My adventures in Dubrovnik have included many generous and caring new friends. They have aided me in many numerous ways: helping with translations, driving me to locations and, above all, unlimited kindness.
The Nava restaurant is located just off the Stradun on a side alley in the old town across from the Franciscan Monastery bell tower. I love going down there very early in the morning, helping to set up the tables and sitting with Nana, the owner, for a cup of coffee. Nada is chef, without a doubt the very best cook of local fare. She always has something special “off the menu” prepared for the locals. Katija is Nana’s daughter, and has been a server, translator and now owner of Lapus boutique opposite the restaurant. She especially has been my savior on many occasions. These three ladies are the reason so many of our local residents enjoy their main noontime meal at Nava, and they are my heroes.
Branka Skasi, my chain smoking lawyer plowed her way through five years of red tape for my Croatian citizenship application. Her office is on the second floor of an old town building and she is only available for consultation on Monday and Thursday from 1700 to 1900 (5-7pm). No appointment, no secretary, no receptionist and only a small waiting room where locals arrive early in hopes of being first in to see her. She was persistent in faxing the official agency every month which seems to be the norm here; they ignored us for three years. I do believe her frustration was far beyond mine. I should clarify that I am entitled to Croatian citizenship as a first generation child born in the USA of parents born in Croatia. Interesting side note, I also had to prove to the government that my parents were Catholic before they would consider my application. It may have taken five years, but I am now able to obtain our universal medical coverage. This is at a cost to me of $100 per month, no co-pay and it is 100% total coverage.
My new friends in Cavtat are Matko and Neda live on my road and I pass their home/garden everyday as I walk to our corner store. They have the most extraordinary garden, growing potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, green beans, peppers and so much more. There are fruit trees, peaches, figs, plums and oranges and grape vines and now kiwi. I just cannot seem to get past their home without them handing me a bag full of vegetables or fruit which they just harvested. My favorite is always kupus which is much like kale and the taste is unequaled when eating fresh vegetables cut a few hours earlier. Matko’s brother lives next door and his sister on the hill above the large garden. The property was much larger at one time, but the government decided the area needed a school and took more than half with no payment to the family. Eminent domain or highway robbery, you decide.
Just across the road on the sea side live Jelica and Vlaho and their two small children, Ana and Luka with another to arrive in early February. We met as I walked Abby on her daily morning trek up the road to the top of the hillside. It was love at first sight for Abby, but Ana was a bit timid and Luka was all over her in a matter of minutes. During the summer months I enjoy their company sitting on the terrace overlooking the Adriatic. Jelica is always trying to feed me, cakes, fresh fruit and juices as they both chit chat with me with the goal of improving their English skills. Vlaho loves his new Jeep SUV; he spends Saturday washing and cleaning that gleaming black car which he had shipped here from the USA. Often when I am in the old town, Vlaho will go out of his way to pick me up and drive me home and I am thrilled to not make the walk from the bus stop to my apartment. He also has taken time from his working Saturday on his olive tree farms to drive me to a couple of the outlying store and never accepts my offer to pay for gasoline. That being said, our gasoline prices average about $7.50 per gallon so please do not complain about the prices in the USA.
Very special people who deserve so much more than a very sincere thank you, they have made my transition to living in Croatia much easier and I am proud to call them friends.