February 28th, 2009 – by: cneoridium
Crocus starting to sprout, the first flowers of winter
Back in Croatia again! A couple days ago I was working yet another 65-hour week, praying that the project would end before it was time to use my non-refundable ticket... Then after 7 long, Zvonka-less months I was suddenly back! Happy to again hear the sound of impossible-to-learn Croatian and see my friends again. Only a couple weeks this visit, and sick the whole time with an early case of the N1H1 flu, but happy to be back! Not to waste any time, we took an all day roadtrip on day one....
South of Zagreb, south of the airport, the city suddenly ends and miles and miles of tall forests and farms opens up. I took a Saturday afternoon drive with Zvonka and her dad Hrvoje down to see some of the ancient wooden houses - some built 300 years ago - in the villages south of town.
Zvonka (right), Hrvoje (her dad, left), and Zoran - the guy who rescued us from the broken car in 2007
The pavement quickly ends, and potholed dirt logging roads extend to the horizon. The trees were bare this time of year, letting the blue sky show though what would otherwise be a dark canopy of hardwoods. The River Sava has been brought under control with a system of canals and levees, but steams still cross the flatlands under the trees, draining into the wide floodplain. First stop was to visit Hrvoje's friend Zoran, a retired professor who rescued us when we broke down miles out of town in 2007. We spent a while with him showing us improvements he's planning for his house and harvesting screws. ...the guy he had been renting his house to was an office machine repairman, so there was a wealth of screws and tiny machine parts all through the back yard. We passed though a lot of little villages and farms, to see the old building styles in the region. The oak houses are fitted together without nails, and are obviously strong since they've survived several hundred harsh Croatian winters. We ran into another of Hrvoje's friends even deeper in the woods (Croatia's a small place...) and spent some time in his neighborhood, little fishing houses and a hunting club a few hours out of town.