Love and Croatian Cheeseburgers: Just more from the same trip

19 Nov

Never in my life have I experienced such beauty as Croatia. Upon arrival I took quick notice that there was not a cloud in the blue sky, and that the temperature and humidity were in perfect proportions to induce sweat and evaporate it away before it is even noticed.  Ideal conditions for a man as reptilian as myself.  I wandered the streets of Pula with my Wal-mart backpack and my Sexy-Action-Extreme-Sandals, which were designed to handle all conditions of walking with an air of sexiness, extremitude and actionocity.  Had the architects of the English language anticipated their existence, I would not have to make up such words.  The sandals had straps for days and enough Velcro to provide an abrasive playing surface in Three football stadiums.  My attention was diverted–temporarily–from my sandals by a piece of graffiti on an innocuous side building.  In simply painted, red letters the words “Chuck Norris” had been placed dead center on the buildings exterior wall.   The internet has done amazing things.

Walking for about twenty minutes I found myself in the shadow of a Roman Coliseum–the Sixth largest in the World with a capacity of 23,000 people–and even more impressive, there was a cheeseburger stand right at the massive structure’s base. I ordered my cheeseburger, which was so good I had to tuck my boner into my waste band  and stared at the coliseum imagining what the video would look like if the buildings entire life-span was filmed using a time-lapse camera:  clouds zipping by as hoards of blood-thirsty civilians poured in and out of the coliseum entrance ways, every last soul equal in their insignificance when compared to the life of this structure…This thought occupied me for a solid hour and a half before I realized that I had no idea where my hostel was and/or if it actually existed.

Hitting the streets with a belly full of burger, I soon found out through numerous sign-language conversations with locals that the address I had written down for the hostel was not a real place, as far as anyone knew. Finally I saw on a bus-station map that one of the words in my useless address was a fishing village 10 km outside of my current touristy location. Fantastic. I hopped on a bus and headed toward the little fishing village of Liznjan.

Once again I wandered the streets of the town asking anyone and everyone if they recognized any of the words in the address I had written down, and once again I was confronted with blank stares and the occasional look of “Why the fuck are you here and what is this gibberish you are showing me.”  Eventually I met a friendly homeless guy who merrily walked me through the stone and clay streets, speaking Croatian the entire time and laughing heartily at jokes I couldnt understand. I walked with my new buddy for two-hours before he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and walked off towards the coast. Soon after splitting up from the amicable vagrant, I found a tourist shanty and by the good graces of L. Ron Hubbard was led to my hostel.    I also noticed on my long and inefficient journey that Liznjan had mysterious ‘street nurses”, as I will call them, who stood on corners and seemed to be assisting the elderly with crossing the road or shopping.  Sometimes they would just gather and stare with no apparent duties.  I will get back to them

My hostel was actually a gorgeous studio apartment with a terrace that overlooked the Adriatic sea and had grape vines winding around the railings. The television played nothing but ‘Step by Step’ and ‘Family Matters’ much to be delight. I quickly rented a mountain bike deemed “The Shadow Extreme” by its makers and let me tell you, it was both extreme and shadowy. I rode that son of a bitch for 3 days, stopping frequently to put the chain back on the gears, from beach to beach and from village to village. The Shadows’ tires were perfectly flat allowing me to coast easily over the loose-rock and gravel roads that dominated the two villages I was bouncing between. The seat could not hold my weight without folding in on itself forcing me to ride standing up.  I believe this was designed into the bike intentionally as to force the rider to stand up and peddle like a grown ass man.

At the beaches I saw many elderly breasts and more speedos than can ever be described without having a nervous breakdown. So, my visits were brief and I often sought out the most isolated parts of the peninsula to lean up against a rock and zone out for hours at a time, my new favorite past-time (baseballs always been trash anyways).   On one such trip–I have written about it as “An American Epiphany in Croatia” I left the beach feeling virile and a little worked up.  After reading and writing for a bit to exercise the unhorny part of my brain, I set out for a walk where I ran into the homeless man and went into the small, local bar where a table of nurses happened to be sitting.

After our drink, and after he declined another, the man thanked me and left.  I sat around as I was not in any kind of hurry and eyed the table of nurses curiously.  There was one in particular whom I had seen every morning across the road from where I waited for the bus into Pula.  We had gotten to the point in our relationship where we now waved to each other every so often.  Now, in the bar, was the closest in proximity we had ever been to one another. I smiled and waved and she approached the table with a friend of hers.  My new girlfriend who would introduce herself as something along the lines of Mariana, could speak some English while the other could speak none at all.  Soon it was only Mariana and myself sitting at the table.  I told her I was falling for her beautiful country but she seemed uninterested in national flattery.  She seemed aggressively interested in me.  I had been told by an eccentric kid named Moguely on the train-ride down that Croatia has the most beautiful women in the world but that it was nearly impossible to bed one of these exotic beauties.  Not exactly being a Casanova, I hadn’t really had many hopes to test his advice.  But I was beginning to feel more confident as her eyes grew more and more fiendish.

Mariana would eventually come back to the hotel room where we had enthusiastic, albeit slightly “cant-believe-this-is-happening-style” sex before heat and dehydration drove us to the beach for a dip.  We spent the day together and made it far more romantic an event than either of us knew it deserved.  There would be no long distance romance, no letters until that climactic reintroduction…this was it.  We enjoyed ourselves and I went back to my room alone to drink cheap Croatian liquor and watch Step by Step.  I was never able to accept that the guy who played Cody was a wife-beater…that depresses me to this day.

Croatia was and is everything I look for in a land, a couple cities for the rare occasion I want to party, but it is the quiet coastal paradise, relatively untainted by urban/suburban sprawl, filled with friendly homeless people, old-ass nudists, sexy unattainable women, Roman Ruins and Boner-inducing cheeseburgers, that I know I still long for. Go there.

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