In DU-brov-NICK – Dobrovnik, Croatia, Europe
"To Du-BROV-nick," I say as I put my bag into the hold of the bus. The bag watcher is weathered-looking, strong, what I would like to look like at sixty. He smiles, "DU-brov-NICK".
You never know if it's the truth, a joke, or an accent. After a lifetime of quickly learning how to say hello, goodbye and thank you, you just repeat.
"DU-brov-NICK." He smiles warmly. I take this as a good sign, things will go well – eleven hours from now – in DU-brov-NICK. I continue feeling lucky until he demands two euros, then I'm not so sure.
In DU-brov-NICK the woman at information says, "What?"
It's eight in the morning. I'm the first in line and she's yelling at me, "What do you want!" It feels just like home. I ask for a map.
She apparently has matters of State on her mind, She rips it from a pad, flings it at me, says, "Take it, GO!"
There's no one behind me in line. She's stuck in a tiny room. There's nowhere for either of us to go. She squints at me. "What do you want from me – now?"
"Which way is the hostel?"
She circles the fortress (It's labeled, "The fortress", there's a little picture next to it – of a fortress). Even I know this can't be right.
I wonder about her life. I call her a bitch, she calls me insane. Then I get a coffee and find the bus.
On the bus I read, Cruise Ships coming to Dubrovnick, 2010. I think, why does everyplace eventually sell mariachi hats?
I needn't have worried of over-development, the town is already a yea olde ice cream shop, full of Russians screaming at each other between licks, the Dalmations cheerfully overcharging everyone.
They're all stuck here, I'm the one who made a big effort, who took trains and planes and buses. Why? Why romance a fortress? Fortress dwellers don't like you, they don't like anyone – remember, remember, remember this.
I settle into part of a rock, lay out my towel, look at the sea and forget everything – again.