Aug 132012

Radovici3 2 of 10 600x400 Montenegro Calling

I missed the opening ceremonies of the London Olympic Games. Just a few hours before the eternal flame was placed in its temporary hold, I loaded our bags into the seemingly insatiable innards of an air-conditioned bus, and we set off to a ten-hour ride to the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. Father, my two younger girls, my niece, and I were ready to separate ourselves from the house and the town that still held so many memories of Mother, new and old.

As the road meandered, following the curves of the river Morava, Father fell asleep, and the girls attacked the snacks I packed with ferociousness equal only to the bunch of high school seniors with buzz cuts who sat behind us.  There was soft, 80s ex-Yugo music in the background and I traveled back in time when there were no limits, no worries, and only wide-opened roads leading to some glorious future.

The bus driver skillfully negotiated serpentine roads as we climbed up and down several mountains that separate my town from the sea. We stopped twice, and chilly air perked us up and made sleeping impossible. I tried to convince the girls to take a small nap, but the excitement about the trip and days to come was too much for them. We crossed the border between Serbia and Montenegro uneventfully, with only a few really funny cracks from the substitute driver meant to make everyone relax.

The sun was barely peeking behind the mountains when we arrived at the bus station of Tivat. Exhausted, but excited, we packed like sardines in Uncle-Minja’s Mercedes and drove away, first along the coast, and then up to their house in Radovići, a small village perched at the top of a hill. Aunt-Sonja greeted us at the wrought-iron gate and ushered us in, and after squeezing us all one by one into a warm hug, lead us upstairs to our rooms covered in stripes from the sun reaching through the slats in dark wooden shutters.

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The girls were amped up, racing to their coveted beds like a horde of college freshmen lose in the dorm for the first time. I had a room all to myself and I felt pampered and special as I stretched luxuriously on my big bed with cool sheets and a light terrycloth cover. The sun was trying to lure us, but we finally succumbed to sleep, exhausted and grateful to be prone after the night on the bus.

But the heat of that July day was fierce and unrelenting and our slumber did not last long. I rose about noon and put all our clothes in the closets and drawers, finally ready to climb down three flights of terazzo stairs for a cup of strong Turkish coffee. The crickets were out in full force, singing their summer song, glorifying the power of sun’s fiery reach. Nothing else stirred, as if the whole world retreated on command, allowing the heat to spread its fingers all over the hills surrounding us.

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The girls emerged a couple of hours later already dressed in their bathing suits, going for the glamour look with their colorful wraps, floppy hats, and sunglasses. We sat at the big table situated on the patio, just off the kitchen door, and ate our lunch, which is the main meal of the day in our parts of the world. Soon after, we gathered our beach towels, mats, bags, lotions, balls, snacks, and water bottles, divided the burden between the four of us, and started our descent towards the sandy beach called Plavi Horizonti (Blue Horizons).

The late afternoon sun took some pity on us and the clear blue water welcomed us without hesitation. Oh, the girls whined about the salt in their eyes and held their noses when they dove under the surface, but their squeals of delight were enough to make me smile. I let them  frolic in the sea, as I stretched on the mat drunk on the smell of the sea, content to wiggle my toes in warm sand and watch good-looking people stroll up and down in the sea foam.

As the daily routine set in, the heaviness I felt before we left disappeared. I felt comforted and cuddled by cloudless Montenegrin skies, the indescribable shade of blue Montenegrin waters, and familiar and friendly taste of Montenegrin red wine. My heart started to heal as I listened to the girls snickering, old tunes on the radio, my Aunt’s witty stories, and my Uncle’s culinary advice.

I still miss Mother and that will never change. But I know that I can wake up in the morning and smile as I greet the new day with enthusiasm and excitement, just like she taught me. She did not want us to cry and grieve, but to rejoice in life and carry on her legacy. As for the Olympic games, I managed to catch a scene or two from the closing ceremonies, and I promised myself to try to make it to Rio in four years.

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9 Responses to “Montenegro Calling”

  1. Hello lovely Lana – so glad you went to the beach to relax and rejuvenate! Lovely story and photos. Will be down south to look at colleges, probably in October but I’ll keep you posted! Are you coming up to Berkeley anytime soon?

  2. What a wonderful way to relax and remember your Mom. I did not know she had passed. {Hugs}

  3. Draga Lana, nisam znala da tvoje mame više nema … iskreno mi je žao. Nadam se da ćeš u društvu svojih kćeri i obitelji naći utjehu. Od srca ti želim da se put u Rio ostvari, sa ili bez olimpijade.

  4. Lana, videla sam fotke na FB i onda sam se rastužila kad sam videla da si opet stigla ove godine jer sam znala zašto si tu. jako je pametno što ste se mrdnuli za odmor i što je deka sa vama. Onaj šešir sa cvetom mu je genijalan. Kupanje u okeanu je nula naspram mora, i to ovog mora, a curama će svakako prijati. Lepo se provedite i pozdravite svaki novi dan pred vama.

  5. Welcome home! I feel as though I made that special journey right with you, such beautifully descriptive writing. We are lucky to have had such loving mothers, weren’t we? They will never leave us -

  6. Lana – I am sorry to hear of the loss of your mother.
    I have found that the combination of sunshine, water and children can go a long way toward healing the soul.

  7. I knew why you went and I’ve thought of you so often. I’m so glad to see this post and know you’re okay and working through the sadness. My heart goes out to you, your dad and your family. The photos are lovely.

  8. There is a quote you reminded me of: ‘The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea’ . In this case, all three. Hugs.- Stephanie

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