Relocation is a complicated word, and yet it doesn’t quite cover the excitement of a move, the heaviness of goodbyes, or the strangeness of watching your entire life get stacked and sealed in plain brown boxes.
Bubble wrap, tape, box, label. It’s an efficient process except the labels – ‘Books’, ‘Kitchen Items: Fragile’, ‘Frames,’ are such simplistic reductions of the stories and memories we’ve assembled over six years. I couldn’t manage it in a paragraph, let alone a single word.
It’s weird, sitting in an empty house that’s full of boxes. Full but empty. It makes more sense to head out for one last hurrah. We walk down our street, take out regular route, past a line of stores and a market, to our watering hole. I try to memorize everything about this moment, about this place, for later. I wish I had taken more photos, caught up with more people, done more over these last few days. I try to re-live the last six years during this last walk to town. It’s simple enough. It’s harder than it sounds. Tomorrow will be a hard goodbye. But it will also be the start of something new.
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In a valley on an Island, six almost cricket teams gather around the vineyards for the VIS – the Vis International Sixes, a Cricket tournament enjoyed with a liberal sampling of the local vino, multiple helpings of regional delicacies, and some sunburn along the blue Adriatic.
There’s an interesting mix of Croatian and English around the ground. Who knew this game could translate so well. Cricket first came to the island in the 1800s, by way of sea and military design. Then it was a way for bored English officers to kill time, now it provides a much needed escape from city-bred cubicles.
There’s everything you’d expect from a cricket tournament – mid-over conferences, heckling spectators – usually teammates heckling fellow teammates, all in good spirit of course, hungover players, confusion with the rules and scoring, stumbles, fumbles and some stunning cricket, lost cricket balls, a bunch of colourful characters and colourful language, even a pitch invasions (this time of the canine variety).
For some players this is a first – there are a few here who’ve never held bat or ball before. Others are old warriors, with many injuries to show and many stories to share. There are players who are just out of school, there are others who have crossed retirement age. It takes all kinds to make a good cricket match.
The teams are squaring off for a chance at to get their hands on a set of hand carved trophies. It doesn’t happen in many tournaments that one of the team captains is also the one to create the tournament trophies. The trophies are carved from old wine barrels, much like the scorecard. Cricket is all about maintaining the consistency.
Once the runs have been chased down, the victory march completed, the ground opens up to practice and a bit of a fun. The scuffed red cricket balls are now joined by chewed up tennis balls, and chasing dogs. Equipment is tidied up. Scorecards are tallied. Bottle openers are forced into action. And the valley is swarmed with post match analysis, strategies and plans for the tournament next year.
Spring is nudging into Croatia, clearing the sky, painting it blue, much like the sea. The season is still a few months away. Soon these shores will fill up with human clutter, but for now it’s just us, the lapping waves and the fat gulls. I am here to explore the Istrian wine trail, along with a few friends, and I’m parched.
The first drop of wine presents itself at 11:00am, and that’s only because the silly GPS insisted we take the long route, across vineyards, past shiny new stone mansions, and over dirt roads. But we are are finally here, at a small upcoming winery in Poreč.
Istrian families have a long and rich wine making history. While most make a few liters of their own wine, a few have turned it into successful businesses, converting their farms and family names into well known brands, best enjoyed with bit of cheese.
A glass of wine. And then another. A sip, a splash, a gulp. One for the road, and then one more. And then one more because it all tastes so good. Wine the colour of floating roses, the colour of blood red rubies, white with swirling flecks of gold, and a white that tastes like a liquid orchard. I drink them all.
We move from one wine to another, quicker than I can keep up. At one point I stop taking notes; I can’t be bothered with any distractions when there’s wine to polish off. Every few minutes we raise our glasses to the chorus of živjeli, and then we begin all over again.