Sunday, 14 October 2007

STEPH Sibenik to Wherethefuckarewe 12/10/07

Today I experienced what it must have felt like to be an Egyptian slave hauling blocks for the pyramids, as Ben and I hoofed it out of Sibenik up a brief incline on the edge of town, hunched over, face to the bitumen, one foot in front of the other in the afternoon sun. Moments after that thought I was flat on my back on the footpath laughing so hard I thought I was going to split my sides.

And not because of the slave humour.

Ben put his arm out to stop me walking into a signpost the moment I spied it myself. What I didn’t see was the sign. Thanks to Ben I didn’t hit it as hard as I might have, but it still knocked me sideways. I grabbed the pole and thus prevented myself from being a total write-off . . . and then the laughter set in and my legs could no longer hold me up and there we were, two hysterical pilgrims weeping on the edge of Sibinek. The thing is – and I think it’s really hard to get this across – people here Do Not Get Us. No matter how clean and tidy and polite we are, we are incongruent with everything that exists in this world.


So we are already ridiculous and something like this happens and here we are, me rolling around on my turtleshell back, Ben in tears trying to give me a helping hand, laughing our guts out in the middle of the day in a town where stony faced is the generally accepted term of engagement.

Tell yer what, the pack was a whole lot lighter and my spirit a whole lot freer once we had me back on my feet, heading for the spotted hills of Croatia.

Mid-morning I left my perch overlooking the city and headed down to the port to meet Ben. Through a miracle of pilgrim-ness, and no thanks to you-know-who from yesterday in the information centre, I finally found him stuffing his face with a well-deserved hamburger brekkie in the bus station. I was feeling a whole lot better, taking (once again) my husband’s nutritional advice and sipping hot water though the night. At least there was some movement, if you know what I mean.

Conversation with the woman in the information centre:

Me (pointing to the street): I will meet my son here – can you please tell me where we are, the name of this place?
Her: Information Centre.
Me: Ah yes, where is the information centre?
Her: It is here on the road.
Me: Yes, but where is here, how do you name it?
Her: Information Centre.
Me: Is this the only information centre in Sibenik?
She stares as me, eyes rock steady with a corrupt yes.
Me: What about the port then. What is it called?
Her: It is the Gateway to Croatia.

And now here we are in a small ploughed grove between two rocky ridgelines, tucked in for the night in our tents. The crickets and bugs do their after-sundown whistling thing.

And speaking of sundown . . . tonight in the mountains we sat on the steps of an old old chapel (that thus far has escaped the EU money funnel that’s pouring concrete from one end of this coastline to the other – even the dogs have new kennels!, yes, concrete kennels); yes we sat on the steps of an old and very tiny white chapel and ate bread and cheese while the sun set crimson-gold behind the mountains.

This was the sunset so far of the pilgrimage.


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