Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zadar zadar zadar, whatever will be will be free!?

Well yes, we did take the boat out to an island. First I met Kieran at the airport (while waiting in the sun terrace of the airport cafe, where long legged waitresses walked professionally and among the ragbag mixture of customers, I heard an english man say to his wife: "And then i must meet my Chinese associate...", as if in a john Le Carre novel!), noticing his medusa hairstyle from between the heads of the meeters and greeters, and we took the bus to town and sat at the bus station with the one litre bottle of Split red wine, bought for a proud one pound seventy! Through the streets to the harbour and the old part of town, standing on the lit up walkway over the harbour listening to a meek elfin busker, plucking her violin to some quite subtle and mournful music, we enjoyed our meeting and the headiness of the exotic location.
It was late and the boat brought us into Ugljan at around 1130, and tired and without accommodation we noticed a beautiful white house with rubble at its feet and builders materials, an obviously unfinished place, so we took the steps up to the uppermost terrace and, looking out towards the twinkling lights of Zadar about 5km away, we slept a grateful but uneasy 5 or 6 hours and awoke sweating ears ringing with the hyper shrill arguments of the cicadas. At this point i noticed my big toe had split, presumably in the humidor confinement of my daily trainer wearage, and the massive and motherly pharmacist down the road prescribed me spending a lot of money on assorted things which, a bit sun bothered, i grimly accepted - my feet after all quite important. A bus ride int eh direction of a place to camp took us to Preko, the island's main village, where I slept with a mad dog in the midday sun on a whiter than white bench, and we both took a dip in the cold bath of the crystal clear, glacier blue and swirling turquoise water. The water, the flora and the vista were truly like something out of heaven for me, rich in colour and a balm to the soul and the battered body.
Food had been consisting of a diet of a large loaf of bread, pate, fruit and the odd fish or lamb or chicken, coffee for a treat and the odd bottle of wine to appease the spirits. I think about three pounds fifty only per day on comestibles, and then perhaps one pound fifty on extra comestibles. Then with free accommodation nearly every night, and also free travel apart for the odd one - two pound bus, tram or ferry ride (save a singular large expense on a train, 25 pounds, from zagreb) and paying for museums, sun tan lotion, then the 65 pounds spent on tent (halved with kieran), we were living it cheap. Internet cafes took a hefty bite, and were my Writer's luxury, one to four euros for an hour! So, looking for the campsite, and in a way fleeing from the law, we found Camp Marijo, and on arrival the brilliantly kind lizard faced old man took from a plastic bottle int he communal fridge a colourless liquid and pouring it into two glasses bade us drink. Yoweee, was the cry, as surely %60 of rough but tasty alcohol was imbibed. A night in a cafe, a one hour clothes wash and bed, the next morning we arose and headed back to zadar.
And so we got set to hitch out, first taking a bus down the coast, then after only half an hours a life - faith in croatia restored! Where are you going, we asked.
"Pakistan!" he replied.
"Where?" kieran snorted.
The place turned out to be called Pakostan, and apart from being the home of an annoyingly angry dog, chased by an ancient peasant lady with a six feet long stick, we took turn as to fail to hitch a lift, the other sitting int he shade of a hoarding advertising the resort. Another peasant lady, bent double like the three women in Millet's The Gleaners, monumental in her archetypal role, bent into the position after many years in the mould of her daily necessities, and swallows bustled over our lame attempts to fashion a living and activity, of any sort. So we wandered into the woods and down to an enormous lake, pitched our tent, and once again helped ourself to a free slice of the Croatian night. Dobervech!

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