Monday, 29 October 2007

STEPH Dubrovnik 28/10/07

This morning I woke to Dubrovnik’s discordant church bells ringing in a grey day and a deep throated dog howling along to the bells.

Pause to reflect on this sound . . .

It is an awesome sight outside our window, the old fortress walls beautifully curved into an angry blue ocean smashing at her feet, the line between sea and sky blurred by the mists of a rainy morning.

I spend the day wandering around the city, surrounded by Australian accents. The woman who dries our laundry has me pegged. She said the last two summers have been full of Australians.

I get the feeling Dubrovnik belongs to no man. This is an ancient city eternally young. Draw lines in the sand around this one as you will, hand it over to this nation or that . . . impose your identity as you like . . . Dubrovnik is a free spirit, unchained and unclaimable.

From Italy’s Adriatic shoreline, staring into the mists of time, I am the priestess on the golden sand at sunrise watching the ships of the invaders come for the city. Here in Dubrovnik, I am the empress standing on high cliffs looking west, and the ships sailing in from the dark horizon are those of the homecomers.

The food here in Dubrovnik is fabulous. I mean tiramisu two nights running fabulous. Wonderful service and presentation and fresh salads and soups and main meals everywhere. The restaurants are superb – I would go so far as to say it is years since I’ve been anywhere where I’ve had my choice of restaurants. Choice of restaurants . . . and try spending more than forty bucks AND eating and drinking everything your heart and soul desires!

Bear with me, I’m a woman who’s been on a diet of cheese, bread, chocolate and mandarins.

The day before yesterday, buckling under the weight of my own resistance in the mountains, I simultaneously turned a corner and had an embarrassingly simple epiphany.

There is only this (the mountain, the vineyard, the sunshine, the road).

Only here, only now, no past no future no stories no resistance, only this – and a wonderful lightness in my being.

If Croatia and Bosnia et al could be here now, only here, only now, no past no future no stories no resistance . . .

As without, so within.

I am reminded of my epiphany as I sit in a wine bar on comfortable white puffy chairs, watching evening come to a peaceful city beneath a stormy sky. I am waiting for Ben to return from a deep sea dive.

Dubrovnik, I realise, embodies this lightness of being. A city who answers to no master. A city whose women fill its streets at night. A city humming with visitors from all the nations on Earth. A city whose youth wear no badge of resistance.

Ben shows up shivering with cold. He’s taken a liking to the pirate liquor we discovered in the tavern in the cavern in Omis. He orders to warm his blood and, feet tapping to the great songs of the 90s, we play backgammon well into the night. I beat him convincingly. At last. We laugh till the tears run. We have dinner.

Dubrovnik is a vertical city, sliding straight up the mountain that meets its sea. We climb the hundred stairs to our room. I settle in for the night and Ben heads out again with his camera . . .

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1 comment:

mike b said...

Steph ... you always seem to find time for long luxurious meal times !! this is a good thing !

dubrov sounds terrific :o)

Now this is what i would call a bohemian lifestyle - dont you agree ? lol !! ;o)