Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Heart Croatia

I am asked 70 times a day ˝how do you like living in Croatia˝ and you bet your ass, the answer is ALWAYS an emphatic ˝it's super to live here.˝ Anything less enthusiastic would be taken as an insult and frankly, people don't really care about my true answer, anyway. Just like people don't really want to know your life story when they ask, ˝how are you today?˝

Nevertheless, I am asked this question all the time - no matter how inappropriate the when I'm at the hospital and bleeding... ˝....uh, yeah...Croatia's great...just great˝ as paint is chipping off the walls and the nurse is trying to insert an IV while WEARING NO GLOVES and I've just seen her work on two other people in the room in the same way...

I definately went through a period where it wasn't a total lie .... and everything WAS super, to me. But that time is behind me. Now, I see everything - warts and all - and the place is slightly less charming to me than it was initially but ....BUT ...I still miss it when I go away.

But the truth is, I have a love-hate relationship with Croatia-as do most people who actually live here. My husband, a Croatian, calls it death by a thousand papercuts. Basically what he means is that there is so much absurdity that you either grow a sense of humor or you go nuts.

Like everyplace, Croatia has good aspects and bad aspects. From my perspective,

the good aspects are...

  • It has a mediterranean climate and culture very similar to the images that North Americans have with regard to Italy....good genes, hot-blooded (n'er I say, tempermental?), love to eat and sing and drink ...all of that.
  • You can let your kids run around without fearing that some pervert is going to molest or kill them.
  • The environment is beautiful and the sea is unpolluted. In fact, the tourism bureau's tagline is The Mediterranean As It Once Was - and that's true, for the time being, anyway
and the bad aspects are....

  • oh, well there's a pretty substantial problem with corruption perpetrated by the likes of little old ladies up to high government officials.
  • Culturally, it's an incomprehensible mix of communist mentality which tells them that everybody owns everything and nothing at the same time - so nobody takes any responsibility for anything. At the same time, they have a dose of capitalist greed that would make Ivan Boesky blush. It's like the wild west on the sea.
  • We live in Zadar, which has had two significant waves of peasant migrations from the surrounding villages to the city. OMG...painfully.raw.people. Some of them, anyway. That's not to say that there are no intelligent, decent people in Zadar. Quite the contrary, they are here but harder to find. Now, one of you Zagrepčani will ask me - what did you expect...I'll tell you, if you think that Zagreb is like 100 times better than Zadar...think again. I would say that it's 20% better. Sorry, Zagreb. I know that you think you're so great and sophisticated but as far as world cities go, you're pretty lame. Someone asked me why we didn't move to Zagreb. My response to them was ˝if I wanted to live in a serious city, I would have stayed in Washington...˝ meaning, Zagreb.ain't.all.that. I'll take the peasant rawness over the Zagreb's unwarrented attitude problem any day of the week.
You see my point.

In the end, it doesn't matter what I think...I'll be buried here.

How's that for Slavic thinking!