To the Beach... Finally

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Apartmani Sulic

Flag of Croatia  , Hvar Island,
Friday, September 9, 2011

Day One:
The ferry from Split to Hvar City took just over an hour, leaving us a good chunk of the afternoon to enjoy the island. We'd been looking forward to this part of the trip since Istanbul, saving the beach for the end so that we could lounge and relax after the weeks on the road. Unfortunately, by the time we'd sorted out our accommodation and had lunch, it was after 4:00pm, so our beach options were limited to those in town.

We walked over to the beach near our new apartment, opting to sit on the rocks since the main beach area was so congested. My toe had been high and dry for a full eight days, well longer than the doctor had insisted, so I figured it was fair enough to give it a little soak in the Adriatic and test it out. It seemed okay, so I sat back on my towel, content to spend the rest of the afternoon snoozing and reading in the late afternoon sun. 

Our apartment was fully-stocked, and we fully intended to take advantage of it -- avoiding more pizza and pasta meals by cooking our own instead. To that end, we hit up the town grocery store, where we spent a good hour wandering the aisles, drooling over the different options and the variety of beer and wine. We loaded up and enjoyed an evening at home, savoring our homemade Mexican food and the beautiful view from our apartment's balcony.
Day Two:
There was loads to do around Hvar, and we intended to take full advantage of the opportunities: we could rent a motorbike and drive around the island, we could rent a boat and chug out to the nearby Pakleni Islands, or we could get on one of the motorboats ferrying people over to the islands for a small fee. On our second day in Hvar, we opted for the last option and took a boat over to Marinkovac, one of the Pakleni Islands. The beach where we landed wasn't the most beautiful we'd seen, so we hiked the short distance over to the other side of the island and set ourselves up on the beach there. The water was impossibly clear and, surprisingly, not too cold for us. Our afternoon was taken up reading and splashing around in the crystal waters off Marinkovac -- exactly what we had envisioned for the last week of our trip. We again spent the night at home, preferring to cook our own meals and watch some of the 9/11 specials every station seemed to be showing.
Day Three: 
Sunday was the ten year anniversary of 9/11, and the beginning of an awful period for us -- but we didn't know that as we began the day at 8:00am, making sandwiches and packing up for the day's boat trip. After returning from Marinkovac the previous evening, we checked out the boat rental options in Hvar and made plans to hire one for the day. We hooked ourselves up with a 5hp boat for just 350kn (a little over $50). Konrad got a short tutorial, and then it was off to the open seas for us!
Based on the advice we'd received, it seemed the smartest approach was to begin the day by cruising around the outside of the last of the Pakleni Islands. The going was extremely rocky in our little boat, and I became convinced we were going to tip. Fortunately, we didn't -- we made it around the first island, and then continued chugging towards the others, clinging to the shoreline as we went. We stopped near the same beach we'd lazed at the day before and, once we realized that it was probably the calmest spot we'd seen so far, we dropped anchor. Konrad jumped in the water and swam while I contented myself on board devouring my latest Michael Connelly page turner. Our boat was small and didn't have a ladder, which I worried would make it very difficult to climb back in without tipping, so I decided to stay on board for the time being.
After mooring in that spot for an hour or so, we motored off to the next big beach on one of the other islands. We repeated our routine here, but after much encouragement from Konrad and assurance that I wouldn't tip the boat, I decided to jump in. It turned out he was right about me not tipping the boat over; what he failed to predict was how difficult it would be for me to get back in the boat without a ladder. 
We continued this pattern of boating, anchoring, swimming, and reading a number of times throughout the afternoon, eventually returning to the same spot we'd visited in the morning and spending the rest of the day there. We pulled back into the harbor at Hvar around 6-6:30pm and then went to look at motorbike rentals for the next day. We were tempted to rent one on the spot, but somehow had the amazing foresight to wait to do that until the next morning. We instead hit the grocery store again, opting to make our own dinner and spend the night on our lovely balcony.

I was still awake when I got the message that destroyed everything just before midnight. The person watching Diego wrote to say that she hadn't been home since the previous morning and couldn't find Diegs anywhere. She said she'd torn the house apart, but hadn't had any luck locating him. My heart started racing and I began to worry, but hoped that somehow he was in his secret hiding place. After exchanging a few messages with her, I had to face the fact that that was improbable and knew that I needed to wake Konrad and share the news with him. 
The rest of the night passed in phone calls, text messages, tears, and torment. All we could do was give instructions and ideas to Neysa, hoping that she would be able to sort out what had happened and where he was. At 3:00am, with nothing left to do, we finally tried to get some sleep, hoping that there would be better news in the morning.

Day Four:
Sleep was a long time coming and a short time lasting. I was up at 7:00am, unable to keep my eyes closed, just fretting about poor Diegs. We spent the day feeling sick with worry, emailing as many vets and friends as possible, basically trying to do anything we could to help from afar. We were now faced with a huge dilemma: stay or go? We were torn and really didn't know what the best course of action would be, but by the time we'd gone through all our contacts, it was too late to fly back that day; the best we could do was call the airline office and ask about changing our tickets. 

Promising news came in that evening: Diegs had been spotted around the neighborhood by a number of people. It eventually came to light that some women had put him in their garden, so the massive search party that was looking for him made a beeline for their shop and we crossed as many appendages as possible. We were on the phone with one of our friends while they combed the garden and heard the cries when they thought they'd found him -- alas, it was another cat who looked similar (I can attest to the fact that there are tons of cats in our neighborhood who look like Diegs) and not our little guy. They didn't have any luck that night, but it seemed like there was reason to be positive after talking to many people who'd seen him. We decided to get the 7:45am ferry the following day and check in on their progress once we'd reached the mainland. We went to bed feeling a million times more positive than we had all day.
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