Ahh, it’s nice to be back! I realize I’ve been quiet for a while and I’m sorry about that. However I do have a reason for my absence (whether it’s a good reason I’ll leave up to you), I haven’t had much in the way of internet. The last post I wrote took 3 hours to upload, then the internet situation got a whole lot worse from there. You get what you get when traveling. So, I was left with a choice, I could either spend a minimum of three hours to try to upload a post that May or may not work or I could spend that time soaking up as much of the place and culture surrounding me. I chose the latter since really that is why I’m here, and it will make for better stories for you later.
I should mention that while the internet mostly hasn’t been able to support blogging I have been able to use Instagram a fair amount (something about uploading a single picture maybe?). So here is the link to that. I have made it public in order to share these experiences with friends that aren’t on social media so I should be able to share it with you too. Enjoy!
Well I finally have time to stop and think for a couple of minutes. This has been a whirlwind adventure and promises to continue that way, but for now the rain has set in and we are in somewhat of a regular construction schedule. Regular is a relative term however, in this case it means that we build like crazy until we run out of material, then we wait for more to come in.
Yesterday was one of those days off while we are waiting for materials, so we visited the Island of Pag in our free time. Pag is about an hour boat ride away and is known for it’s excellent Pag cheese, lace making, and it’s crazy uncontrolled party scene. But I encountered none of those, much to my disappointment in the case of the first two, and instead went to the north end of the island to the laid back town of Lun in which there is an ancient olive grove.
The grove was magical as was the opportunity to just sit and sketch the gnarled spiraling shapes of the trees while sitting in the warm weather and hearing the occasional bleat of a sheep. “Wait, wait, wait!” you say. “Sheep? Where do the sheep come in?!”
Well, to me that was one of the coolest parts. This is a official park supported by the UN and the Croatian Government, however people still live all around it and sheep are allowed to graze there. To me it sounds like a perfect system, the sheep eat what little grass grows around the trees, and probably the olives that fall from them as well, then deposit their fertilizer to keep the trees well supplied with nutrients that are unavailable in the thin rocky soil that makes up most of the islands. Can you imagine how good the cheese from the milk of those sheep would be too after they had been feasting on olives. Makes me drool just thinking about it.
One of the most amazing sights was an olive tree that was 1,600 years old. It was beautiful!
After I was done sketching I strolled back to the boat along the shore and stopped to put my feet in the water, sketch a dock, and do some yoga. Then we boarded the boat back to Rab as the sun set over the sea. It was an amazing day.
When we were back on Rab we went to have dinner in a little hole in the wall restaurant that looked like a cross of the hull of a ship and a hunting lodge, all heavy wood paneling and tables, a big fire place, guns, bottles, barrels, and other things arranged on shelves along the wall and hung from the celling. The food was great too, I got cuttlefish stew with polenta. We hung out there talking and playing with candle wax (I know, odd huh?) for two and a half hours. Toward the end of our stay a bunch of locals came in for their evening drink and began singing what sounded like traditional songs. They were really good too, achieving that special pitch and harmony that only comes from singing together all their lives.
First of all, welcome to the blog! I apologize for my late arrival on here. Producing any work that will represent you is a daunting task, particularly the first of a series. Will it live up to people’s expectations? Is it representative of the whole work I will eventually create? And worst of all, will I end up posting too many pictures of food? Well, I cannot answer that right now except to say I hope so…to all of them.
Now to the main event! Packing: everyone’s favorite part of traveling, right? Well not mine. I sit and agonize over every item I put in my bag, then I take it out and try to leave it home, then decide I do need it after all and put it back. Repeat ad infinitum. However I am finally all packed, and its a good thing too as I leave in less than 18 hours. Why do I find packing so awful? I think because I initially think of it as limiting my options and ability to respond to the unknown. I’m trying to change my perception though and treat packing as a process of discovering what I can leave behind rather than what do I really need to take. I am slowly realizing that stuff can get in the way of experience, which is what this trip is all about. I’m not talking about any extreme example like not taking clothes to Antarctica because I would miss out on the experience of freezing to death, but lugging stuff has a way of dragging down your mood and limiting where you can go and when. That time and space limitation is what I hope to avoid.
I also was going to say something cliché about thinking I would take and leave behind, but really I feel that is done to death. And if truth be told, I try to cultivate good responses to everything no matter where I am so I think that isn’t applicable at the moment. The non-physical thing I would like to leave behind is judgement, particularly judgement of myself. I am naturally anxious, I have been that way all of my life and it probably won’t change so really if I want to enjoy myself I should just embrace that. As such I have made some choices as to how I want to study abroad that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for everyone. Most significantly I have chosen to keep my US phone provider and use an international plan for the duration of my trip. I have a couple reasons to satisfy the question of “why?” that I’m sure is trying to burst from your mouths at this very moment. Firstly, there are some people with ongoing health issues in my family and I want to be connected to what is going on with that. And secondly, because I feel more comfortable and confident if I know I can contact my support system/group/people (close friends, relatives, family friends, that sort of thing). That doesn’t mean I actually have to contact them, I just am more relaxed knowing I can if I need or want to.
One of the hesitations I hear brought up a lot when the subject of staying in contact with home comes up (whether it’s studying abroad, going to college, kids off to camp, that sort of thing) is that they will use that contact as a crutch and never fully engage with their environment. I think this is a legitimate concern, but that the personality and goals of the individual should be kept in mind. For myself I am going into this trip with the goal of being engaged, of getting to know the people I live with, work with, and meet along the way. The option to stay in contact with home is what empowers me to act on that. I want to experience this trip as a whole person rather than taking stressed-but-falsely-confident-Caroline and leaving the anxious Caroline home. I want to let the anxious Caroline go to Europe too and let her have the room to relax and become confident all on her own as she does anywhere else she feels she is supported.
And now it’s time to sign off as I want to get well rested before my flight tomorrow. Until next time!
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