Our plane touched down in Dubrovnik and we were warmly greeted to by a man who had a vague resemblance to Alec Trebeck except for his sun glasses and his shirt was undone amply enough to reveal a gold chain. After a short car ride to the town of Cavtat our hosts2
immediately sat us down at an outside table with a view of the bay and brought us some wine. A wave of relaxation washed over us and it was nice to ditch our shoes, see the ocean, and be away from the large cities we had been marching through on our vigorous tourist schedule. A sense of calmness continued to grow as we sat on the veranda, not a bad calmness like a long boring lecture but a good calmness like a margarita or a long sauna. I realized that I enjoyed the milder warmer climates more than the colder ones.3
Not the most profound statement because who doesn't.
The town itself was a small peninsula with a half moon harbor on one side and a rocky shore on the other
. Restaurants and the usual shops of towels, extremely stupid and offensive t-shirts, and nick knacks lined the harbor. Parked on the water were usually at least five big yachts and a smattering of beautiful sailboats. I pretended I was an uptight eccentric world-known author and owned one of them.4
We spent most of our time along this waterfront having cappuccinos, ice creams, and just doing nothing of any concern. A few hot afternoons were spent on the rocky shore swimming in the warm Adriatic Sea. A few of the girls went topless but most them were in their early sixties. This is a gross estimate because I did not prolong my stare for too long but I did envy their confidence in their body image. Bravo! We have encountered many tourists but most of them are elderly because we have hypothesized that they have the money and the time to go on extended vacations. At one restaurant it appeared that they were having a Margaret Thatcher look-a-like contest and a resort that we walked by had all of the vitality and liveliness of a tortoise farm. We rarely see people our own age and have speculated that most people our age have young families and careers and do not have the resources for an extended leave.5
Collette loved Cavtat because of two words; turtles and kittens. Next to the three story building we were staying in there was a small patch of plants. In this area a mama turtle and a baby turtle lived and Collette would have lived here too if we let her
. Think back into your own lives about a time when you became obsessed with something. It could have been a person, an object or some food, now multiply that by six and that is how our three year old becomes around animals. In addition to our daily twenty three no's and fourteen "get away from that" and our ten "come here right now" we had the pleasure to add twenty "put that turtle down" and "be nice to the turtles". The kitten had the distinct advantage of a better propulsion system and would just make a quick dash for the bushes to avoid the spastic small outstretched fingers. It was pure chaos when Collette found two baby turtles. They got the joy of being stacked on top of each other and put into buckets. We also added," Turtles don't like to be picked up by their feet" If you ask her about turtles now she will go into a long rambling monolog that does not seem to have a conclusion or an antagonist, but she is very sincere.
As I was agonizing over buying sunglasses or not, those who know me well know that when I agonize over any purchase greater than 50 dollars I tend to spread the agony around, Collette weaseled herself into a rousing game of "red light green light with some Croatian kids. The rules of the game were strictly enforced as they should be in accordance with school yard etiquette. They were very accommodating and slowly explained to her in slow, steady Croatian what she should do and how the game was played then she would promptly ignore it. It is always good for us to see her playing with other kids because often she is isolated and she takes such joy in it.
One day was spent on an excursion by ferry to the town of Dubrovnik. This is a famous large walled city which rivaled Venice in its heyday and a march around the sheer city walls above the turquoise sea with the monkey on my head took at least two hours with only one lemonade stop
. Since this is a common stop for cruise ships it was seething with tourists and tour groups. The tour leaders always hold up an umbrella or signs so their group can find them and then they move around like little flocks of earth bound birds. We visited one of the oldest pharmacies (established in 1317) but it got only two tourist stars because there was not much to see and it seemed rather anemic after some of the other sites we have seen but the town as a whole was impressive.
We enjoyed Cavtat immensely and it was nice to go somewhere were the main attraction was not a specific cathedral or castle to check off of some master tourist list but the atmosphere of the place as a whole. Just the type of change we were looking for.
1. I am too embarrassed about two critical travel mistakes. If I were a bigger person I would come right out and tell them.
2. The name of the place was called Villa Kipre. I want to give them a little plug since they were so hospitable.
3. Then I don't know why I am so hairy but I just am.
4. Most of my pretend novels were about coming of age stories for out of work teens in small American towns.
5. Or are not stupid enough to haul their toddler(s) around the world.
We departed central Croatia on a bad note of a mysterious nature.