When revisiting a place from my youth, I anticipated that my cherished old memories will collide with new experiences. Everything should have undergone a transformation after two decades. In my case, the change should be even more pronounced since I was merely a high school boy during my vacations in Crikvenica, which was once part of Yugoslavia and is now part of Croatia.
The good old days
During my holidays in those days, I resided with friends of my mother for several weeks. The family that welcomed me consisted of a woman who managed nearly all aspects of the household and her husband, who occasionally took me on rides on his Vespa.
There were also grandparents living in the same place. The elderly lady was affectionately referred to as Nona by everyone, an Italian term for grandmother. She had that warmth of a caring maternal figure. Her husband was known as Barba, meaning “beard” in Italian, although he lacked a beard. He brought to mind the character from Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man and the Sea.” Periodically, he would invite me on fishing trips using an old rowboat, which he skillfully maneuvered to a particular spot in the sea. Seemingly as by magic, an abundance of fish always appeared. Later, he disclosed to me that this was not a miraculous occurrence, but rather the result of local fishermen discarding fish waste in that area to attract the fish.
From Crikvenica, we embarked on numerous brief day trips to the island of Krk, back when it was still an isolated island. Presently, a bridge connects Krk to the mainland, allowing for easy car access.
The good new days
The most remarkable discovery this summer was that everything remained largely unchanged. While the main road had been upgraded through European subsidies, the rest of the landscape retained its familiar character. It dawned on me that I still held some form of connection to this beautiful land.
As a tribute, I created a small oil painting (measuring 18×24 cm on board) depicting the intricate root systems of the abundant olive trees found in the area and also made some watercolour sketches.