Echoes of Roman history
Indulge me, I’m a sucker for ruins, especially when they sit unobtrusively in the midst of a everyday life, unsigned, unsung, unnamed. The walls here are what remains of a 5th Century Roman palace at the entrance to Polače, a small village of 100 or so inhabitants, a village that caters almost exclusively to the yacht traffic that comes here to moor in the safety of its harbour, and barely makes any kind of fuss of the ruins. What’s special about these walls is that they’re not special, not by Croatian standards anyway. In Croatia, it seems, you’re never too far from remarkably well-preserved echoes from the past. Ruins like the ones at Polače are, thankfully, everywhere. At Pomena, for example, the remains of a Roman shipyard can be explored — underwater, making it a very popular destination for divers as well as the well-camouflaged scrimmages of nudists who descend upon its shores.
Comfortable in their skin
On the subject of nudists, lest anyone think I’ve been too disparaging of them in recent posts, a generalization, but I think a fair one: people in Europe are commendably far, far more comfortable in their skin than, well, than just about anywhere else. Gardening, taking a boat ride? Wear a Speedo. Walking into the hotel lobby? Who needs more than boxer shorts, flip flops and shades?
Of course I could have been more explicit with my examples here, but you get the point. I just don’t think there are many places in America where you’d see this. There’s nowhere to hide a 9mm or a Glock, for starters. Which raises an interesting point.
Of the two basic Freudian drives, we in America seem to have generally accepted the death one as more palatable and presentable than ‘the other one’. Not so in Europe. US network television will tell you all you need to know about this: night after night, death aplenty at the end of the remote control’s beam, but never so much as a nipple or arse crack from the always-attractive detectives called upon to solve the always-elaborate murder crimes (though we’re assured there’s enough how’s-your-father taking place off camera). Death, torture, crime, violence, grief: these are the bread and butter of our prime time television in the US. Nipples and buttocks, on the other hand, are tucked away in a seedy, prurient corner of single-purpose late-night television, available for an additional fee and only after the kids — who’ve had their fill of gun violence and death for the night — are tucked away and safely dreaming (of green fields and ponies?). Why? Does it have everything, or anything, to do with the way America (at least, white, colonial America) began — as a firstly puritanical, then violent, break from religious governance? It can’t be that reducible, that simple. Why then are we simultaneously so fiercely proud of our guns, and so woefully strait-laced about the phalluses they’re modeled after? I believe it has little to do with the Pilgrims and everything to do with The Walt Disney Company. I just can’t prove it yet…
.. I can’t prove the Disney conspiracy I just made up, and no one really knows, so to lighten the cogitative burden but stick with the same theme, a quick game of “Where’s Wilma?”*.
* Disclaimer: Wilma is an overweight nudist minding her own business. She in no way intends to infringe upon the copyright interests of the Where’s Waldo? and Where’s Wally? franchises. All rights reserved.
Neighbourhoods, standards, and double standards
The stretch of Pomena on Mljet that lies before you is the posh section of the island. The other section, the rough side of town, where we stayed, is the same size, situated behind me as this picture is taken. No matter how small a village, it seems this will always happen; must be human nature to create standards. In the low rays of the evening, yachts pull up, those who are sailing the yachts freshen up and then alight on the shore in their capris, boat shoes, and light pink collared shirts, stepping into one of the restaurants (almost all those buildings are restaurants) to dine on expensive seafood. I know it was expensive seafood because outside several of these restaurants were fish wells: rectangular structures dug into the flooring, half-filled with water, and alive with crabs, lobsters, and fish — presumably ready to be chosen on the way in to the restaurant and prepared fresh. It begs the question though: would we ever do this with chicken, or with cows? “I’ll have the leg of lamb please — and I’ll take that lamb over there waiter, yes, that one in the corner; now please go in the back, kill it, drain its blood away and dispose of its intestines then serve it to me fresh,” doesn’t seem like a request that’ll be uttered any time soon at a restaurant anywhere I can think of. It must be human nature to create double standards.
Astronomers, please cut me a little slack — I think we were about a day away from capturing the true “super moon” event when we visited Dubrovnik’s Old Town, but it was still an impressive if inadequately photogenic experience to see it hanging bright and large over the glistening streets and walls of Dubrovnik.
Not much of a story to tell, but it would be remiss not to give at least a passing mention to these skittish little bastards, probably of the genus Colias, since there were so many of them — but only on a very select few bushes in parts of Croatia. There are lots of them, and they know what they like. That’s their story.
Cliffside in Croatia: left hand on the nose in silent prayer, right hand digging permanent nail marks into Kevin’s leg. That’s how we roll.