That Thursday night we were sore from hiking, desperately trying to find another hotel we could splurge on just so we could take showers and rinse off all our sweat, but every hotel we punched into our GPS seemed to be nonexistant. I went to bed dirty, sticky, and still sweaty, as it’s very hot here in Croatia. Since we’d left Plitvice and had driven all they way down to the coastal town of Split, we arrived too late to even check into a campground. Once again, we pulled off to the side of the road and climbed into bed at the back of the RV. Only this time, we were at no country rest stop or abandoned construction site. We were right off the main road along the beach. It would be like pulling over on PCH somehwere between Santa Monica and Malibu. It had the mountainous and beachy scenery, but the traffic of a big city. All through the night, cars, buses and trucks whooshed by us, and we were so near the narrow roads that when they did, the whole RV would shake and continue to rock, waking me up every time. I maybe slept four hours that night, and not continuously. Did I mention the mosquitos? It was not a night to remember, but my bug bites remind me constantly. Rob was just as miserable and exhausted the next day.
We awoke feeling gross and hungry, but our appetites quickly subsided when we remembered how terrible Croatian food is. The night before, for dinner, we’d ordered risotto and four cheese gnocchi, two items that I’d thought were universally hard to mess up. Well, I was wrong. The risotto, which the waiter had assured me had no meat, was laden with chewy pieces of unidentifiable seafood and smelled very fishy. The gnocchi was bathing in a pale gravy ripe with gorgonzola. I like blue cheese, but it has to be delicately balanced with other cheeses in a sauce, otherwise its pungency overpowers everything. Sadly this was the case with our gnocchi. Feeling too awkward to return the food we’d just ordered, and not in the mood to deal with Croatian attitude, we just asked for to-go boxes, boxed our food up, and promptly threw it into the trash on our way to the eis stand. When all else fails, there’s eis.
The beach towns in the south have a completely different feeling than the country towns up north. I suppose that’s the way it is in the States, too. Split was more laid back, and the feeling of being watched eased up somewhat and Rob and I were continually astounded by how beautifully colorful and clear the water is on the coast. Rob really wanted to see the Roman aquaducts that were still in the city, so we went to the 1700 year old palace I mentioned earlier and toured around for a little bit. The basement was murky and cave-like, and I liked its damp smell. Above ground, the palace has been converted to a marketplace. Things are cheap, but even with the ratio of US dollar to Croatian kuna I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy.
My back is still killing me from that wakeboarding incident. I’m sure now that I’ve done something very wrong to it, possibly irrepairable. I am constantly reminded of my ex-boyfriend every time I sneeze, remembering how he had to sneeze with his back at a certain angle to accommodate the pain. I’d never really understood his lower back problems, though I’d given him massages when they helped him and tied his shoe laces on the days when pain was so bad that he couldn’t even bend over, or sit himself up in bed. He has two herniated discs. Could it be possible that I have herniated a disc? I really hope not. While Rob and I waited for the ferry that would take us in our RV to the island of Korcula, we found a WiFi spot where I began looking up back specialists in Naples and Rome, two of our next destinations. I’d rather not see a second world chiropractor in Croatia, and I think I can hold out ‘til then. The real challenge will be finding a doctor who speaks English fluently, as I don’t speak any Italian. I sound it out as well as Brad Pitt in “Inglourious Basterds”. Meanwhile, I take Rob’s life-changing ibuprophens.
The ferry ride was relaxing. The ship was very impressive, the classiest ferry I think I’ve ever ridden. It was a three hour ride, so Rob and I settled at a window table to watch the most recent two episodes of AMC’s “Breaking Bad”. I’ve never seen this show before, but it’s really good! Afterwards I took to some journaling, which prompted in me an unexpected burst of tears as I was writing about some family stuff going on back home. My parents and my littlest sister Kate are in the process of moving. Without getting into personal details, let’s just say that there are a lot of emotions going on because of this move. I’ve been wrestling with feeling guilty being on vacation while things back home are so tumultuous, and I miss being able to even talk with my siblings on the phone. Not to mention, I’m secretly a very sentimental person and I’m sad that they’re leaving the house I’ve considered home for the past eight years. No more going home to Colorado for Christmas, no more 4th of Julys in Telluride, or summer evenings walking along Pearl Street Mall. No more annual Christmas break catch-ups with my Boulder friends. Even though I left over seven years ago, I find myself grieving this move as if I’d lived there this whole time instead of in LA, where I move around almost yearly. My parent’s house in Longmont, CO has been my true home in the midst of all my fake LA homes. Of course, home is wherever my family is, but as my siblings get older and move away, home becomes increasingly spread out, and thinned out. I’ll miss the one-stop-visits-all trips I made on the holidays in Colorado. This is not the sort of thing I thought I’d be contemplating while I was on my European extravaganza. I allowed myself a good cry, felt a little better afterwards, and told myself to just enjoy this trip since I’m on it and can’t really do anything unless I go back to the States, where I couldn’t really do much more than I am out here.
The night before, after a hot shower, I chatted with my sister via Skype for a little while, saying hi to a few other friends, which comforted me and made me feel connected. I’m really not such an independent girl as people think I am.
Yesterday, Rob and I left our RV at the campground we’re staying at and rented a brand new Paggiati scooter. The woman managing the rental place said maybe we could bring it back at six, maybe at ten. Maybe she would be there to recieve it, maybe she wouldn’t be. I know it must be a cultural thing, but I’m really not sure how to respond when the Croatians go at it with their maybe’s. I wanted to ask her what her bottom line is: bring back the scooter at six or ten? I tried to, nicely, but she shrugged, smiled, and said maybe. And I thought people in Hollywood were flakey!
She asked Rob if he was a good driver, to which he replied an obvious yes, and as he drove it around the driveway to test it out, the woman said to me how every person says they’re a good driver, then most crash right into the cement wall on the side of the driveway. Right after I hopped on the back of the scooter, and Rob accelerated, he lurched straight towards the very wall the woman had talked about. He didn’t crash, but Rob confessed to me he hasn’t ridden a scooter or motorbike since he was about fifteen. I laughed (nervously) and told him what the woman had just told me. He got his bearings, though, and in no time we were flying on Korcula’s windy island roads. By flying, I mean we were able to go only up to 45 m.p.h., but it felt faster. Korcula is like like Martha’s Vineyard in its layout, only a lot hotter and classically Meditteranean. The smells here make me never want to exhale, for the scent of fragrant flowers and pine trees soaking in the sun is too intoxicating not to inhale at every second. It reminded me of riding on the back of a BMW with my dad through the flower fields of France and Belgium four years ago.
The world is better on a motorcycle. This is the thought that ran through my head as I smiled in the sunshine, watching azure waters lap against little white boats to my left and breathing in the trees to my right. Surely motorbike travel beats out all other kinds. The scenery is bigger, the view wider; the smells are more intense, the colors more vivid than from inside a car’s tinted windows. There is no air conditioning, only the wind whipping your hair and cooling your skin. Also, a scooter makes it a hell of a lot easier to navigate through cities, as Rob and I rejoyced in once we reached downtown Korcula. The roads here make Prague look spacious, and I wonder how it’s possible for even a Mini Cooper to fit into some of these driveways.
We are on a quest to find a fan, since our RV has no air conditioning in the living space, only in the driver’s cabin with the engine running. I don’t mind the heat so much, since at night it cools down enough to sleep, but poor Rob has been looking wilted and sapped! So far we haven’t been able to find a tea pot or a fan. Actually we found both, but they were both very overpriced, even in the Croatian kuna. I’m hoping it’s just island inflation and that when we’re back on the mainland, things will become cheaper. We may just have to suck it up, though. I cooked dinner in our RV last night, grilled cheese sandwiches with an egg the middle. They were tasty and filling, and I was comforted by the familiar scent of butter frying in a pan. No matter where you are in the world, that smell will always be the same.