Croatia

At last, I am writing.

How can it be that I have let this difficult notion of trying to master the difficult skills of drawing and painting get in the way of my writing. I have missed so many moments. Wanted to tell so many tales. I have noticed things that reminded me of the Fascine in Carnarvon, the Ancient Greek temples, Stonehenge, Carla’s boyfriend, so much more that is now lost and gone.

My recall of data and details has never been good. I live in the moment. I need to reflect and think by writing and through writing, recall and extract, formalise my thought. Only then are my thoughts complete and owned.

I perch on a plank of wood in Trogir harbour, the drift wood rests on a concrete ledge in the shade, tucked behind the ferry notice board. This spot is the closest I have seen to what might be a homeless persons drinking spot. Residual bottles by day and pieces of wood balancing on concrete blocks are the only signs that someone comes here. Yesterday a man sat here, drinking, I watched but did not intrude. The plank wobbles, unevenly perched on its breeze block.

As I said goodbye to my host this morning, at last I was brave enough to ask about war, 1990 she says quickly, just 45k down the coast and up the coast but thankfully not here, not here in Trogir. She looks down, says how much worse it was in Bosnia and how many young people, friends of hers, just 19, went to war and never came home. She talks about Theresa May, asks do I know she is going before moving on to Brexit and as I find so often, it is hard for her to understand how, when it appears the will of the people is to stay, yet the politicians insist that we leave. I try to explain about Split votes and party issues but am unable to make myself understood. There will be no going back she tells me, as if I, might make a difference. Europe will never have you back, she says, will never forgive you. What can I say.

Come back she says and I say maybe I will, but in the winter. No, she says, there is nothing here in the winter and I think, how wonderful.

Will I miss aeroplanes flying low overhead? They have been my constant companion from early morning until past midnight. They are less noisy than I might expect, and less intrusive. I think not.

Will I miss the cockroaches who tried to share my apartment with me, the moment I opened the door. I am pleased to have worked in Australia, cleaning away cockroaches, thousands of them, every week such that they hold no horrors for me. Insatiable appetite for reproduction. I would empty the cupboards, wash the dishes, find them hiding between stacked clean crockery, wipe them by the dozen with my dishcloth and rinse them in water. I scrambled for the dustpan and scooped a temporarily immobilised creature as it lay on its back, furiously scrabbling it’s legs trying to find hold. I had thought it a bunch of dark threads on the floor or petals from the blossom I have been painting. I touched it lightly with my finger only to wake the roach and cause this furious scrabbling of legs. Caught us both out of turn. As I set it to freedom outside the door,  I found the rest of its family trying to come stay with me.

How is it, that I might have thought drawing and painting might be my companion when it is words that I love. Where might I begin five days into my journey? It is now too late to record my last four days, I am not a retrospective writer, things belong in the moment.

The ferry queue grows, from my shaded plank, I predict that I will be forced to sit below, spaces taken aloft if I do not now move to get in the queue yet I choose not to stand in the sun and wait.

I must tell you of you misadventure, my disorder, the threats to have the police called on me. There are two ways to purchase bus tickets. In one way there is no need to punch your ticket but in the other way, it seems, one must. Clutching my ticket, I happily sat waiting while the ticket inspector moved along the bendy bus, checking and issuing fines. Twice I could have jumped off at stops. At any point until he reached me I could have punched my ticket, had I realised. None of that mattered. No, he said, you have not punched your ticket, you must pay.

In my pocket I fish out small change only, heading home after a day out, no notes. No, he could not take payment by the card I proffered, I must give him cash or he will call the police. I repeated the only offer I could make. He dialled numbers, or pretended to, several times. I sat calmly proffering my bank card, a twenty pound note or my change. I told him I have money in my room in Trogir, I have no more money on me. People around me muttered sympathetically but he would not move on his position. Eventually he moved on, continued his task. Bemused, I wondered what was going to happen.  My fine was 60 krona, around £7.50 so not an inordinate sum. A girl told me I was lucky I at least had a valid ticket.

I tried to decide whether I might eventually be let off but it was not to be.  Arriving at Trogir he escorted me to the ticket office where I tried to pay by card to no avail. This is a cash economy. Only in a one supermarket have I managed to buy anything by card. I was escorted down the street and taken to an ATM where I had to withdraw cash. He gave me a receipt and my ticket back. He told me I could use it again but next time make sure I stamp it. I shall keep it, unused, unstamped as a souvenir.

There are opportunities I recently discovered, to ‘volunteer’ as a journalist, you know, these holidays where actually you pay to volunteer but it intrigues me. Some are radio journalism and some written reporting. China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Argentina. I rather think I fancy the idea. Who knows where it could lead. 

Perhaps I might look at bank loans. Sitting on my roof terrace here makes me remember I would like to live somewhere else but i cannot bear the notion of property search and sale at the same time and could not sell my beloved house unless I has something equally rewarding to move into. I know, I know, rent, rent. My difficulty though is that the rental I can get does not match comparably with what I might need to pay to live in a similar space. I discovered that when attempting to live in Cornwall. The problems of the idle. I must look at Chekhov, I am told he frequently dealt with the problems of too much time on ones hands.

How is it ok that we seem to think we can flatten this earth and not suffer consequences. This a largely island coastline and everywhere, land is being reclaimed, built out and land edges strengthened against buffeting waves. Diggers and dozers dump piles of gravelly ‘not sand’ and spread it, rake it, cover imported rocks to make pretend, I suspect temporary beaches that might withstand a seasons storms before need replenishing.  Chop away the hillsides. Chew, spit, swallow.

I debate whether to wrap the last two slices of my garlic pizza bread and pop them in my bag. I think of Australian wood ants and suspect it not a good idea. I already carry a cut orange, half an apple and a small piece of cheese, intended for my lunch but the lure of shade and a toilet saw me buying lunch. I swear the garlic pizza bread was recycled (unlike anything else around here)! My portion comprised two individual slices then a large portion of six segments to complete an eight segment whole. The thickness of each crust differed and the broken edges of each piece as crispy as the others, unlike the edges when I freshly break a portion. I will leave them drying in the sun when I go.

Yesterday the busy Split harbour was somewhat unwelcome to me after sleepy Trogir but today is Saturday and three cruise ships sit in port. The place is heaving with bodies wearing coloured lanyards, each group suitably colour coded so as to be sure not to get lost.

I enjoy my small carry on size backpack, it needs careful thought to pack but beautifully manageable when walking and waiting. I have three hours. How wonderful to be sitting with words and not trying to draw. My lesson learned.

As I finish my food, I cannot wait to get back to writing. I want to save my words, need to save yet am afraid to do so for fear that I will lose them yet in the very act of not doing so veritably I am more at risk of losing them. How I miss my old blogger app. I learn. Perhaps that is the most important lesson in life, to learn. Time to move on.

2 thoughts on “Croatia”

  1. Love your blogs my dear friend …. this wonderful piece led me to others that you’d written that i’d missed out on and I have spent much of this afternoon catching up – you have a wonderful way with words that keeps me ‘engaged’ from start to finish – you should write a blinking book ! Love and best wishes as always xx

    1. Bless, thank you.
      I’ve just written another but sadly WordPress tells me the connection is insecure and I may not start a new post. For now, I am saving on my iPad. Later, I hope the WiFi connection from the router will allow me access where my phone hotspot won’t.

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