It’s another beautiful day in Vodice – clear blue sky, little wind, bright sun and about 60
degree high. Time for a walk into town, made easier by the gradual healing of my big toe, which has been infected as the nail makes its way off the skin. Ouch! (Probably more information than anyone needed to know.)
I had two tasks today. First, I needed to use an ATM; second, I needed to print out my travel documents as I’m not traveling with a printer. I didn’t remember seeing anyplace in town where I could do this but thought I’d take another look around. My hope is that Zdravko has a printer in his downstairs office but I wanted to try doing this task on my own. The walk is about a mile, past all the large, stone and cinder block houses, all with their vegetable gardens, rosemary bushes and olive trees.
The ATM was easy. Same process as in the States. English is one of the default languages. Took out what I hope will be enough kunas to make it through Nov. 21, when I leave. However, I could not find anyplace that looked like it did any printing.
My next trip into town will be for a haircut. It’s getting gnarly.
On the way back, I stopped at a pekara for a pastry, opting for a cherry strudel ($1.40). The shop is right across the street from the grocery, Konzum.
A Little History
Since a friend mentioned that she had a completely false impression of this country (backwards, poor farmers, etc.), I thought a little background might be in order.
Croatia covers 21,851 square miles. Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast is has about 1,200 islands and is characterized by its rocky, mountainous terrain. The population is about 4.3 million; the main religion is Roman Catholicism.
Until 1991, the country was part of Yugoslavia. That year, it declared independence, after which came the 4-year Croatian War of Independence. Even cities on the coast, such as Zadar, were bombarded during the war. Today, Croatia ranks high among Central European nations in terms of education, health, quality of life and economic growth. Per capita income is $15,633.
Croatia is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the WTO, and is waiting for approval to join the European Union. It has had troops in Afghanistan. Tourism is a prime source of income during the summer, with Croatia ranked the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. The Croatian government has been rapidly building the country’s infrastructure, as evidenced by the new highway from Zagreb to the coast, which includes several tunnels bored through the mountains, one 5 kilometers long. The country has universal healthcare and free education through high school. By all measures, the Croatian health system ranks far above the United States, while costs are far below the U.S.
There is a thriving wine-making industry, with many individuals also growing their own grapes and making their own wines. Olive oil also is produced heavily, and again, many individuals grow their own olive trees and make their own olive oil. Jams made from native cherries and figs also are prevalent. The country also produces several fruit-based brandies and liquors, including several made from local cherries.
At least along the coast, the natural beauty is spectacular. The old towns in almost every coastal city are a must-see for visitors – or at least one or two before it gets monotonous. All the people I’ve met have been friendly and very helpful, although I don’t get much eye contact from strangers on the street. The women working in the grocery never seem to smile, either, but that might just be because it’s not a great job and probably has long hours. Enough edumacation!