Marco Polo Lived Here

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 29, 2006

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Monday, September 25, 2006

During the short ferry from Orebic to Korcula we met a nice American couple and went through a rapid-fire discussion that is similar to a game show conversation. So what do you do? Where are you from? I know somebody from there. Once this is finished then we start fishing for travel info. Is this place nice? What time does the ferry leave from there? Does that bus run on Sunday? What weird things have made you wait in some terminal/dock/bus station for two hours?

During this time Collette was systematically laying on each different cushion in the boat until it started to rock some more. Then she just lied on one, and for once in her short life, she was still. Collette gets a little seasick and has explained it to us that "the boat makes me feel dizzy because its bumpy" and "the boat makes me feel icky". We first discovered this on the way back from Dubrovnik1. When we were absolutely stuffed into a small boat full of Germans, French, Croats, and Italians and everybody had a least one camera on them. We rounded a small island and the open ocean swells started to hit. Collette suddenly got still on my lap and Christy whipped out a plastic bag and started to explain to me the logistics of getting Collette's barf into it. I politely declined the offer2. I positioned Collette so her head was as close to the railing as possible and hoped for the best. Forty minutes later and the crisis was over and Collette stopped acting and looking like she was drugged.

So we arrived on the Island of Korcula, bid farewell to our American "friends" 3. and were pleasantly surprised. The island was similar to Dubrovnik, in that both were circular walled cites built on a peninsula, but Korcula was a lot smaller and not as many tourists. Sometimes too many tourists act like nursing puppies around a major attraction by constantly trying to push pass each other to get a good spot. We broke out the map and armed with some info from the very friendly info center we headed along the waterfront away from the town. The waterfront was lined with two to three story buildings that looked out onto a shallow bay. Stopping just before the yellow house as we were told we found our apartment and Dora, our host. She was one of those types of elderly ladies that when she talks it always sounds like she is yelling and giving advice. "You come in now". "You take this room, OK". We chose the bottom room with a beautiful view of the bay and the town, took out our stuff, and then Collette quickly made a huge mess. Collette was given a small bed of dubious construction from the neighbors and then Dora gave us explicit directions, "Don't sit on the bed, it is made by Italians, I also don't like the bed you have, next season I will get rid of" . In the first fifteen minutes Christy sat on Collette's bed twice and broke two slats. They were broken before and Dora shouted while hunching her shoulders and raising her hands, "What can you do? These things happen, it's no tragedy" Then she turned to pinch Collette's cheek and make funny noises.

We spent our 4 days in Korcula wandering through the narrow streets, eating ice cream, 4 and sitting in Internet cafes getting bad news from home. The city was modest in size and we spent several times taking the ten minute walk around the circumference of the city trying to get Collette to sleep. One evening we stopped along this route and had pizza in one of the restaurants perched on top of the city walls. Several paths lead down to the rocky shore for the occasional swimmer and we could watch the sailboats, ferries and yachts come slowly into the busy harbor. The city was built on a mound with a church in the center at the highest point. The interior was crisscrossed with narrow high lanes, which were purposely designed to be crooked to block the wind It's as they dropped a bowl of spaghetti on the ground and then made it their road map for the city. The city's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Marco Polo. The sign at the bottom clearly said that it had been burnt down several times and rebuilt. But what are you going to do? Not see the birthplace of Marco Polo when you walk right by it? We paid our 10 kunas to the bored smoking teenager and did a crouch/walk up the stone stairs to the top of the little square tower. It was crowded with four French women and Collette did her best to hide from their attention but we did have a nice view of the city and the mainland where we had just come from.

About four houses down from ours was a large three-story villa lined with statues. This turned out to be a nunnery. Nuns always intimidated me for some unknown reason that I can't explain. Maybe that they seemed preoccupied by "death stuff" or my general distrust of anybody who has to dress a particular way to demonstrate their convictions. Or perhaps it was because of my mom. If she has a glass of wine in her and Catholics are mentioned in any way she will launch into a blistering monolog about the darker side of nuns and Catholic school. A more rational explanation is my basic unfamiliarity with them and fear of the unknown. However as we watched their comings and goings they appeared to be chatting happily enough and running errands much like everybody else. My fear abated somewhat but I still stared at them as they strolled on by, especially the young ones which are particularly rare in the US and therefore a novelty.

Swimming was a big activity and we had a narrow rocky beach just below our apartment. The little beach was close and Collette could play in the little patches of garbage that washed onto the shore. One time she was kind enough to bring an old rope back with us. On another occasion we became ambitious and walked down the road past several coves to find a nice concrete slab and finger of a beach to do our daily swim. Collette was fascinated with the crabs and after I told her of the dangers of sea urchins she became very concerned for my safety pointing out that "Those things are pokey; they will poke you". Her concern lasted as long as she realized that I would let her push me into the water. With glee on her face and no concern for the underwater "pokey things" she pushed me with equal earnest and fury. At least she did not pee on my beach towel like a drunken clubbing English girl like she did in Orebic. Sometimes I liken her to a seagull because they have the following behaviors in common; 1) They eat through wrappers to get at the food. 2) They sift through garbage for food and recreation 3) They unexpectedly get excrement onto your stuff.

We enjoyed our time in Korcula, except for an occasional travel spat. I pouted through an entire dinner that didn't have anything on the menu I wanted and firmly believed was too expensive. I was putting so much effort into my pouting that I didn't realize that I had only ordered an appetizer. So leaving, grumpy and hungry, I was not only pouty but equally sarcastic. No fault of Korcula that I was acting like my daughter because it was a beautiful city with a relaxing and exciting air about it. Two contradictory terms that go surprisingly well together.

Our departure was scheduled for a startling 6:00 am. Waking at 5:00 Collette was surprisingly in good humor and after getting our clown train of luggage together we set out toward the travel agency to find where the boat was. The weather was threatening rain and clouds quickly passed overhead looking like cotton streaked with charcoal. At this time in the morning there are few sounds and the ones that emerge, like that of a passing taxi, sound stifled. It felt like the world was less populated and we walked down the street with the wheels of our luggage on the cobblestones as the only sounds. We eventually began to see other figures moving in the same direction. We assumed that this was the direction of the ferry and joined the ebb of people. It looked liked a cheap horror film where all the zombies move to an unspoken command to some central place of unspeakable evil. Our lack of luster and quietness was not because we were zombies but because we were just tired.

I think we have covered most forms of travel except for the more esoteric ones like; zeppelin, elephant, and dog sled. On this ferry we happened to cover the hydrofoil and the journey passed like a dream. I use this description carefully because it was quiet, fast, and the only sensation of speed was achieved by looking out the window. Within fifteen minutes 80% of the boat was fast asleep including myself and the little blonde hurricane. Ciao to Korcula and on to another island in the Croatian chain on what Collette would later classify as a "fast boat, dada that's a really fast boat". And it was.

1. Before continuing read previous log entry and then post a comment.
2. Not politely at all. Collette was going to barf on me and the Italian lady next to me and the bag was a stupid idea. Really stupid.
3. Anybody you talk to for more than ten minutes to from your home country is declared a friend.
4. See video evidence.
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