100 Days in Croatia - Week 12-14 - Present and Future

Published on:
September 20, 2023
Iva Sladic Keco

Weeks 12, 13, and 14: Of Shopping Spree, Soul-Searching, and Sweet Reunions

Greetings, dear readers! It's been a while since I penned my reflections on this Croatian adventure. The past three weeks have been relatively stationary, a departure from the nomadic pace of the preceding two months. But while the kilometers traveled may have dwindled, the journey has been one of introspection, imagination, and future planing.

Week 12: A Nostalgic Journey

We kicked off Week 12 with a trip down memory lane, heading from my hometown of Rijeka to the neighboring Italian city of Palmanova. This journey held profound significance, harkening back to my childhood. In those days of Yugoslavia, trips to Italy were akin to pilgrimages.

Yugoslavia's limited import of goods meant we traveled to Italy twice a year, like clockwork. Our mission: to stock up on new Lotto shoes, Nutella, and other essentials for the upcoming school year or summer season. As we drove through Slovenia and reached the now-open, almost neglected border with Italy, memories came rushing back.

Back then, crossing the border was a high-stakes game, a choreography of avoiding taxes or meeting limited quota. Tales of creatively concealing newly purchased goods in every nook and cranny of the car, charming or sometimes bribing border police, or strategically surrendering a portion of your haul while cleverly concealing the rest are staples at family gatherings. But today, it's a straightforward border crossing, void of cloak-and-dagger tactics.

The trip was worth it because it was in a good company of a dear friend and we got some retail therapy in the outlets.

The remainder of the week was a delightful mix of connecting with friends and savoring the stunning Kvarner coast. Reuniting with cousins and deepening bonds with my sister and mom. Yet, the ever-changing beds each week continued to play tricks with my sleep patterns.

Morning swim and coffee in Kostrena, RIjeka
Reunion No 15

Weeks 13 and 14: The Return to Kutina and Reflections

With my batteries recharged in Rijeka, my boy and me headed back to Kutina, where the grand finale of our Croatian adventure awaits. Last two weeks were dedicated to wrestling with the interior design of the house while my parents-in-law focused on the final stages of their vineyard work.

Navigating land negotiations and searching for skilled artisans to breathe life into my design vision brought a fresh set of challenges. And that's where the mental acrobatics began. On one hand, the constant urge to do more to justify my separation from my family was relentless. Yet, on the other, there was an equally potent force that at times held me back.

Contemplating a possible future life in Croatia became a recurring theme. My body reveled in the fresh air, the bounty of nature, the farm-fresh delights, the charm of small towns, and the tranquility of remote yet well-connected villages. However, a conundrum emerged. My mind sometimes struggled with the slower pace, occasional apathy, a culture of blame, and the spectre of narrow-mindedness.

As a wanderer at heart, being grounded didn't come naturally. While Croatia was indeed wonderful, the notion of being confined to the familiar, the comfortable, and the mundane tugs at my adventurous soul.

And then, there's our children. They can embrace Croatia as home, and demonstrate independence and genuine interest in the local culture. However, they hold a deep affection for our little island in the South China Sea, and the thought of leaving it behind stirs waves of nostalgia an sadness.

Education posed yet another puzzle. Integrating into the local system here wouldn’t be straightforward, and the idea didn't exactly thrill me. International schools, on the other hand, required a substantially higher income than the local average—a financial bridge that needed crossing.

In the grand scheme of things, it turns out that the economics of life in Croatia, like anywhere else in the world, are good but only if you're earning enough.

After 93 days spent in Croatia, I can confidently say that life here is lovely, but perhaps not yet ready to be permanent for me/us. The dream scenario, it seems, would be to have these three months every year—a delightful slice of the Croatian pie.

Memorable Moments

Amidst these reflections, several moments stood out in last three weeks. A reunion with my Design School comrades in Zagreb after two decades was a true delight. While it's possible that we might have consumed a tad too much alcohol, the stories and laughter flowed freely.

My favourite Croatian designers, Generation '97
we were and stayed freeeee

Another highlight was exploring the Moslavina bike trails—a soul-nourishing experience that allowed us to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the region. In addition we found an took care of the lost dog.

Biking with my boy
Saving the dog
Exploring Moslavina

As we approach the final week, we're gearing up for grape picking and preparing for a final crescendo. The adventure isn't over just yet.

Until next week…with love, i

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