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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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.

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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

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

Palm trees

Reason #91: palm trees create a nice tropical vacation feel

These palm trees in Sumartin are getting a trim in the spring, so they can be all nice and fresh for the tourists in the summer.

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They have to look pretty for when they pose with the Sumartin church, of course.

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And over in Supetar I found a house where you can buy baby palm trees. Or, so the sign says.

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Alo, Alo?

Reason #86: odd stuff like old phone booths

Maybe it’s just me, but I find an old phone booth like this one so odd these days. Like it belongs in a museum already. Who is even using it?

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Does it still work? I guess. I would have to buy a special card to really check and then who would I spend it on? I don’t know anyone’s number by heart. Now that’s pretty sad.

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Iz Amerik

Reason #79: a trunk full of Brač immigration history

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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.

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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 :)

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Trunk photo op thanks to Doris :)

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

Fresh off the boat

Reason #48: sometimes you can buy fish straight off the boat

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On the one hand, you can’t count on a regular supply of fish like in the big city, and there aren’t even proper fish markets, except in Supetar.

But on the other, it’s pretty cool that you can just come down to the pier early in the morning and see if there’s any.

It’s always sold fresh. Especially in a small place where there’s not many tourists. The locals can’t be fooled easily ;)

A tip for a newcomer like me is to observe older, wise-looking locals, see if there’s any fish that they frown at, and go for the ones they go for.