100 Days in Croatia - Week 1 - Family and Football

Published on:
June 20, 2023
Iva Sladic Keco

🌴 Greetings from Croatia friends! 🌴

Week 1 in this stunning paradise has been an absolute blast, well, most of the time! My mind has been a whirlwind of desires, like "I want to do this" and "I want to do that," but hey, who can blame me? I didn’t have opportunity to plan this long stay (100 days) in old homeland for last 18 years, since I left for China.

Since we arrived we're showered with family care, love, and delicious food. Reconnecting with family is always a maze of complications and mixed emotions, but hey, that's what makes it interesting, right?

There's the delicate balance of catching up on missed moments and trying not to step on any emotional landmines. We're slowly unraveling the complexities of our shared histories and finding common ground amidst the differences. It's a dance of understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Sometimes, it feels like we're all speaking different languages, both figuratively and literally!

My sister and I had a 10-minute debate on how to cook pasta for lunch. Who knew pasta could cause such a stir? How much pasta do you need for 7 hungry souls? How much water should we add? Should we start cooking right away or wait for half an hour? And don't even get me started on which pot to use! In our usual setting, we'd just throw pasta in a pot and go with the flow. But I guess it's necessary bonding when you haven't seen each other for ages and you're navigating someone else's kitchen.

I am staying at my parents in law vineyard house with my mom, while our youngest kid is enjoying being spoiled by grandparents in their house 20 min away in town Kutina.

The weekend was an absolute whirlwind! Two nights in a row with minimal sleep (averaging 5 hours), non-stop chit-chat, eating, and perhaps a bit of indulgence in beverages. I ventured to Zagreb to pick up the my incredible niece from university on Friday, while the rest of my side of the family joined  the next day.

Oh, the conversations I had with 20 year old until 2 AM on Friday! She's a remarkable young woman, a mix of resilience and sensible, but audacious honesty. I have no doubt she'll find her way and live a life filled with incredible adventures. I'm determined to be her support system throughout her journey.

As always, our time together revolved around food and more food. I had countless discussions about what to cook, what to buy, and what to bake. On Saturday, we had an epic barbecue extravaganza that lasted the entire afternoon. Sunday morning was dedicated to my culinary skills, and shortly after our bellies were satisfied, everyone bid their farewells.

Now, don't get me wrong, I wish we had more entertainment and diverse experiences besides just eating, drinking, and quite a bit of complaining. But hey, in general, the good vibes are flowing! We are happy we are together and excited about time we will share . We had great conversations, especially about house renovations and future plans.

Struggle is real, especially for our parents.  They're secretly battling financial struggles, on top of health issues from a lifetime of hard physical work.

Oh, and did I mention how crazy expensive Croatia has become? I did some grocery shopping a couple of times, and let me tell you, I was shooketh! The prices are nearly Hong Kong-level, but the salaries here are like 10 times smaller. Yikes!

OK, now back to the special moments.

One of the highlights was taking my niece to train station. It was like something out of a movie. A desolate train station with nothing but birds chirping in the background, one old building, two railway employees, and two old linden trees in blossom. There were no bustling crowds or lively scenes i am used to in Asia, just three of us standing there enjoying gentle linden flower smell watching small limping doe crossing the rails in blistering sun and overhearing “train will be late”. It was like a moment straight out of a suspense thriller.

You see, the trains in Croatia have a charm of its own. It is like stepping into a time machine, where the clatter of the wheels and the rhythmic sway of the carriages whisk you away to a bygone era. Amidst the nostalgic charm of the old train, there was an unexpected surprise: breathtaking graffiti art adorning the train cars. Every inch of the train's exterior was transformed into a mesmerising gallery. Such a pleasant surprise.

Now, here's another personal highlight of the first week: our son joined a football training in local club! Initially, it seemed like a lost cause, but my curiosity paid off big time. First we were told trainings are over for the season, but lucky me, I happened to pass by some boys playing and couldn't resist asking questions. Turns out, there were still trainings happening, and Mato could join! You can thank my nosiness for making this happen. 😄

The boy was a bundle of nerves and even had a bit of a sulk when it was time to go. But we mustered up our courage, gave him a gentle nudge, and the coach took extra care of him. He doesn't speak the language fluently. Once he joined the boys on the field, they were super kind and welcoming. The next day, he was raring to go and even wanted to arrive an hour earlier! Unfortunately, there won't be any summer trainings, but we'll explore other fun activities.

By the way, Croatia is going absolutely bonkers over football at the moment. Our national team made it to the finals of the UEFA National League. Sadly, we lost to Spain yesterday, but you can bet the country will be obsessing over it for a while. Go team!

To be honest, I haven't been able to focus 100% on work yet, and all my projects are still in flux. That's why I decided to write this journal entry, hoping to calm my mind and sort things out. And boy, do I have a lot on my plate! I'm juggling ten projects simultaneously: houses renovation, business registration, brand building, client projects, part time homeschooling. Bring it on baby!

Phew! Now that I've spilled it all out here, it doesn't seem as overwhelming. All is in control when you accept there is no control and just do your best everyday.

Stay tuned for next week update from this sunny Croatian paradise! There will be more photos, I promise...and hopefully comment section.

I have to figure out that one. But for now I would love to hear from you so please write!

✨ Sending love and sunshine your way! ✨

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