February 28, 2010

one, two, many

Ovce (sheep) and janjetine (young sheep), to many to count and if you try you'll probably fall asleep.

For those who like to lay in the sun at one of those milion beaches of our Adriatic coast, and do nothing than that, stop reading here.

For those a tiny bit more adventurous, eager to get to know true life of Croatia (HR) and its neighbour Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH), get going, as in less than an hours drive you'll see more than you thought possible.

Whatever direction you go, except south (where the sea is dummy), you'll discover loads of real life in what's called Zagora, the hinterland of that glorious coast.

The picture here was taken in Bosnia (uhhh, that mine-poluted country), driving from Split/Omis/Makarska to Livno or Tomislavgrad in BiH.

I've seen my bit of the world, trust me, but here I found, AND find my peace, my inspiration and the stories I want to share with you.

Sheep to many to count, peacefully eating till they are eaten (and fantastic they are here), in a panoramic landscape you would not even think it was possible like it's here, just over the border at Arzano or Kamensko (no sweat, passport and insurancepapers of the car).
And talking about sheep and what they give to us, do try some Livno or Kupres cheese, tasty as can be and cheaper than the industry-stuff you may be used to.

Oh, and before I forget, driving this marvelous scenery, left to Livno or right to Tomislavgrad, you pass a giant lake called Busko Jezero or Busko Blato, that invites for a swim on a hot summers day.

Go for it, and about those mines, yes there are and no, not all around anymore, and in case there are, or you want to go hiking cross country, each and everyone has info, and in each town there is information available.

But don't let it stop you from visiting, as I am still alive and complete, and so are these sheep.
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winter olympics Svinisce style

Four days of snow in our hidden valley, normally baking in the summersun, and our Svinisce Winter Olympics had a go.

Most people stayed away from work, school and shopping, due to the dangerous driving conditions, so time to have fun !!!

Wherever there was a slope (rampa they call it) or a downhill road the Croatian bobteam was going for gold medals.

Those cookingplate covers are excellent bobsleighs, and for those still needing them to cover the cookingplace, plastic bags were almost as good as anything else, as long as it was of "racing quality".

And GOLD they won, far away from officials, crowds and hymnes.
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they don't shoot horses, do they ?

No, if you see a horse here, its used for riding, so its not being shot at.

But anything else that lives in our surrounding nature is prone to meet a bullet or at least a hunter, as hunting is one of the things that is in the genes of the locals.

Not wanting to dispute if hunting should or should not be banned (being cheaper and better than sex I am a pro), I respect and accept everything that's been part of local life here for centuries, and hunting is just a part of that.

Besides, when these wild boars (black pigs as they say) enter your tenderly maintained potatoefield, taking your winterstock in one night, you'll probably shout "if I had a gun, I'd kill the bastards".

Well, they have their guns, stricktly legal, well regulated and organised in huntinggroups, and what's better on a weekendday than going into nature during the huntingseason and harvest some of the wildlife around you together with some good villagefriends.
(Some illegal hunting or even shooting at nasty flies earns less of my respect, but okay, some drivers ignore red lights among most others doing things by the book).

One of those days, returning from shopping in Omis, I drove up along Cetina river, to our hidden valley, and spotted this group after a succesfull hunt.
All except the boars were still fighting adrenalinelevels down, the dogs biting the fallen enemy to check if they were dead as dead should be, which they were.
Half liters of Karlovacko Pivo (beer) were handed around (not on this proud picture), to celebrate another day in pure nature.

And that's exactly what life is all about here, only ten minutes behind a fantastic touristical coast at Omis, great to spend a holiday, but not showing what true paradise living is about.
Life here is easy going (polako), helping eachother, sharing good and bad moments together, being a party or a funeral, picking grapes, potatoes or olives, fixing a hole in the road or building a concrete wall for a neighbour together.

As always, after some job together, there is pivo or homemade vino, as there is dryed ham, cheese, some pickles and bread, or even better, a fair amount of excellent meat from the grill (perhaps a peace of boar ??).

Life sucks (but it only sucks the suckers).
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February 26, 2010

running from the cold ?

If you think Svinisce is great to hide from the wintercold, well, sorry to say, but you'd better keep running south and don't stop till you see camels flying.

With the intention to tell the truth, the whole truth and much more about living (or having holidays) in Croatia, I would be cheating if I did'nt tell that during winter at least our hidden valley is cold.

Thyme, rosemary and lavender under our laureltree show nothing else but their snowy branches, their normal delicious smells waiting for some sun.
There is a chemical explanation to that, as odors are gases, and below some temperatures those gases become sleepy (so freeze your armpits in stead of using deodorants for once).

But things aint as bad as they look or seem, as our snow only kept us of the roads for four days, being to dangerous to drive up or down our mountainroads.

During those days most people in our neighbourhood stayed away from work and school, having loads of fun sliding down roads and hillsides on anything usable to slide.
Garbagebags filled with eggboxes (great isolation), plastic bags taped around shoes and pants to prevent snow coming in, you don't have to be wealthy when you are able to improvise (and improvise they can here !!!!).

The good part of this snowy item is that after four days the snow melted away, the road was safe again, and ten minutes driving down along the Cetine and into Omis, the Adriatic was quietly giving some heat to the air, helped by some wintersun, keeping oranges, lemons and such in good shape.
The difference in microclimates here is amazing , due to hills, valleys and surrounding mountains with corridors between them, keeping the area connected to the harsh winterconditions in Bosnia (where you go if you like to ski a bit) and the Adriatic on the other side of our mountains.

So, like I told before, many days you can drink an excellent espresso in the morning, sitting under a palmtree in the wintersun at the Adriatic Sea, and get your ski's under in less than a two hours drive.

So if you like variation in your daily meal, this is the best place to be.
And the slice of lemon on your schnitzel, well, just pick one in stead of buying them.
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grapes ?

Somewhere in our neighbourhood, having a walk on a fair winterday, I crossed this wineyard, empty, as the grapes turned into wine months ago already.

As rough nature is all around here, the owner of this patch must have been "pissed off" as birds were robbing him from his drunken nights, singing klapa with friends.

(Klapa is THE local traditional of singing songs together, most songs about the sea, lost loves, fishing and sun).

And as this man had a wife that went shopping day after day after day, she got loads of plastic bags, he gladly took in return for her spending his money.

So now this wineyard is looking terrible, but so is the face of this man after another drunken night, singing klapa while drinking his local wine (which most of the time is nice and mostly very nice, but stubborn as a donkey).

Drink these wines during daytime mixed with water, as it's got so much flavour it's taste and character are not influenced by adding some water.
At our daily diners however, I take one/two glasses, and believe me, watching television at the woodfire after diner never was nicer :-)

Still I hope the guy will not just dump his plastic shit, preparing his yard for new grapes to grow, as they still have the nasty habit here to drop much of their useless materials in this lovely pure nature (but that's another story to tell, and I will !!!!).
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banak i mali stol (sit down and enjoy)

A while ago I was walking along the coast after stormy weather, knowing as an old sailor that in bad weather always something is lost from a ships deck.

Walking over the rocky cliffs of the Adriatic is always a great thing to do, after stormy weather its even nicer, as the sea spits out wat it does'nt eat or need.

Sad enough, most is plastic garbage, bottles (always empty), shoes (never a pair), lighters, bags, shit, shit, shit, loads of shit.

However...., most of those moments I find something that's of use to me, just funny, nice or really usefull.

From some ship they have been missing a peace of wood used to cover the cargo, but sorry guys I found it, and thanks for losing it, as it became what they call in Croatia a "mali stol", meaning "small table".

Especially the true old used character of that peace of wood, tumbled and washed in stormy waves, iron bands around the edges and handles with rosty grips, I just loved it from the first sight.

Not being a carpenter by profession, I teached myselve recently how to make sturdy strong connections in wood, using strong glue and as little metal parts as possible.
So I created some good legs under it, did some sanding and painting (not to much !!!) and had myselve a nice little table to put my glass of local wine on after a day of true pure joy in Croatia.

Well, is that all than ?
Hell no, as a little table is nice, but one's got to sit down to, so again I started to work on some old broken wood, left behind by the constructors of our little gardenhouse.
They did'nt need it anymore, after loads of stones and concrete had been rolled over it, split in two halves, dropped aside for the fireplace.

For me hoewever, also these two parts can be united again with good glue and some splinting, and after brushing loads of cement off, shaving and sanding and some painting (not to much !!)two legs were made and there it was, the "mali banak" /little bench, solving my sitting problem.
So now that's all done, I can finally sit down and enjoy the panoramic view in the late afternoon sun.

Stop......first there's more work to be done, as the outside walls of our new gardenhouse/workshop have to be finished as they are still uncovered and ugly grey, and sure, also the floor will have some finish, but polako (slowly slowly), that's for another moment in the near future.

Lots to plan, lots to do, lots to enjoy, lots and lots and lots, but all just for the fun of it, so POLAKO, as you only live once !!!!!
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