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Jack Frost

CROATIA | Monday, 15 December 2008 | Views [643]

Sretan Bosic

Sretan Bosic

Nov 21, 2008

Jack Frost came to visit 3 days ago and we think it might be here to stay! As soon as the sun goes down it drops to below 0º and when we get up in the morning there is a frosty carpet over everything. If we leave the washing on the line only 10 minutes after sunset it freezes too!

But we are keeping nice and warm in our little cottage and the girls are learning the value of keeping the door closed… Although it can be quite difficult to get motivated to get out of the house!

Today we booked our ski holiday over Christmas in a small town, Flattach in Austria, which is very exciting and it means we can also start planning the last 6 weeks of our trip now we have fixed dates. The itinerary, at the moment, looks like Budapest, Ljubljana, Flattach, South of France?, Costa Brava, Granada, Barcelona, Brighton/Oxford & London.

I haven’t told you about the meat situation here. I think I told you that pork and cabbage is the staple diet – shame you can’t get soy sauce ‘cos it would be a great dim sim combination. Well, it’s now pig killing season. The pigs that have been fattened up since last spring are now for the chop. All over town, and the entire district it seems, there are families busily making sausage, boiling the fat for lard, hanging the carcass and carving up meat in their backyards. The girls were revolted at first but now it is such a common sight that they don’t even notice, except for the smell! There is no butcher in Gvozd and fresh meat only comes twice a week so having your own stash is pretty important, I guess.

Dec 8, 2008

We spent a day up on Petrova Gora last weekend. It was the most amazing monument to WW2 partisans built in the 50’s. It was used as a army hospital by the Serbs during the ‘homeland’ war and since then has been totally neglected by the powers that be and has been completely vandalised and ransacked. From the top you can see across to Bosnia and back to Zagreb and a 360 degree panorama of the area. It is hard to imagine how such a significant memorial could be left to crumble. On top there is also an illegal TV transmitter placed by the main TV station in Croatia who have locked up part of the monument for the control room but pay no fees/licenses, nada. Typifies the way things work around here. A nice backhander to a local somebody and jobs done. Of course if you can’t pay the backhander or are a different ethnicity to the person ‘in charge’ you have no chance. There is also the historic partisan village/hideaway on this mountain range, which was a museum before the recent war. It has also been left to rack n ruin - a very beautiful and moving place completely deserted and abandoned – shameful.

We are in Murter for the weekend, a small island between Zadar and Sibenik. To get here we drove across the mountain range that trails the coast through a howling storm on dark windy roads shared with semis. On some hair-pin bends we had to stop to allow the semis coming in the opposite direction manoeuvre around the corner. But the storm cleared and the weather here is positively beautiful and such a contrast from inland. It is about 10 degrees warmer, the sky is blue and we don’t need a fire! We have spent the weekend out walking, eating and drinking plenty and the girls have watched a healthy dose of TV. We are here with Maja & Predrag, the chiefs at Suncokret and Sheena, another volunteer from Scotland. The house belongs to Maja’s parents and is a haven for her and Predrag from the politics, strife and daily worries of running an NGO in an impoverished and divided community.

We had our first Thanksgiving last week and will be definitely introducing this feast into our calendar at home. YUM! And yesterday was St Nicholas’ Day. The girls woke to their shoes filled with lollies! St Nick rewards good children who keep their shoes clean with lollies but if you are naughty you get smacked with a stick! Thankfully Eva took this holiday very seriously and during the week lined up our shoes and cleaned and polished them all!

Last week a new big supermarket opened in Gvozd, (The old one went bankrupt just before we arrived here.) It was big day with a ‘kransky’ sizzle and more people than I have ever seen here lined up for a sausage. The new supermarket is very flash and sells things like butter and meat which you can’t get daily anywhere else. It also has a good selection of fresh vegies which Maja thinks won’t last as no one will buy them! At least we are well fed over our last 2 weeks here.

We are travelled home from Murter through 2 tiny towns, Donji Lapac and Donji Srb, where Maja supervises 2 more community volunteer projects. They are in a spectacular countryside, surrounded by enormous mountains and even though they are only a couple of hours from Zagreb they are incredibly isolated. Both towns were mostly Serbian before the war and only the elderly have returned. The appear to be almost deserted and would make a great set for a deserted town in a western movie. We took a shortcut through Bosnia to get back to Gvozd which was fun especially when we couldn’t find our papers for the car! Thankfully, the border guard said it was OK as we were travelling with children (!?) and only passing through Bosnia!

This is our last week of volunteering. It’s gonna be a big one with a quick trip to Zagreb with our girls and 2 girls from the centre to see High School Musical 3 on Wednesday afternoon – yay! Big plans for our last night – the screening of 2 short films by Ruby made in Gvozd and karaoke! And get this – Ruby asked if we could stay an extra night so she could have one more Saturday night standing out in the park in –2 degrees to hang out with the local kids!!! May wonders never cease. It’s going to be very sad leaving here and we will definitely be including a visit to Gvozd in future travel plans for sure.

 

 

 

 

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