Those Zen moments
16. Juli 2011 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar
I’ve arrived in Split with a bit of a split identity. Coast or inland, that is the question that keeps bugging me. I followed the coast road for two episodes of heat, dust and noise as well as the collected touristic furor of half of Europe from Sweden through Poland to (let’s not forget them) locals who file across the road for a day’s outing on the beach. Some of them are on their way as early as half past seven to beat the heat, crossing the Jadranska magistrala carefully with their pink air mattresses and inflated rubber pets.
It’s not what I’ve been looking for on this trip, masses basking on the sea shore and shopping for trinkets in the narrow streets of medieval towns. They shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, though, just like the heat. Hey, stupid, I mean, what do you expect?
I withdraw nilly-willy into the hilly back country like a silly Billy, confronting dirt tracks and pot-holes. And more heat. I think I’m being clever by choosing a route, between Sibenik and Split, that follows a train track loyally, believing that train lines are never constructed with steep inclines, and so the gradients would be bearable for me too. That turns out to be mostly true, except for the last bit, when after a long run downhill, I find myself in a closed-in valley, without a river running to the sea. I have to climb another 300 metres or so, while the train line clings firmly to the shoulder of the mountain above me.
Then a miracle happens: The first clouds in 14 days form above me and my bike. I wait diligently for ten minutes until the shadow of one of them has reached my hill, and proceed upward almost joyfully. And the bends on the long way down to the coast are just mind-blowing. A true civil engineering triumph for spreading the difference in altitude over so many kilometres!
Having arrived on the coast, I once again feel like an alien, dust-covered, with salty bands of filtered sweat showing on my shorts, and ready for a long cold shower. But the feeling of alienation persists through the evening. Perhaps it’s also got to do with the fact that I didn’t sleep well in Vodice, in a room in the middle of a tourist quarter, where people celebrated till dawn and the mosquitoes feasted on my blood.
I think they’re right, the tourists, the local holiday-makers and the mozzies: they’d better stick to their customary revelry, it’s a safer guarantee for enjoyment than cycling in the now of this summer. But my trip does have its Zen moments, as the Irish cyclist would agree who I chatted to over breakfast one morning ages ago. Well, it was in Buzet, so it’s only five days ago. This is how this trip extends time.
That cloud that flew in to protect me from the scorching sun was just such a Zen moment.