The next morning we packed up, left our friend’s father’s apartment and traipsed back to the bus station. B/f held my hand as we crossed the road because of the unpredictable traffic, even at crossings. Our friend’s father had told us to be careful of the cars because Croatians had only recently acquired cars en masse and they were poor drivers.
At a café outside the bus station, b/f ordered a coffee.
‘Would you like one too?’ he asked me.
I shook my head. ‘My tummy’s upset.’
‘Because I’m anxious.’
‘Missing the bus.’
‘We’re forty minutes early!’
‘I’m still anxious.’
B/f was unable to comprehend. I settled for a lemonade.
After half an hour we queued for our bus and found our seat, but there was a lengthy delay. From what we could gather, the bus was overbooked and the woman who couldn’t find her seat set up an almighty noise. The harried bus driver called the company on his phone. Eventually it turned out the woman was on the wrong bus. The passengers sighed and smirked as she bustled off.
Outside the city, there were yet more delays, and the traffic slowed to a crawl. We looked down at a car below us and saw the driver watching a video on his phone as he drove. We wondered aloud if there was an accident or if the traffic was bad because of school holidays. A woman overhead us and said there had been an accident. Then the bus stopped altogether and a man dashed off onto the grassy verge, took a lengthy leak, then bolted back into the bus. The woman who could speak English was becoming visibly agitated and harangued the bus driver. I watched the rocky landscape out the window and charted where we were going via Googlemaps. When we reached the car ferry, the passengers cheered. We loaded, climbed out and went onto the deck. The water was incredible. I noticed that the agitated woman had found a friend, and realised she had been wanting to meet her friend on the ferry and this was why she’d harassed the driver
B/f cracked open a beer and appeared to be enjoying himself and the scenery. I sat on a bench nearby & laughed everytime the nearby door to the cabin opened & fell off its hinges.
Finally we reached Veli Losinj, which my parents had recommended to us. We were very late and our AirBnB host was concerned, but I managed to text and find him. The AirBnB place was gorgeous; a little nook overlooking the square and the harbour. B/f & I had a lovely dinner by the water but belatedly realised we had been fleeced with tourist prices. Oh well, it was a gorgeous view and the harbour was so tranquil.
I was still working on my bloody book; I wanted to send it off so I could have a holiday. During my breaks, b/f and I swam and snorkeled (nothing to see but algae and a handful of silvery fish; the water was too degraded), sunbaked on the cement like the locals, drank coffee and wrote on postcards, bought wine and cheese from the supermarket and partook of it. Then we discovered that we needed to stay an extra day (such hard luck!) as the ferry didn’t run until the following day, so we moved into a hotel around the corner. B/f then lost the key while we were swimming. I was furious but diverted myself with my pal Inga Simpson’s new memoir, Understorey, a good read.
As we were negotiating to pay for a replacement key, the owner brought in the one we’d lost – some kind person had found it & placed it on the bar while we were out. My equilibrium was restored.
The next morning we caught a taxi to Mali Losinj and sat in another café watching the water, the lorries going up and down the harbor and sunburnt Europeans with big bellies on their yachts.
‘I don’t feel well,’ I said to b/f.
‘We’re an hour early. We couldn’t have got here any earlier, unless we camped.’
I laughed, and my nerves subsided.