CROATIA SKETCHES 6 // Polače

sept 6:

Today’s been a warm, calm, lonely day. I think I’m ready to go back home, back to work. I hiked for a couple hours earlier today and found that an experience I’d wanted to have – a period of time and a place to walk where I could discern no sign of human activity – had been achieved, and that it was extraordinarily lonely. I had anticipated this and still wanted it but it’s helped me decide I’m not ready to leave humanity behind just yet.

sept 7 11.20am,
On the ferry now, saying goodbye to Mljet. The taxi I’d ordered for 9.30 came at 10, the 10.45 ferry left at 11. After a week and a half in this country I haven’t managed to get used to how relaxed they are about time. That’s a bit of a cliche about the Mediterranean, isn’t it?

My host gave me a lovely cup of coffee and a bag of bread and cookies – which I’ve already devoured – before I left. I had mentioned at the beginning I wanted to do some drawing (not just prose sketches) when I was here and my host really ran with that, even though I’m a complete amateur. But I suppose it’s good because it’s meant I’ve felt obligated to do some sketching, and I think I’ve improved that little bit. I left a drawing for my host in the room I stayed in, but after all the coffee and food and snacks is that enough?

My host also said I should come back, and I’m thinking seriously about it. Is the purpose of travel purely to see new places? This trip wasn’t. I think the next time I need to wind down and get away from people, maybe I’ll come back to Polace. At the very least I’ll recommend Pave’s place to my friends who decide to visit.

CROATIA SKETCHES 5 // Polače

[i’m back to numbering these again. Sorry.]

Sunday 3 Sept, 6.38pm.
Today was a tiring day, full of muscles i’m not used to using. I’m better on a bike than I remember, and haven’t had a proper coughing fit all day, well, since 1 this morning. I’m sitting on the balcony watching the sun go down behind the ridge to the west of the town. The one I cycled up this morning. I think I’m done with convalescence, which is to say I’m not giving myself any more excuses to sit inside and do nothing. The same can’t be said for sitting on the beach and doing nothing.

Polače has this curious second sunset, something I imagine must be very common in hilly countries but which I’ve never experienced. I’ll watch the sun go down, around 6.40, but the sky will only change color, like a proper sunset, twenty minutes later when the sun goes below the horizon, which is behind the ridge.

As I was biking back to Polače this afternoon a guy coming towards me lost his hat in the road. I didn’t know what to do so I just said, enunciating very clearly, ‘HAT.’ and pointed. The same guy has just walked below my balcony. I wonder if he knows I speak English. If not, it’s a bit less weird than me just having not processed the situation in time when his hat landed in the road. Maybe I only know the word ‘hat’, and not how to tell someone they’ve lost one.

CROATIA SKETCHES 3 // Polače

31 August, 9.50am.
In Polače now. A couple hours to kill before check-in so I’ve found a little pebble beach further along the inlet, at the end of the street that makes up the bulk of the town. Polače is slower and more peaceful than Dubrovnik, I can already tell I’m going to like it here. I’m lying on pebbles, trying to favor my pulled serratus muscles, my feet in the water. The tides in this spot are so invariable that, when I lie back and shut my eyes, it feels like nothing more than a playful nymph, a sprite, splashing me with seawater. First softly, now harder. Perhaps she is trying to wake me up.

I’ve just noticed the cicadas. They’re a constant low buzzing chirrup, coming from the pine trees all around us which run in places right down to the shore. It’s a sound that says ‘summer’ to me though I’ve never lived in a place with cicadas. It fades from my consciousness without concentration. It’s almost subliminal and I wonder if it’s putting me in a sunny frame of mind, because all I want right now is to immerse myself in the cool blue water lapping at my feet.

1 Sept, 5.31pm.
Today has been a lazy day. I went for a wander in the national park, got to see the lake. I spent about an hour sketching an abandoned boat sitting broken under a tree. There was no one waiting on me and no one to worry about entertaining, so I got to finish.

Mljet has this kind of haze, I don’t know if it’s dust in the air or a light mist or what, but it creates a very evocative kind of layering, you can look out at successions of islands or hills, each one a little less defined. I think this is called a landskein.

Don’t know what I want to do with myself this evening. Perhaps a walk. A man on a passing yacht walks from bow to stern, and appears to be walking in place.