Friday, July 17, 2009

Split-ing headache, and some home comforts (sorry, this cafe is costing me a fortune so will not spell check this (have found out how to do it!))

Well, yes, we arrived in split, just two lifts, one from a wealthy oil man, another from a bristling but friendly book salesman, his car struggling up the hills around split and over the gorge of the wide waterway that is the Krca river, Croatia's main river, peering down from narrow cliff edges as we drove to the seaside resort. A day was spent, first congratulating ourselves on our enterprise in getting up from our illegal camping ground and away to our destination for 9am (and covering our tracks in a dust and flung gravel), we supermarketed ourselves (Konzum, i think is the word) and coffeed ourselves for less than a euro, hit the tourist information and the bureau de change (it was probably an honourable thing to make some attempt to spend money in the country) and then beheld the shiny stone streets of the old town and its heart, the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. Lugging our heavy sacs around, a day at the beach was prescribed by our own internal doctors, reading, lying, washing (it is fun if you haven't done so to wash in the sea, although you need a lot of soap - it felt very natural and reviving) we drifted back to the centre in the evening and grabbed a one litre bottle and sat talking, about the world and trying to look aloof among the tourist throng.
Night brough its firm hand down on the table of reality, no bed booked and none of our couchsurfing e-mails taking a bite on the night line we had left out, we grimly headed to the beach, coated in dust stuck onto our sweat. By the beach, atop a crab, i had spied an overgorwn garden crested with scented pines, a pleasant eerie whwere i had considered going for a 3 kuna saving pee while we had been bathing (i opted for a widdle in the sea in the end, my BNFL training informing that if sufficiently diluted effluent is okay to discharge in some small quantity anyway) we lay down in the metre high grass, and began a nightlong battle for sleep above the din of the cicadas bedlem and the nutty pop rave on the beach below. at 5, I had slept surprisingly well, kieran not a wink, so we went to the park where at 930 i awoke to the curious gaze of a batch of pigeons and an elderly man eating his breakfast on a bench. Guilty somehwat at my vagrancy (recalling a humbling momnent in zagreb where total failure to get a lift had me sitting on the edge of angry tears almost, or at least a dark mood, 6 hours of trying, resting, trying, resting, sitting with my card saying "Zadar" between my legs like a begging bowl, sitting like a beggar and hoping without even a trace of deferred gratitude, sullen and sapped), though not sure why, our wanderings brought us accross a mane named Ante, whose job seemed to be to sit in a cafe for his whole life and busk for passing wanderers like us to rent out his apartment (after some successful haggling, I did the talking, being the hard man, kieran did a friendly bobbing bow of pleading prayer at the crucial node of the haggle, we sliced 5 euros off the stay, a not bad 35 euros for two nights (each) including a kicthen shower and very nice crocheted bed linen.
The very pleasntest moment of the day was visiting Jagoda, a lady who was very good friends with my grandparents, through meeting with my globetrotting uncle bill, diseased but very much missed and often remembered. My parents too had come to visit Jagoda, and Bill also went to the delightful length of driving out with a car of supplied during the war. So I felt like an ambassador of goodwill and of renwing relationships, pratcically through the spritual medium of the ancestors, but also this Shaman desired his belly to be filled, and the flower eyed jagoda, with her classic blue and white striped dress, sun hat with red ribbon and emphatically engaging demanour was the perfect host. Seeing the eruptions of sweat on brow and garb, she offered me a bath, a towel, and tea and nap, so i washed my face and took some tea only, but then a spread materialised out of nothing and my belly (i keep telling myself that it is bloated, but i think really that it just my excuse for consuming inordinate amounts of bread and pate, along with the mantra "I never know when I will be able to eat next", a bit like Ray Mears and just as portly) was soon full. She then took me on a virtual tour of the city beginning with the emperor and his Tutenkhamun derived sphinxes arriving in the nestling Split, betwixt the east and west parts of the Empire, and told me of how unsusual to very many places, a town grew out of a palace.
That evening, our internet connection, Fiona (really Martina, she wants to change her name), appeared out of the guady masses and the opportune encounter we had with some lovely, bravado (or even brillado!) folk music that conjured up images of slavic talk in pubs and monumental drinking, song and some hefty chutzpah with some manly people with rolling rrr's and moonshine, she walked us around her Split, opening a door among the narrow streets that led into novel encounter in speakeasy style no nonsense alcohol emporium, empty, but perenially empty of tourists we intended to return. In the end, out walk took us to the beach, another one to the west, where we bought wine, noxious local herby spirit and the imfamous Rekjya (not sure of the spelling), soem reckless nigth swimming (the alcohol presumably kindling to gas as i imbibed it, preventing my demise) and breathless conversation in which i very much did sink, Fiona, actress, interesting and energetic in her speech leaving me behind in her wake, i remember some of the walk home but when i awoke in the morning it was a bit like arriving on a beach after a storm, and i examined the flotsam of my baked and bothered thoughts to see what was worth keeping and when it was best to move without disturbing the precariously dangerous spread wide glass in my head. Today i am feeling lonely, and a little scared by the imminent task of trekking sole (yes, dear reader, i am sad to say that my good companion is putting down roots here to take on the masterpiece of philosophical thought that is Being and Time by Heidegger (something that there not being time (!) for while always on the move) but then i am magnificently hungover (was a feelinfg blind this morning? No, that was the sun, but it was an interesting thought) and at least can relax and not get upto much, one more night chez kieran, then will take up jagoda of her offer of bed tomorrow, and then off to Balkans central - Mostar, Sarajevo and Belgrade. Tomorow i meet our other Split friend Janja, who will show me the gallery of the most famous croatian aritst metrovic. Pray for me (seriously actually, if that it your thing then do). Ciao for now and adiue, Alexander Supertramp


  1. "I did the talking, being the hard man, kieran did a friendly bobbing bow of pleading prayer at the crucial node of the haggle, we sliced 5 euros off the stay, a not bad 35 euros for two nights (each)"


  2. Thanks, am glad you liked it, I was probably chuckling as I wrote it, the hard man bit is a bit of a stretch perhaps, but then not after my footballing!