A few months ago I was mildly worried about spending an extended amount of time on an island. Even my flatmate was perhaps a little concerned. A few weeks in Split, with a jaunt to Zabgreb, has certainly kept me in a busy state of mind. On this rather impromptu trip to Lastovo I've realised just how prepared I am for the Dalmatian way of life. Three days here and frankly I'm ready to share all I have with others, smoke for a living, live on the beach and go feral. Whilst nonetheless maintaining excellent hygiene and beauty standards, obviously.
I started this post in the only konoba open in Ubli. I love this off-season time of year, it completely removes decision making from seaside food venues which all serve variants on meat/fish, potatoes and salad. I'm continuing to write sat on a fresh green and yellow hillside, looking out at a sapphire sea.
It occurs to me that I must find out how to announce myself in restaurants. Saying 'I'm hungry' to a three locals watching the footie whilst smoking is truly special. I recognised a few words but 'pička' when Hungary scored was pretty clear. I'd already watched the sun go down from the side of the road, so my romantic side had already been indulged. At this point I urgently needed steak, homemade chips, ajvar, cabbage salad and multiple beers due to the 22km I'd walked and run. The waiter obliged.
Over espresso and a sweet liqueur, he told me he was only here for the Easter and Summer holidays. Like most of the student population of Croatia, he was in Zagreb, studying economics. I've never met so many budding economists... perhaps it's the sign of a failing economy? Who knows, but he reckoned ten days here on Lastovo was quite enough for anyone!
It's sad, apparent they have quite a few jobs going here, so my landlady explained. For instance teachers are in short supply, but dealing with the peace and quiet, and the small island life can be challenging. Another lady had returned this week to see her family home for the first time in twelve years. She only lives in Split but I guess when the car ferry takes five hours, it can make a brief visit quite inconvenient. And sadly the new seaplane is too expensive for locals. It is mindbogglingly isolated here and yet I've never felt more looked after!
I dashed back to my place for lunch. Jelena and her family had kept me some of their Uskrs chicken, ham, and incredible homemade baked pasta, with salad on the side. There was a thick slice of sesame topped rich bread, and a selection of chocolate cakes and nutty biscuits for dessert. With wine ... Once again, the hospitality of people is beyond anything this becoming-much-less cynical Londoner could imagine.
So far the highlights of my day have been a gift of fresh cake, a yellow freesia in my hair, saying Sretan Uskrs, the slightly chilly breeze on my skin, listening to the car ferry leave, and being mesmerised by the sun twinkling on the sea. I'm feeling utterly liberated. Maybe I should get out more, or on the other hand, maybe not. Perhaps an early trip to Šipan is in order?