Friday, 12 October 2007

STEPH Vransko Jezero to Sibenik 11/10/07

This morning I do not indulge in wondering why I’m doing this walk. I am struggling with pain and it’s not my feet or the weight of the pack that is causing concern. I feel utterly sick and have dreadful cramping pains in my belly. It hurts to sit down. Excruciatingly so.

I walk. And I walk. And I walk. The first two lessons of the road to Santiago are my guides – keep going and this too will pass. We rest as often as I need to, which isn’t much help because it hurts to stop and it’s cold this morning! Winter is on the wind.

The grey and glassy lake of last night has become a turbulent green pond. We walk past plantations of old olive groves, tiny territories marked by ribbons of grey stone walls. We hit the road, surprised to find it’s relatively quiet out here in the closest I think we’re likely to come to a coastal wilderness – five kms of low-lying scrub rising to small patchy hills in the east, a gorgeous island coastline to the west and no developments in sight!

We cross the abandoned road into the deserted town of Prosika and, having taken a couple of painkillers, I finally feel well enough to eat bread and cheese as we rest on the crumbling ashphalt. I take stock . . . last night was a riot of sleeplessness . . . I’m done with coffee . . . and I’m beginning to suspect the pain in my belly is constipation . . . all this white fluffy food is taking its toll . . . or perhaps it was those figs.

We walk on. When I think I can’t go any further I realise I’m projecting memories of pain past into the future. I ask myself the question, sometimes with every step – are you okay now? Yes. I take another step. And so on . . .

We make it to Pirovac, which is to be my salvation. Bed. Shower. Food supply. Sleep. Recovery. Ben will keep walking and I will catch up. The town centre is miles from the main road. I begin to resent the new developments with their coloured ice-cream cake houses and no bloody infrastructure in between. We make it into town and there’s no bloody food anywhere. I sit down and cry for a minute. There is a bus station back on the main road. I will go to Sibenik and wait for Ben there tomorrow.

The bus weaves its way along the gorgeous coastline, past miles of houses cascading down the hillsides. Sibenik is fabulous by the port, the old city so steep there are only stairs to get to and from town. Streets are no wider than I am tall. Cars wind through narrow alleys, unapologetically pasting me to the wall. The man I ask for directions to a hotel is abrupt and rude. The woman in the tourist information centre is abrupt and rude. The Canadian woman who rents rooms is not abrupt and rude so much as a disinterested pain in the arse. I develop an irrational hostility towards Croatians and their stupid housey coastline.

And now I alternate between clean blue sheets and sipping hot water on the loo, biting down on searing flashes of pain so as not to disturb the Canadian’s guests . . . and in between, I pass time with a German tourist on the verandah, looking over the city into the cloudy darkness as lightning dances over the islands.

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