Working man’s beans

Reason #124: eat May 1st bean soup in great company

May 1st is a national holiday in Croatia – International Workers Day and it’s a custom to have a group outing or a picnic, cook a huge pot of bean soup and have fun. It’s an old socialist tradition that is slowly disappearing, but on Brač it’s still alive, luckily.

If you’re going to join one of these bean soup eating festivities, you can go for one of the urban, public events such as the one in Supetar where you could be served by the cool new mayor Ivana Marković…

Photo source: Ivana Marković FB page

… or you can go old-school and have a picnic at 600 m above sea level, up on the Vidova gora mountain, with the great folks from the “Profunda” hiking club.

Master Chef stirring the meat and the beans: Jurica a.k.a. “Lola”

The line forms quickly :)

The trick is to scoop out your ideal proportion of soup, beans, sausages and meat. 


Second helpings are not at all frowned upon, but some room should be left for the dessert. Great news, there’s always dessert in Croatia :)

The hardest part of a May 1st outing is getting back home when you’re completely stuffed and relaxed. Fortunately, when you’re at Vidova gora you can always say: “It’s all down hill from here”.

Ferry rides to and from Brač

Reason #121: riding the ferry can be anything you want it to be

372672718_73bc54054c_z When I first thought of living on Brač the fact that I had to get there by ferry each time seemed like a hassle. And it sure can be. But I’ve also since come to embrace the positive aspects of it. So, let’s do another pros&cons list. But first let’s watch this fun video:

And now the pros&cons list…

Cons of ferry rides to and from Brač:

  • they take a long time (50 minutes!)
  • the tickets are kind of expensive (pricelist PDF)
  • tickets for bicycles are ridiculously expensive IMO: 38kn
  • you’re stuck, you can’t go anywhere for an hour
  • the wi-fi is there to tease, but you can’t actually log onto it
  • if the weather is bad it’s not as fun
  • if the wind is really strong, especially on the Sumartin-Makarska side, the ferry won’t run

Pros of ferry rides to and from Brač:

  • they’re not that long (just 50 minutes)
  • if you live on the island you pay half the price for everything (people, bike, car)
  • you can’t go anywhere for an hour so you can get a lot of things done: read, work, write blog posts, chat with people, play cards, think, meditate, people-watch, etc.
  • you run into people you know and hang out
  • you can sit outside and enjoy the sun, even get a tan
  • you can sit inside and enjoy the A/C
  • there’s a bar
  • there are toilets, with toilet paper
  • there’s a tv and if you love soaps and the news, you’re in the right place

Here’s a great page (unfortunately, facebook) with lots of pics and videos from all the ferries to and from Dalmatian islands, including Brač: Uživo s dalmatinskih trajekata / Live from Dalmatian ferries

Za križen – Following the Cross

Reason #119: follow the Cross in a traditional Easter procession

Za križen is a procession ritual, part of the Catholic Easter tradition observed in Dalmatian towns and villages.

The start of the procession varies. In Selca, Sumartin and Novo Selo it starts on Friday morning. The three villages start at their own church and walk to the next village and back. Without running into each other.

The Selca procession starts at 6 am.


It follows the old road to Sumartin


At the same time, the procession from Sumartin heads to Selca, but via another route, so that the two processions never meet.


The Selca procession arrives in Sumartin and is met by Roman soldiers who escort us to the church of St. Martin. The march of the soldiers is eerie and impressive.




IMG-20140418-01572 IMG-20140418-01573

Photo courtesy of  Žudije Sumartin.

Here’s a tip for those who intend to join Za križen for the first time: try to be at the front of the procession, where all the singing and the decorum is happening. If you hang in the back it can be annoying and the magic is lost, as most people chat and instead of thinking of Christ and His suffering, they’re more interested in “Whose house is that? Check out those curtains!”, “When was the last time he trimmed his olive trees”, and such.

In the evening we gather in Selca again, for another service and procession. The streets of Selca are lit up by torches and people sing hymns all the way. It’s beautiful.

Change of guards at the tomb of Jesus in the church Krista Kralja in Selca.


In the video you would have heard a loud, rattling noise. That would be these:


Rachet or škrpajke are carried in the procession (by kids mostly) and at certain points the procession stops, the singing stops and on command all the rachets make noise in unison.

Although many Dalmatian towns and villages observe this tradition, the most famous and reportedly the most impressive Za križen procession is the one on the island of Hvar. It even made the prestigious UNESCO Cultural Heritage listing.

More on the Easter tradition in Selca and Sumartin in this post: Easter ritual of Žudije – Roman soldiers

Saint John Paul II in Selca

Reason 117: one of the first statues of saint John Paul II

This morning, Pope Francis canonized Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.

Artist: Kuzma. Kovačić; photo courtesy of Tourist Board Selca, by Daniel Troha Photography

John Paul II was revered by Croatians. The people of Selca built a statue of him back in 1996, out of gratitude for his support during Croatia’s bid for independence.

And today they celebrated his canonization.


Photos courtesy of

Same old, same old

Reason #116: life can be monotonous by comparison

It hasn’t gotten to me yet, but people keep warning me about this – life on Brač, or any island and any rural area, can get a bit repetitive and monotonous. At least for those who are used to a life in the big city.

You keep seeing the same people, the same scenery, your routine doesn’t vary much from day to day.

And of course, the same old scene at local cafes.

Photo by vankufer


Mišanca – edible wild greens

Reason 113: you can pick your own wild greens and cook a healthy, yummy meal

This particular reason for living on Brač would probably make my top ten on any given day. What you need here is a plastic bag (Konzum, Tommy, Kerum, Studenac… any of these will do ;)), a handy knife, knowing where to look and which plants are edible. The latter two I’m not good at yet, so for now I just go with Aunt Nada and follow her lead. IMG-20140226-01074 Once you’ve got a bag full, you can go home and clean it before cooking. IMG-20140226-01075 Cooking is simple. Just boil the water, add some salt and don’t cook for too long. You can also add potatoes, and if you don’t have a lot of mišanca, add any other greens you can buy or grow, such as blitva (chard). Blitva and potatoes will also soften the otherwise strong flavor of concentrated mišanca, if that’s prefereable. IMG-20140223-01049

Some of the plants that go into mišanca: žutinica, kostrič, radič, divlji luk, koromač, martaduha.

There is a guidebook on Brač wild plants which can help you identify the mišanca plants. Read about the guidebook here.

Easter ritual of Žudije – Roman soldiers

Reason #110: attend a very special ritual on Easter Saturday to see Roman soldiers fall at the tomb of Jesus

To skip to the highlight of the ritual, go to 1:50

Easter is an intriguing holiday as it is, but in these here parts they add even more excitement to the festivities with  Žudije – 13 men dressed as Roman soldiers. Both Selca and Sumartin have their Žudije organizations. In some Dalmatian villages and towns this tradition has been observed since before WWII.

selca.sol Žudije from Selca, selački soldati župe Gospe Karmelske (Photo

zudije_rogotin2010413 Žudije from Sumartin, sumartinski žudije župe sv. Martina (Photo

Žudije take part in ceremonies starting with Easter Thursday. The highlight is the reenactment of the moment Roman soldiers realized Christ was resurrected. At that moment the soldiers first fall to the ground then flee the tomb as angels appear. Although the basic premise is the same, the beauty of the tradition is that each Žudije club has their own performance style and costumes. All the Žudije organizations gather each year on Easter Monday to show off their styles and compete for the title of the best Žudije of Croatia.

zudije_rogotin8010413 Last year’s Žudije festival in Rogotin. (Photo:

Good luck to our Žudije at tomorrow’s festival in Vrlika!

More info (in Croatian) and photos: Žudije on Wikipedia , Slobodna Dalmacija article, Tourist Board Selca photos and (in English): Žudije of Vid


UPDATE from this year’s festival in Vrlika:

Slobodna dalmacija article with photos

Žudije from Selca with their youngest member Niki :)

zudije_vrlika1 zudije_vrlika2
Photos by Loreta Mošić. Thanks!

More on the Easter tradition in Selca and Sumartin in this post: Za križen – Following the Cross

WWII Partisans remembered

Reason #105: the Selca elementary school is dedicated to the fallen Partisans

Elementary school in Selca was built in 1982. and dedicated to the local men and women who were killed in World War II on the side of the Partisans – National Liberation Army.

The plaque and stone relief inside the school:

“Besmrtni kao ovaj dragi kamen. Uspravni jarbol u plovidbi vijeka. Vi ste ovih zora svjetlo i znamen.”

“Spomen školu podiže narod ovog kraja da bi svjedočila pokoljenjima kako se rađala sloboda ove zemlje. 

My grandfather’s name on the commemorative plaque – Vjeko Štambuk (Miloša). He died in 1945. Just days before the war ended.


Palm (olive) Sunday

Reason #103: bring your olive branch to Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday Catholics other Christians gather in a ritual to commemorate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, before he was crucified. They carry with them palm branches, or in our case, olive tree branches.

Olive branches in front of the old church in Selca.

Don Jakša, the parish priest, blesses the branches before the procession. Choir ladies sing and we say prayers.


Everyone joins in the procession to the cathedral.

IMG-20140413-01547 IMG-20140413-01544 IMG-20140413-01541

Most people bring their own olive branches. But some go the extra mile in effort and creativity:

Special “palm branch” made by Marina Jakšić.

And my friend Ruža with her bunch of olive branches and sun in her eyes :)


Sign your name across my… beach

Reason #99: if you’re ego trippin’ you can carve your name into a rock (but please don’t)


Brač stone is relatively soft, so it’s great for sculpting and carving. I’d rather you didn’t practice this skill on my beach, but if you’re a cocky adolescent desperate to impress a girl (or a boy), I guess you can’t really help it.

Lame, Božidar. Really lame, dude.

And not particularly skillful either.

Poskok wannabe

Reason #97: carve out a wooden snake if you can’t find the real deal

(Mama, ne čitaj dalje. Slika zmije! Nije prava, ali sliči.)

Poskok is the most poisonous snake in Europe and we got them on Brač. But more on the real deal in another post.

This post is dedicated to its impostor, a wannabe Poskok carved out of a piece of wood found on Vidova gora.

The fact that it’s fake won’t help my mom who’s terrified of anything that even resembles a snake. Let’s hope she reads the warning before she looks further.


The artist is Jurica aka “Lola”, a fellow hiker in the “Profunda” hiking club. It took him about 10 minutes, as something to do on a marenda (brunch/lunch) break.

Scarcity and Lent

Reason #88: a sense of scarcity

We’re in the middle of Lent right now and that means that many Christians are using this time to give up something and reflect on their relationship with God, with themselves, with material possessions, addictions, and much more.

Living on a rock where resources can be scarce and historically people have had very tough lives, it makes you think of the act of abstaining in a different way.

For a lot of people Lent is about removing excess from one’s life and making a personal sacrifice. But I’m thinking, what is the point of doing that in a place that has been in constant state of scarcity since its first inhabitants, all the way up to recent modern times?

What would my grandma, and even my mom, have abstained from for 40 days? Not cake or meat, that’s for sure. They were hard-working, poor and hungry for at least half of their lives. If they finally had a bit of excess later in life, shouldn’t they enjoy it?

And even though most people don’t go hungry on Brač these days, and a few are even quite affluent, the general sense of scarcity is still present. Call it gene memory or culture or mentality, it’s there somehow.

I have no point here. Just something to think about.



Jokes about Bračani, part IV

Reason #84: just when you thought there weren’t any more jokes to be proud or embarrassed about…

Two Bračani stood on the pier and dared one another:

“We’ll both jump in and whoever comes up for air first is buying dinner.”

They both drowned.

Source: Marjan U., via his mom ;)

Iz Amerik

Reason #79: a trunk full of Brač immigration history

On the trunk it says: Mr. Eugen ing. Grgurević; at Peter Carevich (Carević) 466 W. 22 Str, San Pedro, California, U.S.A.

I’m guessing this trunk was sent by Petar Carević with goods to feed the family in Selca. Probably flour, sugar, salt, all the basics…

I found out about him in the book “Iseljenici otoka Brača” (Brački zbornik 13). He was born in 1892 and immigrated to the US in 1909.

Many Bračani immigrated to the United States (but also South America, Germany, Australia, Canada…). Their stronghold in the US is still San Pedro, CA. They contributed significantly to the fishing industry there.

Immigration is a huge part of Brač history and I’ll talk about it in another post in more depth.


UPDATE: Another trunk, this time the sender and the recipient seem to be the same person – T. Ursich and Tonči Ursić…. They’re both Tonči Ursić, but they’re different people. Tonči is a popular name in Dalmatia :)


Trunk photo op thanks to Doris :)


Croatians of my generation will know why this topic reminds me of this particular song ;)

Brass ABBA

Reason #77: you can join a brass band in Selca and play ABBA’s greatest hits

The brass band is called “Hrvatski sastanak 1888” and it was formed in 1939.

Everyone is welcome to join and learn how to play one of the brass instruments. You just have to know how to blow air out of your mouth, basically, and you’ll learn :)

You’re never alone, part II

Reason #75: there’s always people around, even when you don’t want it

The other day I talked about the great aspect of you’re never alone, how there’s always people there for you when you need it.

The other side of that coin is that you could miss the lack of anonymity that a big city offers, the lack of being able to just not deal with anyone if you don’t feel like it. In a big city, if you wanted to, you could go for days without seeing anyone you know. And I don’t mean being stuck in your apartment, not at all. You can go out among people, do stuff, have fun… all the while being anonymous, if you wanted to.

Also, it’s pretty hard to do anything in a small place like this, without someone finding out. And by “someone” I mean “everyone”, in most cases. There are people who are discrete – I know some of them and respect them for it greatly, but that’s more of an exception, rather than a rule.

There are some solutions to this. You can leave every so often, either to a big city (Split is close by), or to a secluded spot (there are plenty of those on Brač).

You’re never alone

Reason #69: people are there for you if you need them

The good thing about living in a small place like this is that you are never completely on your own. Especially if you’re sick or having a hard time in some way. There will always be people, neighbors, family or friends, to help you out. They’ll check up on you, bring you food, run errands. That’s a comforting feeling.

Having lived in cities all my life, it’s a completely new paradigm to get used to.

There’s another side to this, but that’s for another time.

To all the Selčanke

Reason 67: the women of Selca

Here’s a bouquet of wild flowers for all the ladies of Selca on this International Women’s Day.


To all the moms, grandmas, sisters, daughters, aunts . To all the married ones, single, widowed and divorced ones. To stay-at-home moms, to entrepreneurs and other working women. You cook and clean and bake and take care of everyone. To the wonderful nuns who take care of our grandmas at the old persons’ home . To our doctor and nurses. To the waitresses in our cafes. To the teachers and the staff at the elementary school. To our hairdressers. To the women working at the općina, tourist board, pharmacy, supermarket… to all of them. You are wonderful! :)

And did you think today would go by without a party? No way, check this out:IMG-20140304-01097Poster inviting us to a Woman’s Day party at Ružmarin (restaurant in Selca). There’ll be live music by Trio Brač and lots of food and drinks, of course. 

I was told there’s going to be old-fashioned ballroom dancing, so that’s exciting. But I was also told you need a date for one of these things, so I’ll have to give it a miss. Maybe next year :)

UPDATE: the ball was cancelled and later I found out that there was a strip show in Povlja. A strip show, with an actual stripper. A male stripper…. and I missed it!!!

Poster advertising a Women’s Day show with live music from Duo No Stress, plus a male stripper. The poster is stuck to a bus stop in Novo Selo. 

Masquerade ball

Reason #64: another serious carnival business matter: maškare

Grownups dressing up and acting silly is a serious matter in Selca. The big masquarade ball was held this past Friday. All part of the carnival festivities.

Check out the Babushke Family. Amazing costume work. Kudos guys!

And how about these Smurfs. With a (friendly) Gargamel, Smurfette, the works!

Two pirate dudes and a scary lady. Tres chic!


The ball was held at the Sokolana hall in Selca, with live music from Slaven & Pero. I had to miss it this year, unfortunately, but I hear it was a blast.

Photos by: Marina Jakšić, Irma Bezmalinović Eterović i Nenad Živković. Hvala vam svima!

Krnovaj – Carnival

Reason #63: serious carnival celebrations in Selca

Krnovaj is the local name for Carnival. It’s part of the European tradition that precedes Lent. The festivities include masquerade balls, kids and grownups dressing up and going around the neighborhood (similar to American trick or treating), processions, recitals and burning symbolic figures in effigy.

Krnovaj in Selca is a big deal. A group of locals get together and think up skits mocking local ‘celebrities’ and public figures.

Poster, announcing Krnovaj festivities.

Mr. Krnovaj (effigy) and his guards, just before the show.

Ms. Lilly as the Raffle Ticket Master.

The Selca movie theater was packed.

The two and a half hour show was really funny, sometimes mean (to the ones it was mocking), though.

“Zumbice”, one of the many funny sketches at this year’s show.

I didn’t win anything in the raffle and I wasn’t mocked in the skits. I have a year to do something crazy enough or important enough for them to  make fun of me next year.

The procession was cancelled due to rain (but no rain check, unfortunately).

“Can you please get that? You’re….”

Reason #55: great excuses when you want someone else to do it for you

Let’s say you’re lounging after lunch and you want to read the magazine that’s just out of reach and you don’t feel like getting up… if you’re in Selca you’re in luck because ever since I can remember people here have had this 3-part menu to choose from when they want someone else to get them something out of reach.

You can’t use all three at once, you pick the one you think is best suited for the occasion and the person you’re trying to manipu…. erm, you’re trying to get to do this for you. Here they are…

“Can you please get that? You’re…

  1. Ti si mlađa (You’re younger)
  2. Tebi je lakše (It’s easier for you)
    and my favorite of all
  3. Kad si već na nogan (You’re on your feet already)

Here’s an example of how that goes:

“Ajme, Jube, daj mi te novine sa stola… ti si mlađa.”

“Nu, Nado, stav vo u frižider…. kad si već na nogan.”

“Mali, odnes vo doma… tebi je lakše.”

All three can be used even when they are not true. The person doesn’t have to be younger, for example, or really fully standing up even. And often it can’t be objectively assessed what is “easier for you”.

Jokes about Bračani, part III

Reason #49: even more jokes to be proud or embarrassed about

A Bračanin is on his death bed.

Bračanin: Woman, are you there?
Wife: I’m here, I’m here.
Bračanin: Are the kids here, too?
Wife: They’re here.
Bračanin: Then why the hell is the light in the kitchen still on?!

I’m totally with him on this one :D

“Pus me stat”

Reason #46: an expression you can use to get people off your back

One of the staples of local communication style, the expression “Pus me stat” (poos meh stat), can be translated as “Leave/let me be” or “Don’t bother me with that”.

In this benign form it’s used when a person just doesn’t feel like talking about something, for example. “Ma, pus me stat, čoviče. Dosta mi je govorenja o politici.” (Don’t bother me with  politics, man. I’m sick of talking about it.)

It still might sound rude to an outsider, but it’s not meant aggressively and it’s perfectly acceptable to talk like this here without anyone getting offended.

In a more aggressive form, it’s used when a person is agitated and then it means: “Leave me alone!”. You’ll hear older men say this, after a lot of nagging from their wives: “Ma, pus me stat, ženo! Gren ća!” (Leave me alone, woman! I’m outta here) … and off they go to play cards or watch sports with other men at the local cafe. They come back later like nothing happened :)

Jokes about Bračani, part I

Reason #37: take pride in (or be embarrassed about) hearing jokes at the expense of your Bračka stinginess

People of Brač (Bračani) are infamous for their stinginess and are the butt of many jokes on the subject. Here’s one:

“In the Winter, when it gets cold on the island, all the people in the village huddle up around a candle, to keep warm.

And when it gets really, really cold… they even light the candle.”


PS Growing up I used to make fun of my mom for being stingy, but now I notice myself that I think twice before I light that proverbial candle. It’s in the DNA, I guess.