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  • Niki Harry

Croatia - Back to my roots

My father was spending 3 months in Croatia by himself, and since November is such a dreary month in Canada and John was working, I figured “Why the heck not!”… so I went home to Vinisce for the whole month of November. We usually fly to Germany and drive down, so this was the first time in 26 years that I had flown into Trogir airport. Even though it was November, its was hot and I was disappointed that it was still so hazy, that I did not get a super clear view of the coast. Here we are doing a flyby of SPLIT.

I picked up my little cheap Mitsubishi car from the airport ($400 CAN for the whole month! Cant beat that! and you certainly wont get those prices during the summer months) and I headed straight to OLD TOWN TROGIR. I was somewhat nervous driving here as I have never driven here. Its always John who does the driving. I made my way and parked at the easiest parking lot I know.

It was so strange seeing the place completely empty. During summer, you cannot move through towns from the mass of tourists. I wandered around by myself and headed directly to the mobile phone place to get a SIM card and get myself internet access. Cannot be here without internet! LOL

​As I drove along the coast and to VINISCE, THE VILLAGE I GREW UP IN, I was in awe by the beauty all around me. Even though I was born here and have been here many, many times, seeing it so peaceful, quiet and clean without the masses, was a whole new experience for me. And one that I preferred. I am truly fortunate to have come from such a beautiful place. I always well up with emotion once I arrive to this sign.

​And finally here, to the other place we call home.

The whole month I spent just hanging out with family, wandering around the village, taking different trails to hike, scouting the area, trying to remember certain places that I used to frequent as a child.

The building on the left used to be my school but since has closed. They still use the auditorium for parties and functions and one evening I was invited to a yearly festival where many people turned up. It was extremely messed up on my head but a fantastic experience to be inside again after 45 years!

November is olive picking time. And wow, what a time it is. The whole coast is picking olives. It’s their “bread and butter” if you may. If people are working, this is the time they take vacation time so that they can harvest their olives.Its an amazing experience. Everyone is in the mountains and you can actually hear singing, like in the old traditional way. They pick by hand, using buckets and transferring the olives into large plastic sacks. Everyone is happy, especially if it was a good successful year.

My cousin has over a 100 olive trees spread out all over the place. My father and I, along with a few of her children, picked all 100+ trees in those few weeks… BY HAND. She had over a 1000 lbs of olives and ended up with somewhere around the same amount of liters of oil. Surreal.

My 80 year old father still climbing the trees… with vertigo spells and after having wine for lunch. Such a great idea dad!

​Once the olives have been harvested then the uglier chore is to trim & prune the trees and clean up from under them of any weeds or debris. This is what makes the trees healthy and helps produce more olives next year.

The olives go into huge buckets and water is added to the buckets. They can sit like this until you are finished all the picking. It can be a few weeks. Then you call the olive press company, who come with their big trucks & pick up the olives. You go with them and watch as they put them through a press… and viola! out comes your true extra virgin 1st pressed olive oil. Just like that. Simple. You take your oil home in massive plastic containers and that is that.

The village views from a hiking trail I love to take. I hiked this several times. I can't get enough of these views.

Still so much fruit even at this time. The mandarins, oranges, grapefruits and lemons are harvested at this time also and the trees were loaded with fruit. It amazes me how much produce everyone can grow for themselves. They can’t eat it all fast enough.

These are original old stone houses and how I used to live. There are very few left that are original like this.

Zadar. On the riviera, there is a natural music organ, GREETINGS TO THE SUN, which is created naturally by the waves crashing in. It is so amazing to listen to. They also have this circle of light that constantly changes with rhythm and colours to the sound of the music created by the organ.

I didn’t venture out many places this time around. But one day my cousin and I WENT TO SPLIT to spend the day with our other cousin. We wandered around the green market and the palace grounds and along the riviera just having an enjoyable day by ourselves.

And a month surprisingly flew by, yet I thought I would go stir crazy. But this trip was very different this time. I usually go with John – as a tourist. This time I was there alone, with my father. Back to my roots. I met people I had forgotten about, people I went to school with. I reconnected with the village and the past. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone, to learn some new things, to deal with the local people.

It’s a bit strange as I feel as if I have two completely different identities. Two different names. Two different cultures. Two different languages. Different food. Different landscapes. Different ways of living. But yet I am just one. I am so glad I went as it taught me a lot about myself and can’t wait until I am there again!

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