On the way along the coast of the Istra peninsula which heaved its mountains like soft breasts and bellies of red earth and white rocks we swam in the sea at Pula in the forested campsite jutting out like a medallion into the blue crashing sea in Stoja. It was there I think I got stung by a jellyfish which produced a rash along the back of my left leg, red agitated bumps.
The forested coast reminded me so much of California. I felt like I had wandered into a time machine and was back in Monterey, walking through the trees to a secret cove but the delicious difference here is the water is warm. Brilliant.
And then we traveled up to Bale inland where we searched for EIA, an eco art village planted just outside of Bale, near Krmed where a spiritual man, named Igor began growing his sacred meeting ground with a permaculture graden in the shape of a butterfly and a flower (although not very well attended to because there are only two permanent residents- Lilly his wife and Igor who is tending to the whole organization and then one or two volunteers.)
When we arrived we were just in the midst of a big turning of the tides. A dance group was coming in and a group of shamans from Germany were leaving after a week of secret meetings in the forest and helping to build a giant white teepee, where we found a couple of tanned women sitting on animal skins inside.
Igor was overwhelmed when we arrived and asked Meluka the volunteer from Amsterdam to show us around. She generously took us through the garden showed us the water capturing system, the solar panels and humble windmill. All their power comes from solar and wind. She took us into the handbuilt homes from clay and hay and showed us the outdoor showers, the campground where all the shamans were lazing about or slowly packing up, washing dishes or wandering in the woods, siting in energy circles or one lucky girl up in Nona, the big tree that could cradle you up inside it in a hammock seat. Maluka said that Igo will lead a group of children every Saturday and they go on night walks in the dark with each child holding hands in a single file line to help them appreciate the woods and not be afraid of it. He has yoga practices, dance, permaculture workshops and more. He welcomes volunteers to stay for free and help around the farm and with the visiting groups.
Their food is not sustainable but hopefully in the future once they have finished building the other houses and more people can live there and help with farming.
Everywhere felt full of magic here. Meluka said he had a good intuition for where to buy property. All along our path there were signs marked Fairy Cradle for a mossy cavernous tree and Fairy Forest and fairy swing and Energetic circle and Nona tree. Everything was mossy and curved perfectly for meetings, for human enlightenment purposes.
We came to the end, popping out where we started at Igor’s house and thanked our guide and said our goodbyes with the hope to revisit at a better time. I could have biked right past and had no idea a whole community existed focused on a sustainable, deeper living. Change is always just around the corner. Revolution just beyond those trees.
Then we continued biking for hours and hours over hill after hill through small towns surrounding castles, crumbling white stone walls lining the streets crackling like cookie crumbs. And we made it to , Barban but it had no suitable place to stay, so we had tea and coffee, excellent pizza (pizza is great everywhere in croatia, so influenced by Italy, it seems to be the national dish there at least in Istra) and we geared up for darkness at 9:30pm. I had no headlight and only a tiny red back light. Ben was better prepared but even his strong LED could hardly fill the road with light for both of us to see. But we powered on, immediately hitting difficult gravel path straight downhill and around sharp curves with cars coming around the bend. And we struggled to stay upright without skidding off the side of the road.
We managed to steer our way slowly down the dark gravely mountain, as if we were at the bottom of the ocean with Ben like a small submarine floating behind me and the racing past glowing sharks and whales of cars.
And once we were on concrete again it was lovely for awhile. Cruising along with a slightly warm breeze and cool night, knowing a river ran alongside us but only able to hear its low chortle but this night kindness could not last and we were stricken with the uphill that seemed to never end and my gears were messed up and I hated the world.
We finally found our way down a steep back and forth mountain to Rabac, a tiny inlet coast town, the moonlight welcoming us deep into the cove haven. I zoomed down past Benjamin in almost pure darkness eager to find sanctuary which we at long last did. The Oliva campsite where at first the man at the counter would not let us check in, but after a simple plea, he did and we found our small green plot amidst many RVs and campers and we set up as quickly as we could in the cold and took showers and slept in our cramped little orange tent, breaking one of the tent sticks in the rushed process. Nothing a little duct tape couldn’t fix.
And woke up hot and sweaty with aching backs again to jump in the cold blue water after stumbling into a hotel’s free breakfast buffet and an icecream and up the screaming mountain in the heat. Only five kilometers that took an hour or more. We picnicked in Labin and then on through eternal hills finally hitting a nice almost even road overlooking the coast and we stopped just before nightfall in Dragos, saturated with red, sweaty German tourists. Every building offered rooms and camping in their yards. Everyone got in on the tourism action. We set up on a little plateau hill and ate some grilled vegetables and I was nearly passing out on my plate and crashed to sleep earlier than I wanted.
The next day we made it to our destination, which I could see in the distance the whole last leg of the trip- Rijeka seeming a stones throw away across the sea and we sailed in after more hills and climbs in and out of beautiful sea towns with gorgeous Italian old ornate resorts and pockets of bright blue water and people laying about under their umbrellas letting the sun drain their bodies.
We made it to Rijeka, the third biggest town in Croatia and got our tickets for Slovenia- Ljubljana, the city of love.