussies woke me up by pepper spray. I tried to move but just knocked over the baseball bat I was lying with, which I wished I recognised but I didn’t.

My dehydration was so bad that I couldn’t really work my muscles to bring food to my mouth. But again by the miracle of the human body, my brain still worked, and I made one of the best decisions of the whole year to go to a country that you’d think is in the Middle East. Someone else was interested, so we booked a bus to Bosnia.

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