all my heroes are weirdos

We're All Mad Here

villa radulj

I am Eat Pray Loving the hell out of life right now.

I’ve got that giddy Christmas morning feeling in my stomach, like there’s so much excitement and joy inside that I’m physically going to combust. I’m just in love with life.

I actually started yesterday out feeling slightly more homeless and exhausted than ever, lying on a bench in my #activewear at five o’clock in the morning, overlooking the Pelješac Peninsula, trying to get even just an hour’s uninterrupted sleep.

Rewind four hours

I was woken by a bird that sounded like it needed a pull of my Grandma’s inhaler. It was making an alarming gaspy squawking noise every two to three seconds without floundering…from the tree directly above my tent. Before long, he or she was joined by the rest of the flock so there was a whole gaspy chorus in practice and I had front row seats.

I’m all for adventures, camping, tramping and everything but I’m now averaging three hours’ sleep a night, I’m crippled from the biking and hiking and I’ve got bruises on both hips from sleeping on the ground (I brought fairy lights but forgot the airbed). I’ve loved every minute so far, even the painful ones, but this was supposed to be a holiday…

I looked at a few options on Mljet, thought about island hopping to Korčula then had an absolute lightbulb moment.

VILLA RADULJ

I would never ever have stumbled across or thought to seek out this absolute gem of a place if it wasn’t for tracking down Camp Lovor.

When I first arrived at Kozarica (easy to remember because it sounds like a lazy voiced Costa Rica), the first person I saw was Marin’s mother sat outside Villa Radulj peeling onions into a plastic bowl, a scene I’ve witnessed every day ever since I got here and have come to love. I remember stopping to think ‘wow’ at how quaint and endearing this whole place was, like a Mediterranean Secret Garden.

Marin returned from a couple of days with his family in Dubrovnik and I collared him immediately with my need-a-bed dilemma. Give me ten minutes he said….

And, as promised, ten minutes later I’ve got myself a perfect little apartment with a big double bed, air con, a sparkling clean bathroom, a mini kitchenette and a sofa, right next to my new favourite restaurant and with a view of the Adriatic.

Marin shows me around my new home, sees how excited I am and gives me a big hug then welcomes me with a homemade dessert wine while pointing out Mljet’s must-sees on the map.

Živeli!

(cheers)

This morning, after a coma like sleep I headed down for a breakfast treat. Grainy homemade marmalade spread over a fresh loaf of bread made my Marin’s mother, washed down with a Lavazza cappuccino.

It was served up by Tina who I’d noticed had been working round the clock at Villa Radulj for the last few days. She’s blonde haired, petite, wears her hair in a top bun and has that yogini look about her. We get talking and my eyes light up instantly…

Tina comes from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and this is her second season working at Villa Radulj. Last winter she went backpacking around Thailand and Cambodia for four months, spending weeks on end at yoga retreats – fasting and meditating and meeting new people. She wants to work through the summer here to pay off her debts and when summer’s over, she’ll make a start on setting up her own business.

Sick of ‘people in Croatia saying they have to go elsewhere to find work, off to Germany to clean other peoples’ houses’, she wants to do something herself. She uttered words of The Secret, in that she’s not worried about money because, if she wants something and believes in it, it will happen.

Tina’s business ideas was something really quite surprising and unique. She reached up on her tip toes to the top shelf behind the bar and pulled out an ornament. It was a little cottage, on top of a slab of stone, handmade by Marin’s brother. She wants to make these but in the style of fairy houses and sell them online. It’s her fairytale that will come true, and I’ve promised to be one of her first customers.

Marin and Tina – two new Heroes to add to my collection.

And just as if the last twenty-four hours couldn’t get any more brilliant, I spent the better part of an hour watching a family of five excitedly snorkeling around the marina. The kids were squealing with excitement, the toddler stomping her feet and they were all pointing down at something curiously. One of the girls took off her snorkel and dove down into the waters, to pick up the shiny beauty from the bottom of the seabed.

Maybe we’re in for a little Samsung miracle.

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