We’ve woken at about eight and there’s only one word to describe it as I open my eyes and that’s ‘hot!’ The cicadas singing tell me the day will be hot and long. We breakfast on juice, fruit and homemade bread and the walk around the garden has us admiring pomegranates that weigh up to a kilo each once ready Rina is proud to say. We pick, peel and nibble on fresh almonds and stroll past capers growing wild out of the rocks, fig trees that are one hundred years old spread low and grapevines scrambling along wires keep the sun off the terraces.
That gate is a hundred years old because my GrandFather put it there…Rina wants us to know it all…and I want to hear it.
Luka was my Grandfather’s brother and Rina’s Father. One of the five brothers who came to NZ leaving behind five sisters with Josip and Katica, their parents. My Grandfather, also one of the five brothers never returned to Croatia. He said NZ was his home now and had no desire to return, but he was an old man by then. I can think of many reasons why someone wouldn’t travel that far way back then, but I wonder what he would make of the families pilgrimages, one after the other to discover where he and his brothers had journeyed from.
This morning Rina shows us the hundred year old gate that was put up by Josip and the way the stairs are unevenly placed leading up to it. It was done on purpose she explained so if a thief tried to come in the night he would trip and fall and hopefully hurt himself. That’s just like the castle steps I tell Tanja. She’s never heard this before.
They show us where the different animals were kept. Goats and chickens over here, horse over there…Rina is remembering from her childhood. She shows us where the gunfire is supposed to have hit during the Second World War the new bit added onwhen the house was burnt down and they lost everything. The house was made of stone and most of the main structure remained intact but of course anything wooden burnt. They fled to the caves having had prior warning and returned to find their house destroyed as was everyone’s. The fire burnt for close on three weeks as the cellar had been filled recently with the years worth of oil harvested, pressed and cellared. They lost it all.
The house was divided into four for the four siblings to have space each to return for holidaying and each has done varying degrees of modernisation and change but keeping the traditional stone look and and sympathetic with the houses humble beginnings. A new roof and veranda cover this year makes each outside space that much more beautiful as well as useful.
This is the view from where we swam and sunbathed. Water is completely clear to the bottom for ages. The day is spent eating and relaxing. This feels like we have just got to our holiday destination!