It occurred to me, just has it has many times in many similar circumstances, that I might be murdered as we climbed the old stone steps into the darkness. My new Croatian friend I had met that day excitedly told me that he was going to show me a spot that most tourists don't see.
We had talked for a few hours prior to this inside the stone walls of the old Dubrovnik town. He told me about his life and his dreams. I listened, and noticed, unsurprised but still curious, that those experiences were largely different than my own.
He told me about how boring his town becomes when tourist season ends. The sleepy folks hibernate and await a new onslaught of foreign travelers, many months away from reappearing. He explained the deeply ingrained desire for connection with other people that only feels fed when that onslaught begins anew.
These feelings and longings were familiar to me. Relatable, somehow.
That conversation was pleasant and interesting. And although I knew I would likely never see him again once the conversation ended, I was grateful that I could add this experience to the dozens like it over the years of connecting with strangers during the course of my physical and mental journeying. A journeying and connection that pulls me back down to the ground and reminds me that perspective is the key to satisfaction.
It was late by the time he suggested it. I was ready to head home. Kimberly and Tyler had turned in with the kids hours ago, exhausted from a long day of boating to outer islands and wandering the city. I could have turned in with them, and sure could have used the sleep, but instead I found myself keeping a commitment to meet and talk to a local in a tiny corner of a quiet pub buried deep in a stone alley at the heart of the old town fortress.
Time got away from us and before I knew it, it was midnight. I had a long trek up a steep hill ahead of me. A trek back to the apartment. And I thought it best to make that trek then.
But he was persistent and convincing in his suggestion that I follow him to a place unknown and less traveled. And I was easily convinced. It was unique to have the ear of a local in a small but highly tourist-trafficked town. And for some reason he seemed excited to show me that his city was more wonderful than I already knew.
He walked quickly up the stone steps, repeatedly telling me we were almost there. I saw active civilization grow farther and farther away. And I remembered the amount of times I had promised myself, after other similar experiences, that I wouldn't follow strangers in foreign countries into the dark unknown again, understanding that my luck for safety would surely wear out before too long.
But before actual anticipation could accompany my logical expectation of it, we turned a final corner and the image came into view.
There we stood, on top of an old hill upon which stone city walls had been built centuries earlier. At this high point on the hill, the wall vertically receded into an arch, making way for one of the most spectacular views I've ever known. Through the arch, the ground dropped off into a rocky cliff, hundreds of feet deep, landing in the dark and vast sea. Straight through the arch, high in the sky, glowed a full moon, and around it, brilliant stars.
We stood, staring.
This was worth the murder risk.
|Tyler needs to be awarded Father of the Year.
|Kimberly and Tyler by sea.
|A fun night with my new British friends who, as it turns out, do NOT like Downton Abbey.
|My back-seat mates on our drive to Montenegro today.
|Kimberly and Liv playing in the water.
|Where we swam with the locals in Kotar Montenegro.
|One Stranger, Donna, happened to be in Dubrovnik and spotted me the other day from a taxi. I hung out with her and her husband and friends tonight and now I want to be adopted into her family and they'll never get rid of me no matter how hard they try.
|Dubrovnik by night.
|Dubrovnik by night.
~It Just Gets Stranger