Holy Thunderbolt!

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

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Throughout the day rain would move in and out making the streets oily and the air heavy with humidity. If you wore a jacket you became hot and sweaty and if you took it off you felt a slight chill and the fear of being rained on. This region of Croatia had steep mountains that ran down to a jagged rocky coastline. Trees jutted out from the rocky cliffs at odd angles and then grew thick as the rocks became less scarce and the mountains began to rise. The road wound through the coastal towns, which were situated about a half-mile apart from each other. Each town had a few resort hotels and small homes, and were highlighted by a small harbor crowded with multi colored boats bobbing in the water.

Our small apartment was on the second floor and contained a tiny kitchen, a room, bathroom, and a small balcony. The only difficulty was the door, which was almost impossible to open. In one embarrassing moment I had to get the landlady's attention first by small knocks then louder knocks and then I had to resort to yelling. "Help we are stuck inside" I begged. She responded," Oh this is a problem." Then we heard what was like a large mouse scrapping at the door and then it opened. I couldn't gauge from her stoic face whether she thought it was our lameness that couldn't open the door or if this was a reoccurring problem and other tenants had come to our same fate. As a tourist I am constantly plagued by paranoia that I am a problem and that I have some how brought shame to my country and to my host country by doing something stupid. Especially if what I am trying to do appears to be simple, like getting on a bus or opening a door. I could imagine the whole village giving a collective gasp,"Oh my God that hairy tourist sat in the chair of the Sacred Virgin!" Me looking up with complete ignorance and oblivion, and then wiggling my ass to get comfortable. This is what I dread.

The sky was alternating between grey, black, and blue as the clouds rapidly appeared and disappeared. Not knowing when the rain would come we picked the morning to walk along a seafront promenade that stretched from our town to the next, six kilometers in all. Our goal was two fold. First, there was not much else to do in the town and this seemed a comprehensible objective that would be entertaining and consume a lot of time. Second, the tourist office had promised us a playground at the end. A playground always generates a lot of excitement for the youngest member of the group. In completely foreign towns Collette can remember the direction of the nearest park and uses her outstretched index finger to remind you of it even if she has only been there once. At the same time this ability instills awe and irritation. If she has the intellectual capacity to remember where the playground is, then can't she also refrain from grabbing garbage of the street and putting it into her mouth and pooing somewhere else besides her pants?

We started on the stone path, which varied from cement to large cobblestones. The coastline reminded me of Monterey and Carmel with whitish gray rocks jutting out of the water to form small irregular cliffs. The path was about twenty feet above the water and we could see and hear the water gurgling and splashing into small coves and caves. In the deeper parts we could see through the clear turquoise water to large boulders slumbering at the base of the cliffs. In the deeper regions the water was a deep rich blue, which faded to a light turquoise in the shallows. We made it to both the playground and the next town on what was a beautiful and interesting walk. The other town was a bit of disappointment since it is known for its spas and medical treatment of all kinds. Germans that have reached a ripe enough age to seek treatments for various ailments real or imagined flock here. This town was rather listless and was clustered too closely with hotels and souvenir stands to offer much charm or grace. We ate some seafood pizza and boarded the bus, this time taking extra care not to overshoot our stop.

Another way to pass the time was sitting in a café that was at the beginning of the seafront promenade drinking cappuccinos or café lattes (my preference). The café had a strategic view of the sea, the small harbor, and the glittering lights of Rejeka in the distance. One evening we approached the end table near a couple that had a German Shepard resting at their feet. Upon our arrival and for no apparent reason the dog starting emitting a low deep growl. The kind usually followed by barred teeth and lunging. Unnerved, we nevertheless sat down. Luckily the couple left with their American hating mutt but from then on we called the place "Mad Dog Café" Not out of spite, but out of endearment like we had shared a dangerous adventure and this had brought us closer together.

One evening the rain began to splash against the windows and the wind picked up enough to hear it rustling the trees and blowing the shutters back and forth. We went to bed thinking about it no more until the low rumbling of thunder began to march across the valley and then bump against our windows and rattle the doors. Soon the lightening intensified and instantaneously a huge flash lit the sky and the thunder didn't rumble it exploded. It was one of the closest lighting strikes I have experienced and both Christy and I jumped with its suddenness and intensity. Collette strangely enough slept through the whole thing dreaming of petting dogs and eating ice cream.

At one point Christy was checking the Internet disasters and I was trying to contain Collette when I met an American from New York. He was friendly and we chatted like foreigners tend to do when they meet someone from their own country. He expressed some admiration for the bravado and ambition of our trip (perhaps because he was tied to a tour group and I detected he did not hold them in high regard since one of their members had been bitten by a dog in Dubrovnik and it sounded like a big fiasco). Later I did not think much about it but the next day I was walking below a restaurant when I heard my name being called out. I turned and it was Jake eating in a balcony above us. It was a very unnerving sensation to have your name called in such a foreign place that I did not even know how I responded. I hope it was intelligent and friendly because I enjoyed his companionship and appreciated his candor.

I liked and appreciated Lovran more after I left. At first we were confused on what to do. Most tourist towns give you clear and articulated goals and activities. Go to the cathedral, you must see the beach, hike to the big statue, and so on. In Lovran there was no such landmark or activity and it took awhile to adjust. That and the bad weather we hit took something away from the town but it was not indicative of the town itself.

The landlady did not speak much English but her son with longer rocker hair spoke it pretty well. While playing with his hair he gave us some great advice and we gobbled it down and made our plans accordingly. I also asked him about the soccer game and who had won. His look conveyed that soccer wasn't really his scene and no decent rocker would spend his time following it. Based on his word we boarded another bus for the town of Rovijn. Thanks dude, rock on.
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