Friday, October 05, 2001

Ok. Read this entry particularily carefully, because I'm going to throw in a slightly unexpected sentence during it.

I'm obviously still in Zagreb as I write now, and the last few days have been a mixture of the relaxed, the tiring, the expected and the perhaps slightly less than expected. It's still warm and sunny here, and attractive girls in every nook and cranny. I'm feeling a little crappy at this immediate moment in time, but that's only due to this general trend of continual drinking that seems to dominate life right now. I haven't had a drink all day, so I'm getting some withdrawal symptoms obviously.

So, what's been happening then? I'll go chronologically, because it's a pretty sensible way to structure things, y'know.

So I think it was Monday I last wrote. Was it? Maybe Tuesday. Yeah, Tuesday. Not much really happened on Tuesday, or if it did I certainly can't recall. I think I had a couple of drinks with Simon but it was an early night.

Wednesday then, and upon eventually getting up and getting into town, I took a wander to find the old disused factory that is hopefully the site of tonight's "Theory of Techno" club. Or "rave" I suspect these backwards people still call it. Rave, what an awful word. Mind you, so is "clubbing". Clubbing just conjures up images of awful blondes in stilletos, wearing tight white dresses and with too much makeup. I'll have to devise a word that I find suitable. How about "zeephar"? But anyway, I took a wander and would have found this factory after 20 minutes had I any powers of observation, but instead I spent well over an hour walking by the side of the river. But eventually my heightened senses tracked down this old disused factory, and it looked pretty cool. So I will probably be there tonight, if all goes to plan (which is by no means certain).

I think just did a little wander round the city, looking at stuff in my own vacant way and at just before half 7, I met up with Simon at the statue of the guy on the horse (he killed Turks apparently) in the big city centre square. The plan was for a couple of drinks, and see what happens. So Simon went off to see if he could reach Nina on the phone.

It was then that I met the heroin addicted, AWOL Croation soldier. He approached me thinking I was from Zagreb, and might be selling drugs. On Tuesday we're going to visit his home in Split. If he doesn't murder us and sell our possessions for drugs, he's going to show us around the area. His name is Ivan.

Yes, this was one of the more unexpected twists of our travelling so far. Of course, the above paragraph took a good few hours to slowly develop. Fortunately the 8 or 9 years all Croatian kids learn English for proved very useful, and Ivan was very proficient. He had a couple of bags with him and as we waited for Simon, we got talking. He'd been in the military - compulsory for all Croatian males for about a year - but had had enough and had decided to "escape". His home wa in Split but they'd posted him on the other side of the country, and he hated it. He was the same age as me.

He had his train to catch at 10.45pm, but until then was just wanting something to do (use illegal drugs, it transpired later). He was bored. He'd been in the city all day and had absolutely nothing to do, no-one to speak and no money. Simon arrived back and we all talked a little longer. Simon and I were going for a meal, so we told Ivan we'd be happy to buy him a drink. He initially declined out of politeness, but we convinced him it was no problem.

He was very grateful, and Simon insisted upon feeding him a slice of pizza. We talked about various things, and it was when at the following pub it came out he was a heroin addict, for the last year. He said he knew it was wrong, he knew he was a "slave to drugs" and he knew he was a bad person, but he was a danger only to himself. It was, although he never said so in quite so many words, why he was going AWOL. He has dealers in his home in Split but not where he was stationed with the military.

He was however a genuinely decent guy. In Split there's a big problem it seems, and he'd just succumbed to peer pressure. He knew he was weak, but just couldn't do anything about it. The military wasn't helping because if they found out it'd be hell to pay.

Anyway, to cut everything short, we got on well and we've agreed to meet with him in Split. I know, written down, some would call it unwise to be meeting with crazed drug addicted AWOL Croatian soldiers, but he was a good guy. It wasn't as if he was tagging onto us, leeching drink. We had to insist, and he was very grateful, hence he should be giving us a tour of the area when we get there. Whether that means a tour of syringe-filled drug dens remains to be seen. But no, seriously, I have a feeling now that my mother is going to be getting all worried but hey, what's the worst that can happen?


No, it's cool. Mum - chill out.

We let him get his train, and we'll meet him in a few days again. We just went to bed after that.

The next morning (Thursday)I was up fairly early and immediately made another useful contact. In the hostel was a Croatian girl called Marina, just staying there overnight as part of some travelling. She was just about to head back home to Sarajevo (which for those not up to scratch on geography of the area, is in landmine-filled Bosnia) but gav me her email and said that if I got in contact in the next couple of weeks, she'd still be around and would show us about. Avoiding the landmines and all that. So Sarajvo will likely be our next stop after Split. We were going to go there anyway because it has an Indian restaurant and I'm dying for a good curry.

After that I was treated to coffee by the very lovely cleaner - "Seca" - and the hostel daughter, Leia. Along with a German guy and girl who have since disappeared, and later Simon and an English guy called Matthew. The hostel we're in really is great. Just so friendly and relaxed. Man, Seca sure can talk. But it's cool, and I hope it doesn't change with time as the hostel is still fresh and new.

Me and Simon took a few trams and buses and a very long walk up a steep hill to a castle with a good view but a tower that I wasn't allowed to the top of. Tch. We went back to the hostel where we found we were sharing our room now with a Swiss guy. Swiss! No fears, I tore into the Swiss later on, after a few drinks. The most neutral nation on Earth. And proud. Nah, I let the poor guy off from my full wrath. With Matthew we went to a very Archies-style pub (no doubt pleasing Simon who always inexplicably liked Archies) which had cheap but good drink, and a table full of neo Nazis.

Leading onto today then, and if Nina's got over her apparent food poisoning (honestly, you'd think the girl was avoiding us...) we'll meet up with her, along with Anthony with Swiss guy and Matthew the English guy. Oh, and Hannah the American bird, who we met today too at the hostel.

And tomorrow we see Croatia vs Belgium, silently willing the Belgians to thrash Croatia so Scotland have a chance of qualification. From what Seca said, the Croatian fans can be a little violent, so I'll try and suppress me cheers when Belgium score their 5th.

So that's me then. In Zagreb, only a little hungover, and making good friends with drug addicts.

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