Fairfield Harbour residents Nancy and Tony Difede headed to Europe in mid-March to begin what was to be a cycling tour of Europe. Immediately upon their arrival, the quarantines began, causing them to make alternative plans. Here is their continued story in Nancy’s words.
“The world will never starve for want of wonders; But only for want of wonder.”
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles, 1909
We celebrated Christmas and rang in the New Year on the Kaštela coastline between Split and Trogir, Croatia. The Adriatic Sea provides a beautiful backdrop for the coastal area. It is surprisingly clear and colorful, but it changes throughout the hours from a smooth mirror to churning waves that breach the shoreline and try to toss the boats off their moorings.
Croatia has more than 1,000 islands along its coastline. Coves, docks, and marinas are crowded with every type of boat from dinghies and charter fleets to mega yachts waiting for high season. Fishing boats and ferries cross paths day and night. Some islands are sparsely populated, while others are packed tightly with villages. The network of railways, bridges, and ferries that connect the regions are vital to this ancient country.
Venetian fortresses were placed along the coast to protect the fishermen and the farmers that spread into the rugged countryside. Inland, hilltop fortresses rise out of the rocks to tower over their fertile valleys. History and time have worn them down to foundations and outer walls, but they still display the power and strength that carried on through centuries of survival. This country has been fighting for survival since its early days as provinces of Rome.
The 2020 holidays were fraught with stormy weather and an earthquake, but kids were busy visiting the parks and playing amongst the simple decorations, and teens were busy popping off fireworks throughout the holidays. Fresh mistletoe, garlands, and roasted chestnuts were popular in the markets, adding wonderful aromas to the bartering crowds.
We found delicious local breads and beautiful Christmas cookies for a taste of the holidays. The churches were surrounded by clusters of families quietly standing outdoors through services, and the village squares were popular places to enjoy the sunshine and chat over warm wine and sugar-sprinkled fried dough balls. There wasn’t any pomp or pageantry, just the somber masses and rituals that help sustain the parishioners. We felt connected and welcomed by the similarities and shared sentiments of the season. On New Year’s Eve, the clear skies along the entire coastline from Split to Trogir were lit up by fireworks as everyone sent up their cheerful blasts to welcome 2021.
Traveling to new places and meeting people builds bridges. The memories and impressions garnered from your travels connect you to new places and new customs. The connections can be delicious flavors that appear on your table in a new dish or pieces of art that fill your rooms with beauty. The bridges can be strong and run two ways as encounters grow into hospitality and shared time exchanged for the currency of learning and growing.
One saying from childhood that I have always kept in mind: “Don’t burn your bridges.” In 2020, I kept thinking: “Build bridges, not walls.”
Winter 2021, we are going to stay on a small farm outside of Zagreb. Stay tuned!