Monday, 22 October 2007

STEPH Brela to Tupeci 19/10/07

Wild and magnificent!

Within moments of falling asleep last night to the lap of little waves on the pebbly shore, the silvery half moon lighting the sky above, I woke to the pat pat patter of raindrops on the tent. They were beautiful, really.

Although the shape of the tent was far from ideal. No thanks to Outer Limits, who have included the crappiest tent pegs in Christendom in their otherwise fine product. I listened in the dark-light to the sweet pat pat of the rain, keeping a weathered eye on the saggy bit near the foot of my sleeping bag.

Then lightning flashed white and brilliant. I counted the seconds. Eight.
Thunder rolled around and around the bay. I weighed my options- wetness or relative dryness even if that meant sitting up all night – and settled on affirmative action, packing everything into waterproof bags, including me into Gore-tex raingear. Another round of thunder. Out I went into the watery night, seeking alternative shelter.

And there, right behind us on Brela’s wonderful promenade, were change sheds, half dry. I grabbed the pack from the tent, laid out my blow up mattress on the concrete floor, wriggled into my sleeping bag and there I spent the night, waking often to watch the storm blow the bay and Ben’s tent, billowing madness both. It was better than a plane seat, which was good enough for me.

Needless to say we woke early and were on the road before the sun ceased colouring the dawn. And there we met Boreus, God of the North Wind! Now, we thought we tasted the bora winds yesterday – that icy chill in Omis was nothing to the blow you down roar that rolled us along the highway to Maskarska today. No wonder the trees around here grow at 45 degrees. This is a lock up your children wind. This is a turn around with your pack on your back and it’ll throw you over the wall wind.

This is a wind that plucks the rigging on the boats moored in the marina, playing them like a harp.

For the first time today I shared spontaneous laughter with locals, entertained by the turtleback strangers doing their best to remain upright with almighty Boreus blowing in their faces.

We walked around the coastline, great gusts of wind challenging us to stay on the roadside, occasionally forcing us to hang onto railings for support; the road high above toybox towns beachside, way down below. Every town the same, a cluster of creamy-white walls and red roofs with one clock tower, or bell tower, depending on priorities in the moment, rising above.

It was entertaining . . . although we are wondering how long Boreus likes to hang around . . .

And now we’re chasing apparitions, turning away from the coast and heading over the spotted mountains to Medugorje, Mary country. A small detour on our way to Dubrovnik. We have bread and cheese, chocolate and mandarins – there are few settlements between here and there, although at least one overpass, which experience has taught Ben will make great shelter comes a rainy, windy night.

We walk up the mountainside, into thinner traffic with three times as many honks of encouragement from motorists. Aha! We reckon they are used to people making the pilgrimage to Mary, which Ivan has told us is the third most visited shrine to Our Lady in Christian lands. And even though we smile about starring in the honk if you love Mary show, I am deeply touched. I am neither Catholic nor religious, yet I am humbled by the recognition of fellow travelers who know that we also walk for them.

Consciously or not, my pilgrimage has led me here . . .

At the top of the highest mountain we spy smoke pouring from an oven in a restaurant built from the mountain itself. Heaven! Ben has finally arrived in time for his pig on spit. We enter the restaurant on sundown, the sun a dying blaze of yellow. Ben makes a great show of admiring the oven and its sizzling supper.

We glance over menus, Ben scouring for his roast . . . only to discover, once we all make sense of each other, that it’s their dinner and it’s chicken and it’s not on the menu! Talk about laugh. I’ll let him finish the tale . . . ask him about chicken chops.

And then we have a ‘map moment’, when Ben discovers that Tupeci is on the coast, rather than the mountains, where we think we are . . . are we on the wrong road?

And I remember Ivan’s good son, bad son story. Croatians, he said, are hill people. They did not live on the coast until tourism lured them down from the mountains. Good sons, he said, traditionally inherited hill land, bad sons the coast. I guess choosing the hills is a pirate thing, a matter of peaceful survival for those who lived for generations beside Adriatica’s infamous eastern shoreline. Anyway, the upshot of this tale is a) bad son didn’t do so bad and b) there are coast towns and hill towns with the same names.

And now we sit and play backgammon, the blood warmed with brandy and pasta, while Boreus terrorises the mountainside . . . wondering, now we’ve confirmed there are no rooms to be had in this house, or the house across the road, when exactly might be the right time to head out into the cold mountain night . . . and find a camp . . .

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s.j.simon said...

did you know how cheese was invented? It wasnt necessity, it was an

Gurpreet said...

:) did you know how cheese was invented? It wasnt necessity, it was an accident, read this