When I lay my head down to sleep tonight, I am not thinking about the usual travel adventures but of war and the long lingering effects it has amongst its people and upon the land.
Its been about 20 years since the war in Croatia raged. The ruins here tell a similar story to that of the locals. Run for your life or be destroyed. Thousands of homes, businesses and farming land lay ruined or scarred across Croatia but in this village, at least for the duration of the war they lost everything. Tourists, families and what military lived, ran for their lives or took to the sea. Most have never returned.
Stumbling across these abandoned buildings while trying to find a free camp was intriguing for a naïve Australian from the forest. With the personal protection of my husband I walked through many of the rooms and lobbies of these once prestigious hotels imagining a shocking and scary past. Now they are home to few and a novelty for many.
Trashed and littered with rubbish they stand testimony not only to the brutal past but to the disorganised governmental controls of today and a youth with no amusement.
We discovered that when the Bosnians invaded the coastline they took many of the hotels and houses in this area for themselves, using them to house their own. The entire tourist strip was captured by the military and used as a centre point for their warfare.
Today I saw the past and felt the energy of pain and loss. For some they reside here, amongst the burnt remains, with no other options but mostly it just falls apart. Rumble and graffiti joining hands in the current fight against tourism and international property ownership and development.
For me, for my family, it was a reminder how fortunate we are.
I left the ruins this morning, allowing nature and the locals to reclaim their stake but not before meeting Marco who slept in his car right beside our bus. A local guy who felt the pain of this land just as much, if not more than ourselves. We talked, shared porridge, sling shots, pheasant feathers and dried mushrooms. It was camp site to be remembered.
Love to you Marco and all the people of these lands. So much healing to be done. So much learning from these walls and their scars.