Brač Ice Ice Baby

Reason #140: Brač has its own ice brand – I dare any island in the world to top that!

Ice cube vending machine. It says “Brački led” / “Brač ice” on it. It also says to call the number for ice deliveries. Finally a weird and creative business idea.  I hope it takes off. IMG-20140519-02496 Erm.. what’s a dog got to do with the ice? It’s not even a Dalmatian. IMG-20140519-02498 Is it any good, you ask? Does it taste different? I wouldn’t know. I was too Bračanka to spend any money to find out :D ————————— This post wouldn’t be complete without this:

Flying off course to live on Brač, of course

Reason #139: Brač is so awesome that even river birds fly over from the mainland to live here

This little fella flew into a neighbor’s yard the other day.

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It’s a Little bittern. No idea how and why it flew all the way here.

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Then we checked out the wing span…. so that answers the “how” it flew all the way over here. But “why”… it must have been reading this blog and all the great pros of living on Brač. That must be it.

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If it lives around fresh water, looking at the map, the nearest river is Cetina. It would have been some 20km in a straight line.

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At the time the photo was taken we didn’t know which bird it was, except that it was probably a river bird. Sandy and Marijana gave us the name. Thanks, guys!

Diocletian: “Come back to Rome, are you crazy?!”

Reason #135: living on Brač makes you feel like a Roman emperor

The legend has it that after Diocletian retired from being a very successful Roman emperor and moved into his palace in Split, Rome was in trouble and so they asked him to come back and run the place again. To this Diocletian supposedly told them: “If you could see the raštika* growing in my Palace garden, you wouldn’t be asking me this.”

That pretty much sums up how I feel when someone calls to ask when I’m coming back to Zagreb. Without the part where anyone there needs me to run the place, though :D

The view of raštika from my Palace in Selca:

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As mentioned before, the credit for anything growing in our garden goes to my amazing Aunt Nada.

*raštika is collard greens in English. More on this yummy plant in this post: Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika).

Hang me out to dry. Gladly.

Reason #131: life on Brač is a real-life laundry detergent commercial

The sun is shining, the air is clean, the wind is blowing… yes, washing your clothes here feels like you’re in a TV commercial for Ariel washing powder.

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Not all year round, of course. There are wet, cold Jugo days when you can hang your clothes out for days and they never dry. But there’s always another sunny day just around the corner if you wait it out.

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Some clothes were hurt during the making of this commercial.

Roses are red… and yellow and white and pink and…

Reason #129: grow a garden full of beautiful flowers

With this wonderful Mediterranean climate on Brač there’s lots of warm and sunny days all year round and that means anyone can grow just about any plants and flowers they want.

Disclaimer: my anything-but-green thumbs are not in any way responsible for this garden. Aunt Nada is the wizard behind this magic. I just get to wake up to it every morning. That’s a pretty rosy deal, as far as I’m concerned.

Nautical hibernation

Reason #125: some boats get to have a nap over the winter

Some on the beach, sunbathing their bottoms…

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Some smack in the middle of their owner’s olive grove. Why not.

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Not everyone takes their boat out for the winter, but most people do. It’s just easier that way and less maintenance. Plus, winter weather can be harsh and if your boat is not tied up properly a rough bout of Bura or Jugo can do serious damage.

Shopping center? What’s that?

Reason #123: there are no shopping centers on Brač

In an era of excessive consumerism and when family lifestyle in big cities often sadly centers around visits to shopping malls, it’s so refreshing to live in an area without any.

And to get to the nearest one in Split would take all day and two boat rides. Excellent!

Yes, I’m sure that many locals disagree with me and would love to have a shopping mall on the island, but fortunately enough Brač is too small of a market for investors to get any return of ka-ching. So, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see one. Phew!

Photo submitted in evidence of non-existence of shopping malls. I dare you to zoom in and find me one ;)

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Joking aside, if you do look closely, you’ll see a man building foundations for a very non-shoppingcentric structure there. 

Martin Kukučin – a doctor, an author, a Slovak and a Selčanin

 Reason #122: Slovakian author lived here and wrote about life on Brač in 1900

Martin Kukučin is a famous Slovakian author, medical doctor by profession, who lived in Selca 1894-1907 and wrote about the life and the people.

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His real name was Matej Bencur. He was born in 1860, in Jasenova, Slovakia. In 1893 he received his medical degree and his friend Marko Didolić, a Selčanin who owned a winery in Prague, talked him into moving to Brač. He moved to Selca in 1894 and became the local GP.

Dr. Bencur took care of all the inhabitants of Selca, Zaseoci, Povlja, Novo Selo and Sumartin. He was popular and well respected. “He tirelessly did the rounds, covering this large area on his donkey, his ‘terrain vehicle’. He not only treated the poor free of charge, but also helped them out by providing means to eat more healthily.” (Jerčić 1985:7)

He was proficient in the Selca dialect. This gave him insight into the customs and the daily lives of the locals.

The good doctor married a local gal, Perica Didolić who was 19 years his junior.

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This marriage solidified his ties with Selca. He was very well accepted and considered one of their own by the locals.

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The commemorative plaque on the Selca main square

Even though he published articles in Slovakian papers throughout his stay in Selca, the locals knew him as the good doctor and knew nothing of his literaly double-life. He didn’t brag, obviously.

His famous novel Dom v stráni (Dom u strani) depicts life in Selca at the turn of the century.

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And he’s immortalized on a special commemorative 10 Euro Slovak coin, which is pretty cool for a Selčanin ;)

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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.

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It follows the old road to Sumartin

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

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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.

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Photos courtesy of selca.hr

Sirnica… where’s the cheese?

Reason #111: tasty and sweet traditional Easter bread

sirnice2Photo by I. Cvitanić, via braconline.com.hr

Sirnica (or pinca, as it’s called in some parts of Croatia) is a traditional sweet bread made and eaten at Easter, marking the end of Lent.

As a kid I used to wonder where the cheese was, as the word sirnica contains the word sir=cheese in Croatian.

Sirnica is made with eggs, flower, milk, butter and sugar –  no cheese.

You can buy a decent sirnica at the baker’s or the suprermarket these days, but some people still like to make their own. In fact, they even compete for the best sirnica on Brač, each year on Easter Monday.

sirnice1Sirnice on display at the competition in Škrip. Photo by I. Cvitanić, via braconline.com.hr

This year Selca won first place. Yay!

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Photos by V. Radmilović, via braconline.com.hr

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Team Selca: Marina Jakšić, Ela Tonšić, Sandra and Marta Mančić… and, of course, their husbands ;)

More: sirnica/pinca on Wikipedia and photos at braconline.com.hr

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 selca.hr)

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

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: slobodnadalmacija.hr)

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

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UPDATE from this year’s festival in Vrlika:

Slobodna dalmacija article with photos

Žudije from Selca with their youngest member Niki :)

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Photos by Loreta Mošić. Thanks!

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

Don’t let the snails fool you

Reason#107: snails are not as cute and innocent as they would have you think

We’ve had a few April showers last few days and that means the snails will come out.

I always thought they looked funny and cute.

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But they are not as innocent as they appear. As a city girl until recently I was totally clueless, but now that I have my precious greens growing in the garden I know full well that snails are evil. Yes, evil. They feast on my beautiful greens and leave ugly holes in the leaves. Bad snails!

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:

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

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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Everyone joins in the procession to the cathedral.

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

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Special “palm branch” made by Marina Jakšić.

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

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Truck heaven

Reason #100: Brač is a great place for kids and grownups who love trucks

Because of the Brački stone industry and because there’s a lot of building and transporting going on, there’s also trucks galore.

Old, abandoned and rusting trucks:

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Active MAN-ly trucks:

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Red, blue, green and yellow trucks:

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And it wouldn’t be a Brački truck if it wasn’t loaded with Brač stone:

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Snow in Selca

Reason #83: if it snows, you don’t have to go to school

Spring is here and days are only going to get warmer from now on. I feel like paying a tribute to the winter of 2011/12 when it snowed for the first time in forever. Towns and villages in Dalmatia are so unused to snow that life was almost completely shut down because of it.

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As always, kids had most fun with it :)

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Photo sources: braconline and selca.hr

It’s not all fun & games, though. When it snows as bad as this time, many people get injured, there are power outages and related issues, old people in scattered villages get cut off and need assistance, there’s loss to the local economy, etc., etc.

Also, I should point out that in the highest parts of the island (alt. 700m) it snows every winter, but it’s very rare for snow to come down to sea level where most of the settlements are.

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 :)

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.

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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!!!

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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. 

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.

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Poster, announcing Krnovaj festivities.

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

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Ms. Lilly as the Raffle Ticket Master.

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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.

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“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).

Headed to Selca?

Reason #60: sheep as travel companions

Cycling or hiking around Brač you just never know who you’ll run into. In this case a single mom and her little lamb. So cute.

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SPOILER ALERT:  the little one doesn’t  know it yet, but it’s going to end up on a spit come springtime. Sorry if that’s too much for you. I did call “spoiler alert”, though. My conscience is clear.

Coin tossing game

Reason #52: it doesn’t take much to have fun

This game with the catchy title: Whose Coin Lands Closest to the Wall Wins has been played by many a Selca schoolkid.

The best thing about it is that you can play it just about anywhere.

All you need is two people, a wall and a bunch of coins.

You stand at an agreed distance from the wall, you each throw a coin of the same value towards the wall. The closest one to the wall (whether it bounces off or not) is the winner and takes the other one’s coin.

You play until one of you runs out of coins, until you get bored or until your parents yell at you to come home.

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The best place by far to play the WCLCTTWW game is the entrance to the Selca church. Especially when it’s raining outside and you have time to kill before the mass. 

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This is the proper distance to the wall…. I wonder what Adolf Schlauf up there thinks about the whole thing.

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Our coins landed and mine won. Yay!

Hvala, Galaksija! :)

Sunset over Selca

Reason #51: just sunset

Instructions for good living:

  1. Sit on your porch or balcony
  2. Be quiet
  3. Enjoy the view

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Sorry for the crappy camera.  It just doesn’t do this sunset justice.

Oh, well… you’ll just have to come and see it for yourselves ;)

Jesus Four Nails

Reason #18:  Jesus crucified by four nails

Continuing with the Jesus theme… What would you say to the question: How many nails are holding Jesus up on a cross? Me and everyone I’ve asked in Croatia have said ‘Three’. That’s the image we were used to, growing up, I guess. So this statue of Jesus in Selca has always been confusing to me. I was sure that the artist made a mistake.

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Then I found out about the ongoing debate about the Holy Nails and that there’s still no definite answer to the question, even by the Church – was Jesus hanging up by three of four nails. Four definitely seems slightly more comfortable, so I hope it was four.

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And this spot is called “By the cross” and in times before mobile phones and when we used to go on foot a lot it was used often as a meeting point on the way to the beach. So, one would say for example: “Wait for me by the cross and we’ll go together.”

Torcida Brač graffiti

Reason #16: football fans marking their territory

A professional football career is every little Croatian boy’s dream. The reality is that most of them grow up to be football supporters and graffiti becomes their main creative outlet.

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Photo by Anton Whittle

Some people are annoyed and consider it vandalism. Some see it as tradition and part of the folklore.

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Although guys play recreationally for their local teams, they will always support a national league team. In the South it’s Hajduk, Split and the supporters’ club is called Torcida.

Their subtle initials (TS) on the lighthouse in Sumartin:

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And you can enjoy their presence even at the beach ;)

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