I woke early for my last chance to catch the morning sunrise and missed it again! By 5.30am the sun was well and truly in the sky. Of course we see the sun all day. Bold and beautiful. Beating out its rays. It won’t let me sleep and still I can’t catch it as it starts it’s daily journey. Something I have seen a lot more of than usual tho is the moon, and here is last nights moon taken from our terrace.
So after a late night I wake to the heat of the day already reflecting off the terrace and filtering through the grapes. Breakfast as usual. We have a struggle to fit everything in our bag and I decide to give Mirna my sunhat which is too tight and hot, as well as my poi. No one at all wants to teach me to dance, so that’s the end of that. We play the music and Mirna does her best but I’m sure she will be good after just a few practises. She will learn much quicker than I!
Slobodan sits beside me at the breakfast table and everyone is still trying to push more food into us. “I have put on four kilos”, he says as if it’s my fault, then adds “because of you”. I laugh and pat my belly. “I think I have too” I say. He leans a little closer and smiling says quietly “don’t eva come back” and leans back with a cheeky grin. Slobodan you have been very special and made me laugh so often this is a fitting goodbye…I love it!
I had given my pounamu to Tanja as she left NZ to give to Slobodan three years ago as she hadn’t been able to find one that was just right but Slobodan tells me he hates anything around his neck. Tanja says she wears it occasionally. When Tanja brought it out a few days ago she is holding it in her hand and I feel like Gollum as I eye it hungrily. I can hardly look away. She passes it over to me and I can’t help myself as I quickly slip it over my neck and feel the familiar weight as the warmth from her hand makes it stick to my sweaty body.
“I will wear it for a few days” I tell her. Each day I find my hand slipping up to hold it and run my fingers over the sharp edges and rub the smooth front bulge of it. It is still beautiful and I have missed it. I’m wondering what will happen as we leave, but this morning I look at the absolutely beautiful one the children gave me as we left and put that on. It’s gentle curve fits neatly around my heart and weighing less it feels better. I realise my old one is familiar but it is no longer mine. It’s been nice wearing it, but now it feels like it is pulling and I take it off and slip it into my pocket.
At breakfast I hand it to Tanja. This is meant to stay with you I say. “Are you sure you shouldn’t take it home as I don’t wear it often” she asks.”It’s meant to be with you” I answer “may be it will be right for Bruno.” “Can you give it to him” she motions as she passes it back to me. Soon Bruno joins us and I hand it to him telling him about NZ’s greenstone and why we call it pounamu. I tell him some pieces pass for hundreds of years through families. That you can’t buy it for yourself, but must be given it and I am giving this one to him. I explain the shape of it tells others he is a worker. The shape is like an adze or an axe and that I have worn it for many years now, and I am passing it to him to wear. Even if he doesn’t wear it all the time I hope he will feel comfortable wearing it in the future. He has my love with him every day now.
He takes it and feels the weight in his hand. He looks at it while I am talking and before I have finished he has put it around his neck and done it up. Bruno has very god English and doesn’t need translation. He lets it fall onto his chest testing it’s balance. It looks nice on him. He looks happy and is smiling. That was perfect and I hope he does really like it rather than discard to a dusty draw in the fickle life of a teenager.
It’s time to leave and we stand for photo after photo. I’m trying not to cry too much but it’s hard. I lean down to hug Milan. He is one of the most beautiful older men I have ever met. He is gentle and has taken every opportunity to ask about our lives in NZ with his limited English. He tries to draw himself to standing and I am about to tell him to stay down but Tanja say he wants to stand for me, so I leave him as he gathers his bulk up and supports himself on his stick. He goes to say something and I see he has tears. His lips are quivering. He starts with Bon and Tanja finishes for him. “Bon Voyage” she says also tears in her eyes now. I nod that I understand. Rina is hugging me at every opportunity and I am especially sad as these two very special people I may never see again. I hope their final years are a long way ahead and peaceful. One thing there is no doubt about, and that is that they will always be surrounded by family.
I write thru tears now and can barely see the page as I type. Good luck reading this guys!
We hurry to the ferry in true Croatian style as everything is last minute. I hug Zarko and Mirjana but we will see them in a few days time in Zargreb so we laugh and say “see you soon!” One more for Slobodan. “Come to NZ” I say as we part. Mirna is clinging to me throughout. Rina has pressed a beautiful bunch of flowers she has picked for me from her garden and the scent of Rosemary is strong and anchors me as tears stream down my face as we hug yet again.
Just before going on the ferry I look for Tanja and we are both crying. We hold each other tightly. “Say we’ll see each other again” she demands. “I hope so”, I reply but she pulls me out from our hug and looks me in the eye. “Promise” she says “promise!” “I promise” I blubber through tears. I really hope we can meet again. With just minutes to spare I tell Gilbert we should go up top and quickly dash up the stairs so we can maybe wave goodbye but once we get up there we see the front is roped off. Damn I say looking around to see if there’s access another way when we we hear. “Teretcia!” Rina is shouting. I look over the side and there they are waving. Small figures below us. We wave enthusiastically. Gilbert said “yell something down in Croatian” I’m not going to yell Yabagar which has been our ‘cheers’ for a week. It means “fuck it’ and Rina has delighted in our mispronunciation of words so meaning something completely different. This one stuck. I should have yelled “cappuccino” just for fun which I used a lot to let them know I am tired of trying and getting it wrong. I yell nothing and am crying again…
The boat starts to move and we are off. I watch them make their way back to their cars. I watch each ones walk. Turn of head. Even as I write this I can hear their voices. They are imprinted on me now and there will be no forgetting.
Wherever we go from now on will pale in comparison to the true feeling of home we have had here. Dovra jenia my Croatian family. Till we see you again.