Sunday, 14 October 2007

STEPH Wherethefuckarewe to Plano 13/10/07

YAY!!! Today I found my pilgrim feet.

Which is just as well, because we never intended to walk the 36 kms we walked over mountains high and higher to find food and shelter.

It was a loooooong day.

By the time the sun popped over the ridge we were sitting on our packs snacking on leftover bread, cheese, chocolate and prunes for brekkie. We hit the road around 8 and made a good start on the hills.

We climbed and we climbed, figuring we’d stop at the first town a few kms up the road for a decent feed, before ploughing into the day proper. And that we did. Only the town was a ‘town’ and the only place open was a husband and wife cleaning up after last night’s party.

They were happy for us to sit in the sunshine on their verandah and drink orange juices while we rested and they cleaned tiles. The man beamed his curiosity from a sweet moon face. Neither he nor we had the language to describe for him adequately what we were up to. I soaked up the music drifting out into the morning while Ben dipped into his bible and learned about the importance of stoning to death the man who gathers wood on the Sabbath. Apparently, according to the Book of Numbers, that's what God said.

We headed deeper into the mountains. Men called their greetings from rooftops, women from cabbage patches.

I begin to warm to Croatia. The mountains are autumn patchwork. The air is fresh and the sky blue and the breeze is cool enough to keep me from overheating in the sunshine.

Every now and then we pass through a ‘town’ marked on Ben’s map and despite my painful insistence that the size of dots on maps is relative to what’s around, hope for him springs eternal that each new ‘town’ is going to deliver the pig on spit burger that’s had him drooling since Sibenik.

Not a chance.

Today was also one of the few days we had a plan . . . we’d walk about 15kms, we’d have lunch, I’d get the bus and we’d meet down the road about 10kms and find a camp . . .

Not a chance.

Eventually, I see Croatia’s red white and blue flapping madly in the wind. A castle! There would be hot soup. Fresh bread. And, of course, wild boar roasting on a spit. It is a tourist castle, I am sure. I’ve seen such things on the tourist strip on the coast where I live.

It is a cemetery. A cemetery! And so we lay down our packs and rest with the dead awhile, watching traffic turn left and right at the nearby crossroads, eating our last morsel of chocolate and playing backgammon to keep our spirits high.

The score, by the way, is 23-13. And yes indeed, we are agreed, I make a great comeback game.

Ben is still holding out for one of these ‘towns’ to deliver.

Let’s just see what’s round the corner,’ he says.

Round the corner is four kms.

We make it to a major intersection. The sign says STOP and I do, sitting down in the dirt, among the weeds and rubbish on the nearest corner, taking stock of our situation. What might have been a cafĂ© is another bloody church. Not quite the sustenance we are looking for. I mind the packs while Ben checks out the settlement for signs of edibility – note: settlement, not town. The throbbing in my feet marks time with a not-so-distant chainsaw; face to the wind, my spirit keeps pace with the clouds racing through the clear blue sky.

We walk on. Ben is convinced that because the next town has a railway station it will have food. We walk on, surprised to find we are still climbing. We rest. We walk on. The thing about walking is that you never know what’s around the next corner, what’s ahead, not even when you’re right there on the corner. Realities are revealed when they are present and not a moment before.

And so it is that one more corner and we are face to face with the coast! We are as high as we could be, mind you, yet the coast, my beloved Adriatica, is in sight. And we walk on. As if there is anything else to do! And on. My feet, which have held up so well all day, now feel like the bones are going to push through my skin with every step. Pad pad pad down the mountain. Pad pad pad. Pad pad pad. Pad pad pad.

The sun sets glorious in front of us. Split, on the far eastern corner of the bay, glows orange. It is as if the god of glory is making amends for our pain. Pad pad pad. Pad pad pad. And then, in the darkness, a great white house with a pizza sign. Please let us stay here, I whisper to the god. We collapse inside. I rub my darling feet. We eat pizza. We drink wine.

We ask for hotel . . . 3kms.

My face must say it all, for it turns out they do rent rooms . . . and with a quick shuffle there is one free for us!

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