PJS HOMEPAGE BACK TO PORTFOLIO
|P H O T O G R A P H Y
Y U G O S L A V I A
|The state of Yugoslavia no longer exists. I was one of the last travel
writers to visit the country, in 1989, before it erupted into internal
secular conflict, with battles between Serbs, Croats, Montanegrans, Christians,
Muslims and seemingly, anyone else who wanted to join the conflict. It
was a horrible, brutal, cruel war with many many thousands killed. I visited
as a guest of Jugoslavian Airlines and Club Marine with the objective of
promoting bareboat charters to the Adriatic Sea - a perfect, calm, beautiful
region of islands and fascinating towns. There were only three in our group,
and after a few days at Dubrovnik, we headed out into the Adriatic under
the guidance of a wonderful skipper, Dragan Igic (thats him below, left).
I wrote an article for Club Marine but any promotional value it may have had was destroyed with the conflict. I wept when I saw that the old town of Dubrovnik was bombed, and only recently learnt that many old irreplaceable buildings were destroyed. I will however never forget the wonderful Placa, particuarly at night, when families came out to dine and socialise. No eight-o'clock-to-bed for the kids - this was a time to live and enjoy the company of friends and neighbours. I remember trying to balance on a stone jutting out from a wall near the fountain - it is said that of you succeed, you will be blessed with eternal life - or something like that. It is hard enough to do, but with a few glasses of Yugoslavian wine under your belt, it is impossible, but great fun.
I remember the marvellous meals of whitebait, and traditional skinless sausage - che-chup-sha-che. Okay, thats not the right spelling, but you get the message. I remember the old and new harbours, the walk round the old city wall, the narrow lanes with their tiny restaurants and alfresco dining. At Hvar, I remember trying to board our yacht fom the rowboat, having had a very pleasant evening in one of the harbour bars. The waters were very cold. And I remember the wonderful people we met. And yet there was sadness in the streets. Inflation was incredible, each day being significant, and the distrust of strangers born of communisim was till apparent.
But we were surprised when, having hailed a taxi to take us to our hotel, and trying very carefully in the slow childish manner of the illiterate tourist to direct the driver, we were confronted with "No problem, Mate". Our driver had spent ten years in Australia and had come home for family reasons. Where is he now I wonder. Where is Dragan? Yugoslavia no longer exists, but the tension persists. Dubrovnik is now in the state of Croatia. May peace reign for many centuries over this troubled land.
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