Saturday, July 08, 2006

Day of Destruction- Croatian Edition ČĆŽĐŠŽ

This is Joanna writing. I have agreed to write this entry since Mark was whining that his arm hurt when he held it in a typing position. The truth is, it does look pretty painful, but it's my opinion that he's being lazy as well. If you're interested in learning what happened to Mark's arm, well, read on.

It all began on the Island of Hvar, in a little port town called Jelsa (pr. Yell-sa). The weather was beautiful and, having heard tell of famous nude beaches, Mark convinced me we should rent a scooter and search one out.

"Maybe we could rent bikes." I tried to compromise.

"But a scooter would be faster." Mark countered, "What if the road is steep?"

"Well, how about renting a little boat - then we could find a cove completely unreachable by land!"

"Scooter, scooter!" After that he would only beat-box a techno-scooter rave mix. You see what I was up against.

So I consented and we found the cheapest scooter rental in town. Mark was shaky at the beginning, but quickly got the hang of the little scooter (max speed, 40 kph) and my nerves began to calm as well. The road to Kamp Nudist was gently winding, with beautiful Adriatic views. There was only one problem. With me on the back of the bike, Mark was too far forward on the seat to see the rearview mirror. Our short term remedy for this was that I would continually look back and tell him if there were cars behind us, because they would undoubtably want to pass our slow, wobbly ass. We reached the campground where the beach was quite crowded, so we decided to head back along the road to find a more secluded spot. Before we revved up, though, Mark decided to "fix" the mirror.

"I'll just quickly adjust this before we go..." He said, grabbing the mirror and wrenching it back, "Why won't this move..." SNAP!

The whole mirror, stem and all, fell to the ground. Oh, and don't think this was some kind of breakaway safety mirror. It wasn't.

We took it in stride. I mean, the mirrors must break all the time if someone can break it just by pulling on it with all their might, you know?

We continued on. We found the perfect sunbathing spot, with just a little bit of shade and no one else around. Being very pale (understatement), I always slather myself with sunblock, and in the nude I was even more diligent. Mark, however, has that knee-to-waist white girdle, bordered by tan, and by gum he was going to change that!

He had already worked on that white area some in Germany. On a walk around the spectacular Eibsee Lake, we encountered a secluded stretch where sunbathing nude seemed to be required. Of course, we had to comply. My usual sunblock ritual ensued, but Mark saw this as an opportunity to prepare for Croatia. Later that evening, we both laughed heartily at Mark's pink bottom. That is, until he had to sit on the bus to Croatia the next day for 15 hours with a sunburnt ass. Then I was the only one laughing.

You would think he would have learned something from this. We spent at least four hours roasting beside the Adriatic, and now his ass is no longer mozzarella, it's marinara!

Soon, however, the destruction was to continue. Back in Garmisch, when we discovered the Eibsee and the beautiful swimming pool, the Kaisenbad, we bought two inflatable floaty-things to take to the water with us. Oh, those floaty things had become much more than just flotation devices to us. They protected us from hard beach surfaces, they provided shade when it got too extreme, they even supported our exhausted, beer-bloated bodies at night in our tent. But now, as Mark was floating serenely on the buoyant salt water, the unthinkable happened: Floaty thing met Karstic rock.

Any tourist brochure on Croatia will tell you it's essential to have rubber shoes on hand to combat this razor sharp Karst so it's easy to imagine who won the battle of floaty vs. karst. The image of Mark weeping softly into the still inflated pillow while the matress bubbled under like the Lusitania is forever seared into my brain.

Still, the death of Floaty didn't dampen our spirits much. As we packed up we gushed, "What a perfect day," and, "This day will stand out as one of the pinnacles of the trip," and on and on. Well, we were right.

Back on the scooter, we decided to take the road to Zavala - a harrowing mountain pass, according to Lonely Planet. Could we have a little more information PLEASE?

We approached a sign: Tunnel 1.4 km. As we rounded a bend, the mouth of the tunnel came into sight, flanked by a traffic light, currently red. A more rustic tunnel entrance could not be imagined. The tunnel was hewn out of the rock and the craggy walls were left au naturale. After about five feet, there was nothing but blackness. We pulled off a little to the side and waited for the light to turn green, our aprehension growing with every minute that ticked by, and every car that pulled up behind us. When the light turned green, we waved on all the cars ahead of us. This proved to be wise, as they raced away into the tunnel much faster than we wanted to go. We entered the tunnel, the dripping walls and unfinished dirt road illuminated by the headlights of the cars ahead of us.

Wait. Ahead of us!?!

"The lights!" We gasped together. The pitch blackness was closing in around us and the end of the tunnel was nowhere in sight. I reached around Mark with my right hand and started pushing all the buttons I could find. After what seemed like a minute or more, but was really only a few terrifying seconds, the lights popped on. We exhaled in unison, our hearts pounding to the jolts on the road.

Once out of the tunnel, we pulled over to recover and take in the view. We felt shaky, but fortified by our ordeal. If we could pull that off, we really were getting the hang of the Scooter.

We started off once more. I was gazing around at the amazing view, turquoise water and azure sky, with an occasional prudent look over my shoulder in my role as rearview mirror replacement.

"I can really see the draw of these things now," Mark yelled back to me, "I should get one!"

Then we encountered our first sharp turn.

I'll never know what was going through Mark's mind at the time. Perhaps he was entranced by the surroundings, as I was. Perchance he felt a newfound confidence and a need for speed after enduring the tunnel adventure. Whatever the cause, we entered the turn with the wind whipping through our hair and by the time Mark realized we couldn't turn that sharply at that speed, we skidded side long into the gravelly shoulder, and coming up fast on our right was a traditional Croatian guardrail - namely a stone wall. Mark squeezed the brakes, but it was just a little too late. We tore into that wall, and the wall took a piece of Mark as a keepsake.

I did a quick body inventory and realized everything was intact, if a little crunched. Then I turned my attention to Mark. Now, I will tell you now that Mark is OK. Nothing broken, in other words, but there next to that wall he had to do a bodily inventory to make sure. His right arm and leg were scraped and bleeding, yes, but it could have been a lot worse, is all I'm saying. He could have lost a limb. So all this, "I can't type," and "It hurts to sleep on my side," and "Ow, salt water stings!" is just ungrateful drivelling. (photos of the gore will follow soon!)

As soon as we had Mark cleaned up a bit, we turned our attention to the bike. We took no pictures because we're a little ashamed, but the whole right side was covered with scrapes. On the side, by where my leg would have been, there was a discernible dent and a 6" scratch. The front panel had many scratches and a hairline crack, and the paint bordering the headlight was scraped off in a patch about the size of a quarter, though thankfully it was still working. And these were just the worst dings. We knew we'd have some explaining to do.

When our nerves were sufficiently calm, we got back on the bike and by creeping around every turn and pulling over to let every car pass us, we made it to the other coast of the island. It was still hot, so we headed out to find a secluded cove. We found a nice pebbly beach (to Croations, pebbles are about the size of potatoes) and Mark gritted his teeth and waded into the water to bathe the wounds.

"It burns, IT BURNS!"

"That means it's disinfecting! Thats good!" I chimed in.

"I'm melting," he whined.

Eventually, we had to get back on the scooter and make our way back along the winding road and back through that tunnel, back to Jelsa to turn in the scooter. Honestly, we tried to stick the mirror back on and pretend like nothing happened. Mark even put on a long sleeved shirt and jeans to hide his carnage, but the mirror wouldn't stay and we knew we had to fess up.

When we pulled in to the lot, which was really just the loading area of a small produce market, the scooter man immediately saw a scratch on the side of the bike. It was pretty dark by then (as we had planned) so I made a bold move, if I may say so.

"Yes, as you can see, the mirror broke off." I produced the mirror from the hatch and waved it around hypnotically, willing him not to look at the front of the bike where the scrapes were much worse.

"How did that happen?"

"It got caught on some...branches and snapped off," I continued lamely. It seemed to work, however, because instead of continuing to inspect the bike, he went for the boss. This was a stroke of luck for us because the boss didn't look at the bike at all.

"This is OK," he said, indicating the scratch, "But the mirror...I'll have to call my supplier and you must pay for it."

"OK!" We agreed, maybe a little too eagerly. I was standing very close to the scratched side of the bike, hoping to discourage him from coming over for a closer look.

He got off the phone with his supplier and told us the damage. "One hundred and thirty-five kuna," which is about $30. We made a show of finding enough cash on us, gave it to him, and by the end he was apologizing to us for having to make us pay. We assured him it was OK, then we turned and calmly walked out the door. As soon as we were out of view, we ran for the nearest alley.

Just after our escape, on our way to buy some much needed wine, as if the destruction were following us, we saw a van crush a kids' bike.

Needless to say, the next morning we were on the first bus out of town.


Jeff said...

Wait a minute! You left more open plot lines than the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. What about the scooter? What about Mark's arm? What about his pink bottom?

I give this entry a thumbs down.

Ryan said...

No way Jeff! She is doing a masterful job telling this story. By doling out precious bits of information slowly, she's got you clamoring for more. She's in your head, dude.

Joanna, don't listen to him, he's just jealous. Would you consider taking over Mark's blog on a more permanent basis?

the kougs said...

I second the accolades of young Dobosh and demand more! more! guest writing by Joanna. Perhaps she should take over any future scooter driving as well.

Joanna said...

Thanks, guys! We'll make it out of here alive yet!

Jeff said...

True true. My comment was a rash one, out of spite. I was drawn in with your clever style, and then left out to dry suddenly with the bus out out of town.

In hindsight, I give it a thumbs up, for suspense and drama. Now, when can we get some closure?

The Beenedog said...

Mom's about to have a heart attack, she has a bad heart you know... First the head now the arm. You guys need to be a bit more careful. I mean the Kougs and myself the Master Beenedog have been all over the world and have no scars from it. Go Italy!!!

moxie said...

I agree, Joanna is a must around these parts. I keep speculating why it's always Mark with the wounds.

the kougs said...

Master Beenedog -- excellent points my dear, as is to be expected.

Magic Schell -- in blogs, as in life, some things are unknowable, and that is as it should be. are any of us truly prepared to reflect upon the fate of Mark's wounded arm (and the possibility of a tragic end to his promising bocce ball career) or his pink bottom?

I think not. would, you, Jeff, ask to have that god-knowledge? In time, my friend, in time.

Senator Dobosh said...

Kougs, you're starting to weird me out. Someone's been stuck in Michigan a little too long if you ask me.

Jeff, I know what you're up to, stop trying to get people to discuss Mark's pink bottom.

Beenedog, as it has been so long, I have nothing but nice things to say to you. I hope you are doing well and that I get to see you in Mukilteo in August.

Jill, I appreciate your motherly/grammatical advice immensely, but where are you when Erika decides to completely forsake all capitalization?

Joanna, be strong.

Mark, come home soon so Jeff can see your bottom, it's all he ever talks about.

Rachel said...

How did I blow not reading this rad blog until now? Masterful storytelling Joanna. Can't wait until you're both home. I've got awesome sun stories myself!