Our apartment, that’s what.
It’s the beginning of tourist season here. That has meant finding a place to live at just the wrong time. I had my heart set on a beautiful Mediterranean-style house in the neighborhood near the boys’ school that had plenty of room for family to visit and for the kids to play in the yard. But that fell through when the landlord changed her mind, and we scrambled to find something else the month before we arrived.
After several disappointments dealing with Croatian landlords from a world away, we finally found this place, billed as a modern apartment with free parking. We’re on the top floor of a three-story building built 12 years ago. As my friend Tine said when I showed her the pictures, it kind of reminds you of a circa 1985 Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love” video. I’d slick my hair back and take a picture, but I just don’t have the red lipstick to complete the look.
Our Croatian landlords, Cedomir and Ljiljana, invited me to have lunch this week. I will be communicating through a lot of pantomiming and confused looks unless I pull out Google Translate to assist. I bought the Croatian version of Post-It Notes today to start hanging Croatian words around the apartment so I can start speaking their language.
We call Cedomir by his nickname, which sounds to me like “Cheddo.” He speaks a little bit of English. His wife studied German in school, and her English is limited, so we’ve been piecing together conversations as best we can.
Cheddo had gifts waiting for me when I arrived. Those included olive oil that he pressed himself, smoked ham that he fired up in his man-cave oven on the first floor and sausage that I’m making for dinner tonight.
He is 65 and has grandkids the boys’ age. He’s a fisherman and loves food and drink, from what I can gather. He gave up drinking alcohol three years ago. But that doesn’t stop him from offering toasts.
As Sarge and the boys and I were about to leave the apartment a couple of days ago to buy some supplies for home and school, he stopped us at the door. He offered the boys rollerblades and a skateboard. Then he asked Sarge and me to come in. He wanted to show us something about the house. Then he pulled out a plastic water bottle that didn’t have water in it.
“Schnapps!” he called. “For your blood!”
Ljiljana appeared with four cut-glass vessels and set them before us. Cheddo went to the freezer and pulled out a paper bag of figs and poured us drinks. I’m not sure what he poured, but a close match would be Kentucky moonshine. Ljiljana gave Sarge the fourth shot that Cheddo left sitting. She drank hers and poured herself another. She offered me more, but I declined. It was 11 o-clock on a Sunday morning, and I wasn’t quite ready for a nap.
Our landlords are definitely entertaining, and I can’t complain about living here, even if it wasn’t my first choice.
We’re within walking distance of the international school and tourist destinations. We have a decent (by European standards) sized refrigerator, and even a dishwasher. Our first meal at home was a memorable entree of local sea bass that Sarge grilled for us. I’m content here.
Our main bathroom is huge, with a large corner tub, a toilet and a bidet. Sarge told the boys the bidet was a water fountain, but they didn’t buy it.
We have a tiny washing machine in a small second bathroom. I have been doing laundry almost daily and hanging it out to dry. I miss my dryer.
We get only one English station on the television, so our entertainment has included watching Croatian music television and making up the words to the songs. I’m glad for the break from our addiction to screens. It will give us time to build new habits.
We don’t have a yard to ourselves, but the boys have been playing at a soccer and basketball court that we can see from our balcony. And from the same spot, I can turn the other way and spot the sea out in the distance.