It’s 2pm and we have been drinking Rakija for a few hours now. Alejandro serves up a huge pot of pumpkin stew with chicken – chicken they had slaughtered with their bare hands the day before. I take a bite of the kampong chicken and immediately ate three more spoonfuls. When the bowl was done I ate another one. It was just SO GUD. He had added some barley in there too so they combination of all the flavours and textures just WORKED.
Petra used to be a professional horse jockey, but according to her wasn’t a great one since she was very tall. I’m sure she was just being humble. After retiring, she brought her horses along with her and started a farm with her husband. They have 24 acres of land, 6 horses, 4 dogs, 3 cats and big hearts.
We came to the farm to visit chloe, my sweet friend from New York who arrived in Croatia around the same time as me. We had met in a hostel and spent some time together, forming a bond that led us to meet again and again over the next few weeks. She has been doing a workaway at this farm, and I was happy to find her in her element, working with animals, being in nature, and finding many opportunities to reflect and be with her thoughts.
Petra isn’t much more older than chloe and I, she’s 34, once divorced and a bad ass boss lady. In Croatia, people are still rather sexist and she ignored social norms and did things her way. She and her husband have worked hard to build their farm, and are still in the process of finishing a building with a swimming pool. They build everything on their own. Brick by brick, pebble by pebble.
Another workawayer, Alejandro, was a real treat to meet. Although only 24, he has travelled around for 7 years and left Colombia at just 17 years old after high school. My mum asked him “why did you want to leave?” and he replied “I just wanted to, I knew I didn’t want to stay.” I thought about the 17 year olds of now, or the 17 year olds of then – were we so sure of things? Being so sure of something, sure is great! He’s been working everywhere in the world and doesn’t plan to stop. Of course, many Latinos travel because going home isn’t a better option. Unemployment rate is high, governments are more corrupt, social unrest is higher. That is why, I feel that there are even less excuses for singaporeans to go out there and slow travel. What’s the worst that could happen?
Of course after Rakija, you start to use a spoon as a mic. Of course….. (Rakija is a home made liquor made from natural sweetness from fruits. Pears, grapes, cherries etc) it’s distilled for a few weeks or months and the percentage of alcohol is quite high! About 30+ percent.
We started sharing music, and mama put on a Chinese song and belted it out. Alejandro completely immersed himself into it, and jived along with her, while taking a video to commemorate the moment. I took pride in searing this precious memory into my mind. My mummy is experiencing what I have been enjoying for the entire year. She’s meeting a stranger, younger than her youngest child, and singing karaoke together like they’ve been forever friends.
The fact that my parents were dancing the night away with my friends was such a fantastic experience. I wasn’t surprised of course, my parents have always been fun loving people. But seeing Petra, Chloe and Alejandro have so much fun with them, made me extremely proud to be their daughter. I have such cool parents!!
The great thing is how curious my parents were about all 3 of them. They asked questions, good ones! They made the effort to get to know my friends, go beyond the surface to get to really know them. They showed care and love to them as I would. And that’s when I realized, that who I am is greatly influenced by who my parents are.
After a whole afternoon of drinking, our friends kindly invited us to stay the night. We cooked chicken masala for them and slept on mattresses in the attic. We also bought Petra a whole tub of ice cream which she almost finished. The next day, they brought us to their neighbour Goran’s place, where he’s also building his own place and a few glamping tents for tourists.
From Goran’s place, we started a short walk to visit a cave. I love caves so I was really excited!!!!
Mummy was pretty scared at first, because she didn’t like how dark the cave would be. So I told her to “find your fear and do it anyway!”
I’m really glad I decided to show what slow traveling is to dad and mum. From the start I told them I wouldn’t make plans past 2 or 3 nights, that I wanted them to experience how not planning makes room for spontaneity. Because we had no plans at all, we could accept the invitation to stay. Because of that, we were able to exchange recipes with our friends, and gift them our spices. They also made time to bring us to the cave to show us what we wouldn’t have found without them.
Not planning is pretty hard to do at first. But once you get hooked on it, you pretty much never turn back. Letting go of trying to control the future helps us be in the present. I couldn’t explain this to my parents but I’m glad I could show them. Life unfolded, and we received what life gifted us – 36 hours of being in a ranch with 3 amazing hosts and their precious animals.
Till next story – ciao ciao!