Monday, May 22, 2006

From Dubrovnik: a day of rest

A day of ice cream, pretty dresses and church for some, of kicking the ball around, of conversations.

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hungry for a roll?

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after a wedding

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the reward for sitting still

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women talk, cat sleeps

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a boy, a ball, a message on the wall

A Sunday here should feel different than, say, a Sunday in Marsala or Zagreb. Dubrovnik is a tourist destination. Tourism does not rest on this day, it speeds up and explodes, only to recede again at dusk, as day trippers return to their buses, their ships, their more distant hotels. The city becomes quiet only then, much to the chagrin of the restauraneurs, who survey their empty tables and wonder why, somehow, they have missed out on the madness.

We succumb to the pressure to do not much of anything on this last full day in the city. Breakfast, outside again, on a windy but dappled by sunlight terrace, lasts almost two hours. A stroll through town and it is time to think about lunch (pizza, thin crust, delicate sauce, sizzling cheese. Delicious).

Cappuccino follows and then, of course, a siesta, because one little cappuccino is not going to fight off the overwhelming desire to rest in the afternoon. Out on the terrace. With something to read.

It had been determined early on that we should scale Dubrovnik’s wall just before it closes in the evening. Empty now, against a receding sun and very very beautiful.

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one last look, toward the setting sun

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the main street grows quieter

Then a double and very protracted Summer Festival aperitif and a walk to the designated favorite eating place, Mediterano.

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tables hugging the cathedral wall

Mario is there – our waiter from earlier in the week. He is surprised to see us again.

The inevitable question is asked – where are we from? This always astonishes me, because I think, to these English speaking Croats, it must be so obvious. The big A, emblazoned on our foreheads.

But there is always the registered surprise when we respond with the A word.

So far! You have traveled so far to be here?

And even greater surprise that we should choose to do the entire family vacation in Dubrovnik, that we are not boat people, here for a day or two and on to the next port and the next; that instead, we are here and only here, this is it – designated UNESCO city, designated Camic vacation spot.

Are you the owner of this place, Mario?
No, my pal Marinko is. He is the cook. You have made his day by being here again. But you know, we work together. I do not work for him, we are friends. Only we are so new and we worry about how it will turn out.

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the cook and the waiter

And what reassurance can I offer? None. Mario, Marinko, you have a winner here. Your seafood is so sublime that you should not worry! I will tell everyone to come and eat here. I will make you famous!

I, of course, can say none of this. We talk about the fish of the Adriatic, about the difference between octopus, squid and calamari, we drink the Dalmatian wine, we thank them profoundly and we leave.