Scribbles about locals

Written by  Robbie
St. Jerome, declared Dalmatian, the foremost biblical scholar St. Jerome, declared Dalmatian, the foremost biblical scholar a painting by Lionello Spada

It has long been my wish to wriCroatian travel blogte. I remember I enjoyed writing even when I was a kid. However, due to life circumstances, instead of a pen, I ended up with something else in my hands, which is why I now feel that there’s a lot of ink in that pen. The writer in me jumped straight from the period of the old Olympia typewriter to that of this modern device called tablet that I am writing on.

 I like blogging. True, there is no smell and sound of paper and pencil, but there is still that primordial human desire for expression.

I do not know how important this very first blog is. I have long pondered on what and how to write, but the best conclusion I came up with was to write about what I truly want in the manner in which I truly want, and not what is expected of me.

This means you can forget about the popular numeral-headlines like "12 Reasons Why You Should Visit Croatia" or "10 Breathtaking Locations". These texts tend to look good, but I don’t think they are my kind of thing, like those ,99 tagged prices are.

For my first blog, I decided to write about myself, about us, the people of Croatia or, more precisely, people of the Dalmatian region (which indisputably includes me as well). So, what`s the best way to present the man of this country? A man rooted in its stone, a commoner or a refined citizen, a modest and hard-working peasant, a bigoted Vlach or a prominent artist?

Plant and stone
Maybe the "marriage" of stone and plant on this image is the best was to depict the harshness of life in Dalmatia, the oldest Croatian region, especially in times when life depended mainly on scanty soil and a few drops from the sky. The sun was never scarce here, thank God. I guess it is because of such harshness and scarcity that the Almighty has endowed this region with such rare beauty, that the Dalmatian man has forever "ordained" to this landscape.

Dalmatian prototype
I can say with certainty that there are a million miles between Dalmatian people then and now, but the devotion to and love for the homeland remained the same, if not stronger. No, this has nothing to do with any form of ideology or separatism, but is much simpler; every child loves its mother, right?

However, not everything was coming up roses all the time. After a period of peace and harmony, the local man often suffered because of others’ imperialist aspirations or the simple and primitive need for survival, either of others or of himself. Sometimes it was even due to abundance. Yes, you read it correctly, due to abundance. Examples of this can be found everywhere, and here is no different. The legend has it that during the Ottoman conquest in the 16th century, one Turk staring at the rich field in a small town not far from Split said: “For one - too much, for two – not enough.”

Large migrations took place in this area during the Ottoman influence, but when talking about the population of Dalmatia, it is maybe more important to mention that its hinterland served as a basin that fed coastal cities with population throughout history.Lunch inland

Gentelman in Split

In Split, the largest city on the Croatian coast, locals refer derogatively to the residents from the hinterland as “Vlaji” (Vlachs), and the residents of Split are called "Fetivi" (local vernacular for original inhabitants). Nevertheless, whether we like it or not, throughout history Split was inhabited by people who came straight from the hinterland and formed some of the oldest and most picturesque suburban architecture in Split (about which I will write more in my subsequent entries). Of course, there are more recent, modern, well-planned districts as well as, unfortunately, less picturesque architecture with loads of mutually disputing styles.Morlachs

The Dalmatian people always lived off the land and animals, rocks and the sea, but at the beginning of the twentieth century, industrialization spread its tentacles to this region, too, especially during the post-war era of social-communism. And so, slowly but surely, the Dalmatian man was gradually dragged from the soil of his ancestors with either a hammer or a rifle in his hands. Thus, after the war, casting away the pickaxe and fishhook, he followed everybody else to the factory. Today, these factories represent an example of how things shouldn`t be done.Factories

Long before the war, during a dinner in Solin near Split, one commoner enthusiastically informed the vicar that a high delegation that will build large factories has arrived in their small village. Dropping the fork and knife from his hands, the vicar stammered: "This is the end of all things good."


Today, people in Dalmatia slowly return to their origins. It is no longer shame to be a farmer as it was thirty or forty years ago. What out of need, what out of pure spite, they are cleaning their fathers’ lands and planting vines, olives and other Mediterranean cultures.Locals enjoying
At night, according to the good old tradition, content they walk down to the tavern to share some food and wine with friends, spicing it all up with a song.


I think that this is a habit which perhaps distinguishes us the most from the western cultures. That, and “fjaka”, of course. “Fjaka” is a Zen-like state of mind that is especially intensive when the southern wind blows. We don`t feel like doing anything then, not a single thing: not even lifting a finger, thinking, talking or writing. It`s starting just now, ugh. Fare well!

Read 5631 times Last modified on Friday, 15 January 2016 22:21

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