September 17, 2010

never trust a first impression

sometimes pictures or first impressions do not tell the real story.
this picture for instance shows Nikola (Tafra), one of the special people that live in our little community in Modris, part of Svinisce, a chain of little communities.
at first when you meet him, he seems to be a bit a difficult man, but I told you:

never trust a first impression !
like drinking a wine, you should give it some time (or glasses), and slowly allow yourselve to get used, which we did.

Nikola, Mate for his friends, is one of the best people to have around, always willing to share, help or to invite you for a glass or some food.
and of course, wine (white), orachovic(wallnut booze) or travarica (herbal booze) are home made, and so is most of his food, grown by himselve on the field next to ours.

for a man that lost half an arm and an eye, covered with scars (from playing in his young years with one of those "nice" post war presents called grenades (a German one this time) , he is the best example of a survivor, an amazing character in every way, and a friend to pamper as you have the luck to know him better.

I could tell about many examples proving what I mean, but again, like in all my little stories about Svinisce, you'll have to believe me, or better, come and experience it all yourselve some lucky moment.

and no, that's not his monkey on his shoulder, it's his young white cat, hiding for his little black dog.
a perfect friend, to me, to us, and to his other cat and his various chickens.
hvala Mate, ti si moi priatel !

if you have the chance, tell the representatives in your government that however wars are terrible they stop.
landmines however NEVER stop, so tell your government to stop using, selling, buying, producing those horrible things.
bullits are terrible, grenades even worse, but landmines are an absolute nightmare, as the wound and kill long after war is over !
(just imagine it's your kid, relative or friend).

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September 10, 2010

and still there are Split, Trogir and much more

there's a thousand reasons to love Croatia (and a few lesser qualities I just accept), which you should know.

old towns like Split, Trogir, Dubrovnik, each worth a long walk and lot's of oh's and ah's.
and than there is the Adriatic Sea, with the bluest, cleanest water, touching a most fantastic Dalmatian coast on hundreds of islands and beaches, sandy or rocky, but all inviting for a swim.

but what most people never see (ignorent or blind) is what we call Zagora, the hinterland, just behind the coastal mountainridges.
there you''ll experience a natural beauty that is amazing, pure and original.

if you wonder why Romans, Turks, Austrians, French, Italians and Germans tried to get hold of all this in ancient times, well, I know why and if you look at this picture, you know why too.

follow the Cetina river upstream, coming from Trilj, stay on the right side(!!!!) and keep going till you reach the beginning of this river, a deep blue clear phenomenen, where the water of the river pops up out of nowhere from under the mountains that surround you.
at first it's a little stream, quickly entering the highlind where it's like it's looking where to go, finally deciding to head for the Adriatic.

from beginning to end this river has a different character, sometimes dreamingly calm, a couple of times blocked by powerplants, and closer to the sea, carving itselve through rocky canyons, where daily many hundreds of tourists spend a day rafting down the rapids.

and however we live very close to that canyon, and to the mouth of the river at Omis, I love the upstream part even more.
never a dull moment, especially in the Dalmatinska Zagora, and most certainly following the Cetina from end to start.

(p.s. thanks Frans, for this fantastic picture)
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shut up, just look

sometimes it's better to shut up and look, just look.
this picture, shows one of those moments that make svinisce special.

so for once I shut up, and I hope you do the same, for just a moment, and try to imagine the total pureness we know here so well.

no words, this is SVINISCE at it's best.
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September 07, 2010

why pigs look so happy

a bit morbide it looks, you might say, and I totally agree.

however, we civilised people (at least the meat eating part of us), make our daily trip to the supermarket, buy ourselves some chops, a steak or a chicken, and however nice it may taste, the thing is dead.

but our "friends" in the foodindustry take care of us poor souls, and take away the head, puts it on a nice (/horrible) peace of plastic, with sometimes even a "pamper" under it, and we remain innocent, as this is meat, and not an animal anymore.

come on folks, accept that you're meat eaters, from head to tail, and face the fact you are an omnivore.

the vegetarians among us do not tell the greengrocer to take the leaves of the carrots, (or do they ??), so why are we meateaters so ignorent that we face our food preferably without the proof of it's original status, from head to tail and back !!!!!

here, in lovely Croatia, I had the honour to be invited to the diner after the baptising of our best friends first son Jospih Frane.
and with me, a whole group of family, friends and neighbours where there to celebrate this special moment.
and what does a Croat do when he joins with his dear ones, he organizes food and drinks (and starts to sing).

the food was absolute top quality, with four roasted lambs and two young pigs, all of them cared for during their life, and even more cared for them during those roasting hours at the end of it.
on large tables they were served with the finest examples fruits and green/red stuff (salads, tomatoes, olives), and boy did that taste !!
and between all those delights, there were the heads of the animals, roasted like tourists after two weeks of beachfun at the Adriatic.
hvala Bogu (thank God) Croats still respect the whole animal, fish or vegetable, so when you order a fish in a restaurant, you get it all, and in shops the vegetables are still in their original state, and NOT cut, sliced, washed, cooked and packed like those idiots in my homeland (Holland) do in supermarkets reducing the quality and increasing the profit.
a carrot has leaves, a fish has a tail, and animals have heads, so show it like it is, and don't be a hypocrit when you eat it, being vegetarian, carnivore or omnivore.

and for this marvelous dinerparty, there was a lot more, like a variety of cookies and for desert the VERY BEST tiramusi I ever tasted, but I had committed myselve to "a little to much" of that delicious roasted pig.
respectfull to the animal that gave it's life for my pleasure of eating it, I ate and drank close to "the point of no return".

and than we sang, till the sun came up again over the Adriatic, deep down below us, in Gornje Podstrana.
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September 05, 2010

talking about my generation

it was the famous english rockband The Who that once had a song called My Generation.

with grandma Mika on the left and my wife Nives on the right (and one of our "wild" cats, called Sporky crossing) two generations are having a chat on the steps to our terrace.

grandma must be in her eigthies now, but still takes care of a million things in the household of our best friends Anjelco and Susana.

taking care of the house, feeding chickens, picking eggs, than going to the land to water the plants when needed, and later in autumn, when a couple of pigs are behind the house, she prepares their food, all homegrown on their own fields.
and than, when time has come for those pigs to become the famous prsĂșt (salted, smoked, dried and matured ham, famous in Dalmatia) she daily takes care that those hams, panceta, sausages and more, hanging in the "black" kitchen, get their daily amount of smoke to conserve the meat and make it to the very best you'll ever know or eat.

grandma's in Croatian families are MOST important and highly respected, as they keep the "wheels turning" while kids are in school and parents are working.
and when anybody comes home for lunch or supper, it's their, as she cooked it already for each and all.

still life is not always easy here, but life of grandma and her late husband (named "Truman" after that famous American president, worked like hell to keep the family fed, and did it all by hand, with no motormachines, no electricity, water from the well and long walks up and down the mountain to Omis and back, as there simply were no roads, no cars, just legs and pure character.

her knowledge , and that of all Croatian grandma's, their experience and endurance are the best examples of how to live and survive in this marvelous country beheind the coast.
for that reason it's nice to see that my wife gets some experiences handed over in a friendly chat between two generations.

and for all of it, grandma Mika (and her generation) deserves all respect you can give to her (and all grandma's), living under rough conditions we do not even know of and never will.

about that little cat crossing, well, she owns a place between them on the picture, as she gave bearth to at least three kittens a couple of weeks ago.
and for cats times never changes, they will never know about the "benefits" of cars, airco's, tv's and washingmachines, they just pass their skills on to their kittens, century after century, from the days of Cleopatra till somewhere far into the future.
generation after generation.
and we just talk about it, as this is my and my wifes generation, from overorganised and crowded Holland, happy to be living in Croatia today.
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September 04, 2010

one plus one expat makes three

there he is, the newborn boy called Josiph (Jozef) Frane, the son of Mark and Kika Geurts.

living in Croatia these two Belgian folks (our best friends) are the proud parents now of a little boy, recently born in Stari Podsdrana.

we live a quiet retired life, they are doing a great job, working with their sailing club (catamarans, windsurfboards) and hosting young folks for the (non profit) social tourism organisation called JEKA.
groups of young kids from many countries visit Croatia to have a week of our best Croatian delights, being the sea, nature, adventure, and a closer look at other people living in another country.

this weekend he will baptised in the ancient catholic church, high on the slopes over Podsdrana.
young life/old church, Croatia/Belgium, the very best of both, combined in a young kid growing up in a beautifull country, with loving parents to care for him.

welcome to the world Josiph Frane, welcome to Croatia, and have a fantastic life here.
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September 02, 2010

yes we can (build walls)

the chinese did it, the germans did it, even the israeli's do it, so why not me.

the dalmatian landscape is showing small walls allover the place, most of the time just to get rid of stones in the fields, and as it your patch, it's logical that those stones are put at the borders of it.

also walls are needed here, as the land is never ever flat (like my home country Holland), and when you want to have a flat peace you better build a wall to create a terrace.

needed or wanted, those walls are nicer to see than grey concrete.

reason for me to build my first ever traditional stone wall, to hide the concrete of the drive from section one to section two of our ground here with a difference in heigth of about one meter.

and as there is a first time for everything, like I said to many virgins (when I was young), this was the moment to put myselve to the test building a little wall covering that concrete, making it look natural and charming.
so with great pride I tell the world that I did it, and I am proud of it.

and however once it was an ugly thing, the chinese have a reason to be proud as well, as their wall can be seen from out of space, however I wonder if that will ever happen to my wall on Google Earth.

glad that the united germans broke it down, my advise the israeli's is: get rid of it, there's no reason to be proud of that wall at all.
history will tell I am right, and let's hope my wall stays for centuries to come.
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soparnik, a turkish gift from the past

our neighbours spend many hours in their fields, taking care of vegetables, grapes, olives and many more.
all of it is as pure and natural as can be, and the taste of whatever is harvested is excellent, not spoiled with artificial fertilizers and other horrible growth increasing horrors.

however not permanently living in Modris (part of Svinisce), the brothers have a traditional weekendhouse here, owned and shared by the members of the family, their wifes and kids.

during one of their stays they use to enjoy meals together, sometimes barbequed meat or fish, a rich soup or whatever they like to prepare and share.
this time they made a traditional soparnik, a simple but delicious kind of pizza, not being a pizza at all.

it's an old and very traditional dish, from the days the Otomans ruled this region, where baked between two layers of dough, a filling of blitva and onions is put, and the whole is baked on a traditional woodfire heated stone floor.
this is typically a food tradition fit for friends, as it'sfar to big for one or two people, so you hve to ask friends to help consume it, which is not a bad idea at all, is it ???

for those of you interested, enter "soparnik" on Google, and when not able to understand Croatian language, tell Google to translate it for you (a peace of cake).
on the picture is Neno Mimica, one of the three brothers, turning the soparnik between two round wooden plates.

and that's one of the thousand and one reasons why Svinisce is a fantastic place to be.
see the other pages of my blog if you don't believe me.
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