Thursday, May 27, 2004

"Basking Along The Adriatic Sea"
Hvar, Croatia (Dalmatian Region)
Thursday, May 27th, 2004

“Sea rovers here take joy.”


Island life here is leisurely and occasionally punctuated by moments of impulsive physical activity. Like walking, shopping, or eating. This is truly a magical island; our veranda opens out onto the scent of orange blossoms and a garden of roses and blooming geraniums and a stunning view of the sea. Poets have surely been inspired by these waters for millenia.

That which doesn't glitter or sparkle in the Adriatic shimmers in tones of sapphire, cobalt blue, and turquoise until it melts into a translucent jade where the sea meets the rocky shores. The water's surface ripples like a wet peacock's feathers ruffling itself in the wind and sun.

We rented a boat and hired a local Croatian named Matko whose parents have a lavender farm on the other side of the island. He and his girlfriend from Singapore sell sachets, soaps, and oils made of lavender during the summers, Christmas postcards in December (fittingly so, for what good would they do in July?) and bags of freshly popped popcorn in January.

As travel between the islands in his small fishing boat, he lulls the motor for a moment and finally turns it off. The sun is striking the surface of the water around us and illuminating the sea bottom below us. It is said that the water is so clear here that one could read fine newspaper print from the bottom of the sea. I have no doubt you could.

“Listen,” he tells us, “there are two important things in this life,” he counts on his fingers, “the first is peace and the second is your health. I travel many years and work in Northern Europe and I finally come back. I say 'no more!' I tear up my passport into sixteen different pieces. This is where I am happy. I live in paradise!” he laughs and gestures around us to the sky and sun. I have a boat, my dog, my girlfriend. I go fishing when I want to eat. I do not work, selling the lavender is pleasure for me. If I do not take pleasure from it, if it is work, then I do not do it.”

Mom and I smiled serenely, for how easy is it to relax in someone else's land and how difficult to feel peace inside ourselves when we work? There is much wisdom to be gleaned from island life.

We had lunch on a small island where the trees and prickly pear cacti and agave opened up before us onto a small vineyard. In the middle of nowhere came a group of people from Ireland, England, and Croatia. It's so surreal sometimes.

We drank fresh lemonade and sweet locally made white wine. I dined on a hot dish of fresh artichokes baked with fava beans, garlic, and olive oil while Mom and Matko shared a heaping bowl of octopus salad with fresh bits of apple, tomato, garlic, and olive oil. And of course, fresh crusty bread dipped in all the juicy sauces.

We arrived at 'home' last night feeling quite tired and grabbed food at the store to dine in bed. We snacked on slices of fresh pear, gouda cheese, salami, crusty bread, and Croatian cookies filled with ground walnuts and honey and read our books until midnight when a crescent moon rose over the dark surface of the Adriatic.

This afternoon we're taking a ferry, a bus, and a taxi boat to a small village on the island of Korcula. We'll be staying on a farm and vineyard for a couple of days. Perhaps we'll finally get some exercise schlepping our bags around public transport.

Hope you are all feeling some level of peace in your lives, it's always a daily challenge!

much love and dovidena!

Rachel and Karen