Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Hey everyone, I haven't been stabbed to death with a syringe yet, so it's cool. Nope, Split has turned out to be a quite pleasant place and our (ex)soldier friend has been a most gracious host.

So yeah, after a mammoth stay in Zagreb, it was finally time to leave to pastures new on Monday. With just a few loose ends to tie up before we left. First of all, our thank-you to our hostel hosts by means of buying them a bottle of wine. And I know that we paid them for seven nights anyway, but they really went above and beyond the call of duty and it's certainly been our best accommodation to date. So we said our thankyous, gave our wine, and took photos and now a photo of us is to apparently grace to reception of the hostel as soon as it's developed. So: go to Ravnice hostel in Zagreb and see a picture of me. Can there be a greater recommendation.

The next thing I had to do was to say goodbye to Bozica, so I met with her and her blonde friend (whose name I now know to be something like Zrnci) for a farewell drink. Oh, there were tears, I can tell you. However, that was more due to their choice of drinking venue - yet another extortionately expensive bar. Thank God for feminism and girls paying for their own drinks.

And finally, and just before getting on our overnight train to Split, there was the goodbye to Nina. The three of us went bowling, thus letting my considerable bowling skills impress one and all. I came last each game.

And then, and only then, it was time to leave Zagreb. Almost relucantly too, as we've had a great time there and in just 10 days I'd made a number of good friends. And the girls are all so attractive (have I mentioned that before?). But I'll be keeping in touch with them, and will definitely return one day.

The overnight train to Split, and the subsequent morning, have all turned into a very indistinct haze of clouded memory. Alas, not due to massive drug intake, but because of a very weird night's sleep. Myself and Simon were joined in our train compartment by a Croatian soldier, though he actually enjoyed the military and wasn't a heroin addict. But, like Ivan, he did wear quite awful tracksuit bottoms. Anyway, I did manage to get about 7 hours of more or less ok sleep in the train, slightly uncomfortable as it was. But it's all become like a vague dream now, and the subsequent getting a room in Split by fortunate means of an old man entering the train and telling us about his 80Kn a person a night room. Upon getting there I slept four proper hours and we then took a look around Split.

Split is like God accidently dropped a city between the sea and some mountains and let it spill out in the gap. It's very white and pretty and hugs the coastline as it creeps up the hills behind it. It's got a relaxed air to it, and despite the mass of Croatians in Zagreb telling me about the junkies lurking in every corner, the only junky I've noticed so far is the one we befriended in Zagreb. There's quite a lot of grafitti (in Croatian, disappointingly, as for some reason there's a ton of grafitti written in English around Eastern Europe) but looks much less like a heroin haven than, say, Aberdeen.

Anyway, the time came at at 6pm, we went to the train station to wait for our soldier friend and to our semi but not total surprise, he arrived, along with a friend called Pete who spoke English - loudly. Pete also had a car, and could drive it, although his actual grasp of driving could be described as tenuous. From the large gash along one side of his car, it was evident that Pete was of the school of driving that presumed that all other drivers weren't like him. Cramped in the little car, the four of us motored off on the junkie tour of Split. Ha, no, not quite, though they were rather keen to show us their favourite spots for smoking illegal substances. I'm not quite sure if there was a pattern to the tour, as we appeared to go in a number of circles, picking up a non-English speaker called Pave (Pav-eh) on the way.

We visited a pleasant and peaceful area by the sea, where we rested on small cliffs over the water. Then we were whisked around town, past the groovy stadium of Hadjuk Split, and into a small neighbouring town where we sat and had a drink, before zooming off around various destinations. Though poor Pave was effectively mute throughout the evening, Pete more than compensated. He was very talkative and interested in what we were doing, and seemed rather determined to visit us in Scotland this New Year, although from what I gathered he seemed to be banking quite a lot on the hopes he'd be able to find himself a Scottish bird to stay with to avoid returning to Croatia. So girls, if you're interested...

The night continued like this, whisked round various places and pubs, until it was time to end as Pete had to be for 6am the next morning, for work. I was knackered, as it had been a long day, and Simon was likewise (though at any one time there is a 93% chance Simon will be knackered) so we slept quite well.

Today then, it was just Ivan, who we met at 11am. No car, but just as well, as he showed us around on foot. The city centre is rather pleasant and I could definitely spend a day just looking around it. Frustratingly, there was a big tower which you could go up - but Ivan didn't want to. Agh. No matter, he did take us up one of the hills the city clutches to, which afforded a great view. There was a cafe/bar on it too, which made for a pleasant drink. Even if Ivan did vanish to the toilets for a suspiciously long time, returning seeming decidedly more spaced than before.

Because, yes, Ivan does have a problem. Made moreso by the fact that upon returning home last week, he's been kicked out by his family, and so is having to stay with friends for the time-being. And I - and Simon too I'm sure - feel helpless. I'm just a tourist in this city and a tourist to Ivan's life. All I can do is pass through and observe. Ivan knows he's got a problem but doesn't seem in a hurry to sort it out. All I feel able to do is give glib advice - "these things just take time" etc - which is no good. Ivan's a nice guy, he really is, but he's going nowhere and doesn't seem to want to go anywhere. Not really. If there was something I could do in the space of my two day visit I would - and paying for some food and a couple of drinks doesn't count - but I can't because I'm only a tourist here. I'm going to keep in contact with him, and I hope he sorts himself out, but he seems less likely to now than he did last week. Last week he was needing a fix and was very honest about it, and about being a "slave to drugs". Now he's got his fix, he seems less concerned and more content.

Anyway, that's all for now. Tomorrow, Mostar probably.

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