Wednesday 11 January 2017

Protecting people counts for everything

This follows on from my previous post. Dubrovnik's St Nicholas' Walk was the pinnacle of this perfection of collective heart. I've covered my reactions to the historic suffering of the people in this place in previous posts. But this time I got an opportunity to join in the remembrance of 6th December 1991.

As a special cultural site, Dubrovnik believed itself relatively safe from the destructive war which was raging in the region. It was not to be. On this day the people saw their beautiful city shelled continuously, with the most vulnerable in society in grave danger as they struggled to unexpectedly evacuate.

As my dear friends here have talked about their determination to fight for their land, way of life, it has encouraged me to question my passions. What would it take for me to don a uniform and fight? I have frequently asked those who fought 'why would a foreign invading force want to do this' but they can only shrug in collective anger, despair, determination and incomprehension. Pride and fierce protectiveness of their nearest and dearest drove normal people to abnormal acts. It's their city therefore they protect it and its inhabitants, just as they would their home and family.

We wound our way slowly up to the Srđ, the fortress and museum. Pausing at each of the stations of the Cross, you couldn't fail to be moved at the chanting and prayer. We followed a little behind as we were being respectful, and remembering in our own way. With entertaining conversation and exchange of thoughts. I adore this matter-of-fact spirited island woman, and miss her when I'm away.

We had coffee and hot chocolate in the cafe below the cable car. The views from have to be seen to be believed. Totally beyond the scope of words or photos. The city below eased into twilight as the sun slid into the sea. As usual the light was incredible and fireworks unnecessary; the mountains went pink and everything else gold and turquoise. Rather misty-eyed, I followed her towards the easy route down. As locals we didn't pay for the cable car and whooshed over where we'd laboured up earlier.

It was cold without being unpleasant, and we were both peckish. First we headed to the Mexican but it was shut for the season. We turned back. She explained that the fashionable little cocktail bar near there used to be a dark smoky hangout for local old guys. I guess young people drink more sweet alcoholic beverages than regulars drink cheap beer. The best pizza in town was en route to Stradun and it's merits were discussed. We agreed. Pizza!

The contrary being strong in this one, we walked straight past the pizza restaurant, and down into the main part of town. We eventually sat outside at a place called Ludo More. Its speciality is local produce served in a really simple way. Think tapas. But with Dalmatian pršut, cheeses, raw marinaded tuna, anchovies, large capers, olives washed down with fruit liqueurs. We admired the city decorations and watched the festive world go by.

We still had a date with one of the kuhano vino stalls. We'd impressed one of the vendors with our capacity for hot wine on a previous visit. So we headed off there as we had a couple of hours until our 8pm ferry departed. We didn't disappoint. It's fair to say we were a bit merry as we stumbled back to the bus stop to Gruž.

I mean, we were absolutely sober lady citizens. We carried out some essential shopping errands at the pharmacy, kiosk and supermarket. We collapsed onto Postira and decided that it was one of the most wonderful days we'd had in Dubrovnik for a long time.

Just as I think she appreciates my fresh perspective on Croatian history, I am so grateful for her view. Although the day had been about remembering what happened to friends and family, it's about making new memories. As we cautiously enter into 2017, wondering what the heck is going to happen next, we need the certainty of family and friendships. Old and new. Because I'd want to protect them with all my heart.

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