When City Girl Meets Croatia
I grew up visiting my moms family in Oregon almost every Summer. Every time my uncles saw me their first response would be, “Hey there city girl!” I never really felt too much of a city girl. I spent my summers hopping in creeks, jumping off bridges, going Quadding and four-wheeling and taking up the hobby of hunting for worms and snakes, so I didn’t feel too much of the ‘city girl’ they referred to me as.
It wasn’t until I was in Croatia that that title was given to me by someone who wasn’t one of my uncles. This time, I did not dispute the very city girl I had felt in that moment, with the feelings of discontent a city girl would feel and the dismayed look I gave my friend for her calm demeanor through the whole adventure.
I met a girl named Erica in Spain. We both are California girls who had quit everything to embark on a long journey, one that wouldn’t end until our bank accounts wouldn’t allow us another day of venturing. We chatted at our hostel of our long travel journeys and within minutes, she had booked a ticket to Hideout Festival in Novalja, Croatia.
Months go by and Hideout Festival came and went with all of those who came barely making it out alive. Two days after the festival, we decided to head to the famous Plitvice Waterfalls, a UNESCO World Heritage site that consists of some of the most enchanting waterfalls in all of Croatia. We found a beautiful family guesthouse to stay at a few miles outside of town. So far, the Croatians near the falls had shown generosity we did not find in Novalja. The owners of the place were an old couple who had their grandson and son helping them out for the busy summer season ahead. We asked how to get to the falls from there and without hesitation, the Grandfather hopped in his car with his grandson to take us to the falls free of charge.
Erica and I walked for hours through the falls. Wooden boards laid about that set a path that allowed tourists to admire the many falls within a close range. Even with the obscene amount of people that were first there when we arrived, the beauty of the falls were grand. The blue and green crystal clear waters with gold-flaked fish swimming around made the entire walk surreal. Waterfalls were everywhere to be seen, a mixture of small, medium and large drizzling down even in the dry July month.
Hours go by and the sun was setting. We asked a worker on the way out where the bus was to go in the direction of our guesthouse. She said there wasn’t any but she was leaving and would give us a ride for part of the way until she would have to turn off the road to get her house. Overjoyed that yet another Croatian showed such trust and generosity, we hopped in her car for a ride. We had not realized at that point exactly how far away the guesthouse was or just how un-walkable the side of the highway we were about to walk was.
She dropped us off and we began to walk with high spirits. Time went by and the walking continued. The side of the road had nearly no room for walkers at all so we squeezed right between the white lines that mark the road and a field of grass that conquered each side of the highway. Cars continued the whizz by at speeds that started to work my nerves. Some cars would see us and drive in the middle of the road in order to give us some comfort to walk along the road while others drove by us full throttle just inches away from hitting us. With each gust of wind I felt from a car flying by, I started to slightly panic. The sun was setting. We were on a highway with turns and I wondered whether a car would fly around a corner and not see us. I envisioned being hit by a car and flown into the fields and whether there was even a hospital nearby. As if the road wasn’t enough to worry about, I tried to keep my distance from the tall grass because of the sounds of rattles that continued as we walked along the road. So here I was, caught between a possibly rattlesnake-filled field and cars that didn’t give a shit how close they came to hitting you.
So, I began to really panic. I kept telling Erica we were going too far and we need to get out. It was then that we decided we needed to hitchhike so we stuck out our thumbs whenever a car drove by. Erica, without a care in the world continued to walk with her thumb not moving an inch from the side of her body fully extended out. And then there was me freaking out as I heard each approaching car coming close and picturing a car swiping my entire arm off my body in my attempt to get a ride home. So every time a car would pass, I’d grab my arm back from hitch-hiking-thumb position and wrap it in my other arm, not sure whether I was sending mixed signals to cars saying, ‘just kidding! Dont need a ride anymore!’ Erica just kept laughing as I was freaking out. I kept asking how she could be so calm about all of this and that’s when “You’re such a city girl” returned once again as my label.
I didn’t care at this point. There were fields of things I did not know of and cars with crazy drivers that didn’t care whether two foreigners were abandoned on a highway. I will take my city girl label and wear it with pride because that whole situation was above what I thought I could handle.
More time and steps and cars went by until FINALLY a lady pulled over and Erica and I ran towards her screaming joyful pleas of “YES!” and “THANKYOU!”. We hop in her car and told her the name of the place we were staying which she surprisingly knew. Erica asked her how she was and she replied “drunk.” She looked below her feet in the passenger seat and found bottles and bottles of empty beer and we laughed, forever grateful that a drunkard had came to our rescue. A few minutes go by and we were parked outside our guesthouse. We ran with excitement and slight disbelief of the adventure that had just taken place.
This city girl had just completed another adventure in Croatia.