I Played In The Water Like A Little Girl

July 29 — I’m glad I love Split as much as I do because the separation anxiety is still with me. While I am not nervous or as anxious my mind keeps seeing all the Roamers who have left. Walking down every street I am reminded of someone. Whether it’s a shirt, a sign, or a person I think looks like them I can’t stop it in my mind. I hope with time this will fade.

As I like to do I went back to have my morning coffee at the same place, Brasserie 7. I’m comforted by seeing the same people who have already served me. I love how they recognize me and appreciate my repeat business after a single day. The location is on The Riva and I could have easily stopped somewhere else or walked past to get my coffee. I chose their place and they know it.

Today is our We Roam welcome party. The group is taking a bus up to the mountains for a traditional Croatian barbecue then we’ll head over to the beach. I’m very excited and this is first time in a while I’m looking forward to the party. I wasn’t a fan of laser tag in Berlin, I missed Prague and don’t even know what the event was. In Barcelona we did an escape room welcome party. I guess I prefer mingling with the other Roamers because you don’t know when you’ll see them again. We’re all spread out over the city. If you factor in work and side trips it’s a coin toss.

My roommate and I walked to the location pickup together. It’s another hot day of above average temperatures. Our group has a way of changing the temperature when we travel. It’s pretty common for us to be told the weather is unseasonably hot or cold. Cold is much harder for me to handle. Heat, I handle very well.

The bus takes us out of the city and I’m seeing things I’m sure I wouldn’t have on my own. We begin to drive into the mountains and see there was recently a fire which destroyed a lot of land. I wondered how in the world they stopped it right before it damaged houses. It was as it there was a line in the sand the fire could not cross. Soon, I wouldn’t be thinking about the fire rather my own death.

As we continue to go up the mountain the road becomes one lane and we’re in a huge charter bus. The mountain on the right side with no shoulder and a cliff drop on the left. Well, to be fair, if we went over there would have been a lot of trees to break the fall of the bus as we plummeted to what would sure be our death.

I was so nervous and it got worse as the bus would reverse and then go back up to get around the corner. Then we stopped because of branches. Ummm… I don’t know what the driver is thinking but in my brain our bus beats those branches. They weren’t huge limbs. I say we plow through. No one listened to what I said. As people pondered what to do and began climbing on the bus, making it rock, and trying to lift the branches so the bus could pass I put my head in my hands and bent over to hug my knees.

Out of nowhere a car arrives and a man with a chainsaw gets out to start cutting the branches. So people in Croatia just carry chainsaws with them wherever they go? Is this Croatia’s version of Crocodile Dundee? Then, as dramatic as a movie, I can see the entire man. “Trust and Believe”.

Having already seen his legs which were strong and muscular I imagined he would look very nice and he did. The rest of his body matched. Perfectly proportioned, not too bulky, and ruggedly handsome. It was like he was a chiseled sculpture with moving parts. My fear immediately vanished.

I found myself flush and instinctively looking for the ring on his finger. It only took me a moment to spot it. A man like this couldn’t be single but I needed the proof. Still, his shirt read “Trust and Believe” and I did. I didn’t even know who I trusted and what I believed. At this point I was the dumbfounded character in a romance novel. Speechless.

The bus was awakened by his presence as well. I wasn’t the only one who noticed him. Pictures were taken and people were told to quit “blocking the view”. As he continued to cut down the branches so the bus could drive on we all stared in awe. We still didn’t know who he was and how a stranger came to our rescue. Heading down the road to our destination this man sat on the roof of the car in front of us sawing off branches as we made our way up the hill. So this is Croatia? Where can I get one of these guys? Do they grow on trees?

Soon after we would learn he is one of our local liaisons and a former soccer player. I guess I need to learn about soccer and start going to some games. The barbecue we had was at his location. At least I think it was. This isn’t a place you’d ever find on your own and no signs are going to lead you there. I would be shocked if it came up on a map.

Lunch was being prepared and while it was a barbecue this wasn’t a typical outdoor event. Everything was done first class. I was reminded of my childhood family barbecues. My uncle as the grill master, aunts in the kitchen, kids playing, and the teenagers discussing all the drama going on in their lives. Translation, how crazy and out of touch we thought our parents were.

The table was set to perfection and the beauty of it all was how at home I felt. This was not like being at a stranger’s home and not too stuffy where you are afraid to do something wrong. These people knew how to combine the art and beauty of manners with family and friends. There is something so special about having a place prepared for you.

As we all scattered amongst one another exploring, talking, and taking pictures I walked down what seemed like a deserted street. The feeling of originality overtook me. This area hasn’t been retouched. What falls stays on the ground until someone decides to pick it up. Homes which are still maintained means someone currently lives there. A home to be in the same family for generations. It was as if I got to go back in time.

I miss my family so much and all these things scream family to me. I could envision children playing, women tending to the garden and hanging up clothes on the line. Men who worked in the fields and a gathering of neighbors who were also your family. Sharing what you had and pulling your resources. The biggest table you owned crowded at meal times. Every seat taken. I don’t care if I made it all up in my mind or not. Maybe it didn’t happen here. Once upon a time it happened in my family.

When it was time to sit and eat I was not disappointed. These might not be my blood family relatives but these Roamers are my family this year. Some I know better than others and I’ve got to meet two new Roamers. The food was amazing and conversation was great. I needed this. I didn’t know how badly until now.

Leaving and heading down the mountain was much easier. I sat on the wrong side of the bus but simply shut the curtains and put my head down to rest. It did the trick and the next thing I knew we were at the beach.

The beaches here are rock and I don’t mind. There are plenty of cushioned seats and you only have to lay on the rocks if you want to. A DJ played music and dancers like you would see at a club in Vegas shared the stage with him. Soon we would have an aerial show and two women performing in giant bowl of water like mermaids. Not your normal beach day. It truly was an outdoor performance which happened to be set along the water.

I was in complete amazement and felt like I didn’t want the day to end. A lot of the group was heading into the water and I decided to go to. The sea is nice and warm and we swam out to the floating water raft where we played like kids and pushed one another off the raft.

Like a little girl I played in the water. The salt filled my mouth when I got pushed in and sometimes it came out of my nose. I pushed my fair share of people in as well. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun in the water. It’s the feeling all over again of being carefree.

I wasn’t a mother wondering who might get hurt as people throw one another or push and shove. I wasn’t concerned about how I looked in my bathing suit or how tan I’m not. This was simply a day at the beach with friends. In Croatia water is a verb again not a noun.

My end of day gratitude:

  1. Making it safely up the mountain.
  2. A wonderful home cooked meal.
  3. Having water be a verb again.

Support my travels

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.