"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage


Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26 - Dubrovnik, Croatia




I found a private accomodation last night around 7:30 pm after getting in from the bus station. I'm staying with widow Maria in her extra room. She brought me into her kitchen and told me to ‘sit’, and poured me some orange syrup and water in a glass, a refreshing drink after 8.5 hours on the bus from Zadar. She made some big gestures of something coming down from the air, or maybe from the rocky bare hillsides above town? I thought maybe she was referring to the bombing by the Yugoslavian army in ’92. I asked her if she stayed or if she left town, that it must have been scary, trying to show compassion on my face because she spoke no English. She made big booming noises with her hands above her face motioning something. I thanked her for the juice, confused. Then as I was dressing to leave for dinner, thunder cracked above town. She came down with an umbrella, made the booming noise again and the hand motion, and handed me the umbrella for the evening. She was talking about rain.

I was exhausted enough to sleep in the lumpy dipped bed, shaped like the country of Croatia, with a large mountain range splitting the coast from the interior valley. But I only had to walk half a block down the narrow stairs to find a cafe this morning with wi fi.

This city is marble streets, narrow stairways, hanging gardens, cafes and churches. People speak an unimaginable amount of different languages in Croatia. A tour guide I met spoke ten languages. In a street table, writing on my computer now, tours walk by me every 15 minutes - a different group, a different language. Chinese right now. And the smokers – the train from Zagreb to Zadar took a ten minute smoking break for everyone. Everyone cheered and rushed off to stand in the rain on the platform.

Today I walked the massive fortified walls of Dubrovnik. This independent republic city survived a 15 month siege in the thirteenth century. The Maritime Museum is filled with old documents of ship logs, legal agreements, contracts. The oldest contract recorded in the world was enacted here in Dubrovnik in 1260 or so. It seems this independent republic city has been protected and prosperous by shrewd trading and negotiations since 800 AD.