I've been living in Makarska, Croatia, for nine months.
That's three seasons.
I'm in Season Three (Summer) of the Marijana in Makarska show. Except, get this, it's not a show. It's real life. It's my life.
Anyway, here are nine random notes reflecting on my nine months.
- Summer has been the most challenging season. And I accept the challenge! Yes, you can roll your eyes now. But I never claimed to have selected Makarska for its summers. I won't be running away from it anytime soon. I will figure out how to thrive in the heat. Because that's what life is all about, figuring things out.
- I have a new love interest. And its name is tennis. Yes, I write about tennis a lot. What can I say? I'm in love. I do not claim to be good at it…yet. I've learned a lot in nine months. I can see my strengths. I can see where I need to improve. I have goals when it comes to tennis. It's something I want to get better at. Who'd a thunk?
- Sometimes even the locals don't know the rules. I was waiting in line in a government office. I had a ticket with my number. I lost my place in line (distracted by a local celebrity), and when I asked to be let back in, no one wanted to let me in. The office personnel said that someone should let me in. No one did. I said to the individuals in line: I am not from around here; tell me the rules, and maybe then I can follow along. One man responded: We don't even know the rules. Problem solved. I now go with the flow. And pay attention when in a lineup, even if there's a celebrity around.
- Those Adriatic Sunsets! I could see Lake Ontario from my condo rooftop when I lived in Toronto. Not the same. Something about those Adriatic sunsets! Sublime. Mother Nature is a genius.
- Return recyclable bottles in September. Makarska has several bottle return machines. You know, the ones where you get a deposit back. During the summer months, the devices are working in overdrive—tourists doing a good thing and returning the bottles. Machines overheat or something like that. Anyway, I have decided to avoid the devices in the summer months. I'll do my part and return the empty bottles in September.
- Is there a tourist rulebook? And can every country hand it out to visitors? I'm now that person. The person that grumbles about how tourists behave. Sigh. I know. This one is mine to deal with. I'll talk to my therapist about it.
- Being called a local/domestic (domaća) made my day. I know I will never be considered a true local. I know my accent will never be perfect. I'll always be regarded as a Canadian because that's part of my identity. And I don't mind at all. But I will smile and feel warm inside whenever someone considers me a local, even if they are pulling my leg.
- Paying $30 a month for a cell phone plan is fantastic. I'm sure there are cheaper plans, but I went from paying $100/month in Canada to $30/month. Huge win in my books. Dear Canada, do better.
- Ice melts a lot faster in this heat. Obvious, yes. Random, yes. But you notice when you are filling up your ice trays three times a day. Note to self: buy more ice trays.
I'm sure there's more. But for now, those are some of the little things I navigate now that I live in Croatia. Excuse me now while I head out on my balcony and enjoy the sunset.