Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Horrible Thing About Zadar Croatia

This is an undeniably lovely place to live, if you can get your breath back after hearing the real estate prices. When my husband was born here 45 years ago, he says it was a town of about 20,000. Now the population is in the six figures and the town council reportedly has plans for at least a million, and to buy an acre of land far outside town and not near water costs about a million Euros....

We walk through town and my husband points out new giant apartment complexes and says, "That was an orchard before. That one was a vineyard. This was a factory." We sit on a park bench by the water, eating a lunch of cheese and apples. I say, "How many construction cranes can you count from here?" "Oh I dont know, at least ten."

I ask if all of this development bothers him as it did me when they coated the apple orchards of my childhood home with "executive" housing estates. No, he says, it is ok. He is just bemused, and rather proud. He himself has always known this was one of the finest places on earth, with the Adriatic coast and the mountains so close to each other. Now the rest of the world does too. No wonder everyone wants to live in Zadar.

Luckily, unlike what we hear about Montenegro where Russian cash is flowing down like a huge champagne fountain gushing into the sea and buildings are being built with very little urban planning (but lots of compensation), Zadars growth is managed fairly carefully. I met an American woman on the sidewalk near the famous Zadar sea organ and she said her homes planning permission took three years to work its way through city hall. So many new regulations to be considered and a pile up of plans all crashing together.

And the nicest thing about much of the growth is that it is for Summer people who tend to show up July-August and then vanish. So, you can always do what my in-laws do and get yourself an inexpensive little mountain cabin to visit when the Zadar crowds and heat are too bothersome.

So what, you ask, is the horrible thing about Zadar Croatia? The tomatoes.

The tomatoes in the greenmarket are simply dreadful. It is like being back in an American Supermarket. They are round and red and tasteless. Too firm, too transported, too mass market grown.

Why? I ask. My husband explains no one grows tomatoes for market here. The soil is too sandy and rocky. The water, sparse. Tomatoes are grown in the Croatian hinterlands and trucked in. Sombor Serbia, where we live, has been suffering in comparison to Zadar this past week. The sun, the sea, the clean brisk air, the positive outlook of natives... but now Sombor triumphs. Sombor tomatoes are heavenly. They truly deserve the name "paradise."

Do we have to choose just one place to live in former Yugoslavia? I ask my husband. I do not think I can stand to chose between Zadar sunlight and Sombor tomatoes. No, he says. We can live in both and move about like gypsies. I laugh. That suits me just fine. Now all I have to do is start growing bucketloads of cilantro and my life here will be complete.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree on cilantro. I love it and use it too. I have no idea why it is non existant in Serbia...Celery too...Since this is an old post ,let me know if you have planted them ...Maybe I can get some seeds from you.