It was Summer Bank Holiday in the UK, so I thought I'd take a break from the old work routine and go on holiday for a bit. You know, have a lie in, read a good book and generally enjoy what would inevitably be a rainy day. Then I woke up and realised that I was still here, and I could pretty much do what ever outdoorsy thing I wanted because sunshine! There was stirring outside as someone decided that nets needed bringing in so, instead of being cross about being awake, I decided to embrace the morning.
The village was bathed in golden morning light as I quietly launched one of Marija's kayaks into the glassy water. The bottom of the sea was bluely visible until I was well beyond the protective stone harbour walls, and I enjoyed the sensation of easy silent paddling. There were no power boats to worry about and I was keeping an eye on 7am Hanibal; he didn't mind and we didn't come to blows because I was exploring the watery caves of Ruda Island by the time he chugged past.
I struck out for Lopud, with fond memories of the last time I did this. It had been my birthday and the night before the contrary trio had hit the rum badly. So the hangover had been ferocious - my brother had set the spanking pace and we had blindly followed him, hoping he'd find coffee and cake somewhere. We struck gold at our destination and the resultant caffeine, sugar and cold water hit us beautifully. By the time we had got back to Šipan, we'd felt almost human again!
Anyway, there was no head cloudiness on Monday and it was a lovely morning to have coffee and fresh doughnut by the sea. With a flash of inspiration, I picked up an extra bun for a man-who-might-appreciate-it back home and popped it in my bag. I then thought about wine for later and took a detour to the tiny market. As I was in a kayak I thought better of the huge 3 litre bottle on offer and sensibly only bought a couple of normal bottles. Imagine developing a leak and losing the cargo?! Or what if I was boarded by pirates? Who knows what might have happened.
On my shopping trip, I'd clocked a poster advertising a concert of classical music in the church.I had a small splash around on the sandy beach, giggled again at the memory of an ex-flatmate's ability to clamber into a stationary kayak, and headed home. As I paddled back I thought about the music and was determined to try to make the concert...this would mean a begging of a favour and I wondered if it was possible. Does a bun count as pre-emptive bribery?
The appreciative one was having a coffee after a unsuccessful bout of net reeling. I think he was touched, frankly I was ready to go get out of my wet shorts, so I had scooted off as he was mid-munch. I had a relatively quiet day and after making myself useful, decided to mention that I wanted to go to Lopud for a concert, and please may I have a lift back. Looking up from the plateful of sardines that I'd prepared, he fixed me with an exasperated look.
It is now dark enough for night fishing so they were going out. If they had a boatful of fish, they were not going to wait for me, and if they were out until 1am, then I would just have to wait. Therefore no guaranteed lift from the landlord. The best offer I could get on a water taxi was 250 kuna and I had also checked AirBnB for a room overnight. Basically, going out here is as inconvenient as going out in Bristol if you live in Yate/Chipping Sodbury. Except that there you're paying £25 for a theatre ticket and £50 for a taxi...scratch that. I'd rather be here. So bravely setting off on the 5.50pm ferry I took a leap of faith, trusting that I'd get home somehow.
I arrived in Lopud in dry clothes, which made a change from the kayak soaking from earlier. With a small amount of foresight I popped into the Lafodia Hotel lobby where I happen to know they have a library of books for guests. I nabbed the only English one available - seriously, people, do you not read on holiday? - and scarpered to the nearest pizza place for a quiet couple of pre-concert hours. It does seem criminal to eat pizza on an island but I do get endless amazing fresh fish at home, so I never feel too guilty. On my evening stroll, I chuckled at the outlandish ways I could get home; perhaps a wheelie bin and paddle; a tractor engine powered pallet raft; a plastic sunbed contraption?
Some lovely friendly English people were sat nearby and we had an excellent natter which was an excellent way to pass the time. *waves*
In the event the concert was spectacular and there was no fault to be found in the fluting, cello-ing and piano-ing. I could happily have listened to them in St John's Smith's Square, or similar intimate venue in London. There is something very special when you get a talented cellist and flautist together, and the instruments just sing. Again, the piano makes an uneasy third in such a trio but it seemed to have a rare understated delicacy which didn't dominate.
Moment of truth. I wandered up to the far end of the harbour and pondered the wisdom of a glass of wine. I decided against it, and bought a bottle of orange pop instead. I had no idea how long I would be waiting. There were no messages, which was both promising and not. Boats came and went, my book was read and finished, and I ambled back to a comfy looking park bench. It was gone half 11 by then, and then I saw the musicians walking past...as a final act of desperation, shyness overcoming lunacy, I wondered if they were going my way. Maybe English subtlety is truly unknown here, as I said;
'Hello, thank you for the lovely concert tonight. I wonder if you are going anywhere near Suđurađ as I appear to be stranded here?'
They were going back to Dubrovnik. Oh well. Perhaps a Croatian would have got a better response with a more direct question.
A few more centuries went by and cafes were closing. Then finally I saw boat lights. It was my now extremely cross landlord who had dashed back from a mediocre fishing trip, got in the other boat, and come out to collect his errant guest. He wasn't as annoyed as he was when I punctured his bicycle tyre, but he was definitely not amused. Still, he flung a coat round me and we powered back to Šipan in few minutes. To top it all, when he asked me to throw out the fender, the rope wasn't attached to the boat. Well done Skipper. Least I remembered to hang on to the end.
I reminded him that there was wine in my fridge. He brightened a bit. The problem he has is pretty much the same the world over. Responsibilities, stress, exhaustion, and needing to work in a dangerous and low paid, uncertain industry, when other people are out having fun AND then expect a free taxi service. This is enough to make any person slightly snappy. Helpfully pointing out that classical music wasn't his bag, 'jebeš klassikal music!', I topped up his glass solicitously. I pondered when the next concert on Koločep was. Apparently as 'his most troublesome guest' I'm definitely swimming back from there. Jebem ti majku!