It seems that almost every one of our little towns has its own amateur historian dedicated to studying its history and customs, hanging dearly on to local values and heritage. They are mostly laymen, who enjoy spending their time and energy on their passionate research. Such is Dragan Strgacic from Veli Iz. And on top of it all the man is an excellent cook.
While we're sitting on his terrace and picking on the grilled Atlantic bonito, washing it down with some great local red wine, we’re listening to many interesting stories on the history of the island. Past can be so amazing and eye opening when told with this much passion. Listening to Dragan I begin to think how one could really write an opulent and interesting monography just on the island of Iz alone, as well as on some other beautiful towns and places around here.
We found out that emigrants from America used to send money to help build a theater on Iz, and on Hvar, why more than sixty people from Iz died on Sutjeska, during the Second World War, why exactly it is that olive oil from Iz is absolutely the best one (even though locals from Istria all the way down to Dubrovnik claim that their olive oil is best), why was it much worse to be under the short term Italian occupation than under Austro-Hungarian empire for a longer period of time, how a certain priest used to help bereaved widows, that people from Veli Iz were always sailors or farmers, and people from Mali Iz fishermen, etc. etc... We're taking all this in being appreciative of certain don's tragic destiny, when due to terrible drought one year he had to eat his fish with neat wine, instead of his preferred bevanda – wine diluted with water.
My nephew Petar's angelic smile and dozen journalists gave me a farewell from the docks of Zadar, by the Sea organ, where I set off again into my adventure. Petar's parents stood by watching us with a big smile. As always, they were great hosts to us in Zadar (and I really believe that this happy family can be a great inspiration to many, so here it is again, a link written by a man after he's met them for the first time).
Mainly thanks to them, Zadar has become especially dear to me. Apart from its truly impressive history and the amazingly beautiful peninsula with the old town, Zadar is an excellent example how old and modern can work fantastically well. The Sea organ and the Salute to the Sun are already well known world attractions, the Museum of ancient glass is also a place to see, with a fantastic collection, but also an interesting and modern building extension, and there's the Arsenal as well... There are many such fine examples in this beautiful town of Zadar, which does seem to have a very bright future ahead.
I hopped into my kayak to get to Preko, then onto the bike over Ugljan to the beach where Aldo was waiting for me with his boat named “Kuzma”. Aldo is another interesting character bound to enrich the profile of the „Facebook“ welcome. This man used to be an officer on transatlantic ships, until one day he just decided he had enough of faraway lands and open seas and returned to his island of Iz. He has now been living a quiet, fisherman's life for over twenty years, giving an occasional ride to tourists on his little boat.
As much as I've been enjoying seeing all the amazing countryside and all the different locations for the past month, I've been just as excited to meet with all the people along the way and hear about their life stories. And so we met Motka, a friend of our cameraman, Marko, in Sali. Since we were left without our coordinator Cedo for couple of days, who needed to coordinate a situation with our two Škoda cars, Motka just took over without hesitating. It all just went smoothly from then on. Food, bed, transport of my kayak to Telascica where my route over Kornati begins, bike I needed to borrow to avoid walking to Mir bay... it all just sorted itself out on its own.
„Some things are better left to be sorted out on their own, without too much meddling in with organization“, said Motka, all pleased with the way things turned out. This logic helped me to sleep better as well. What with all the storm predictions on Kornati there's not much we could organize anyway. Que sera, sera...