The hour finally arrived when the long awaited ferry ride would take place. Despite yet another perspiration inducing death march beneath the blazing sun, this time along the waterfront to Split’s ferry terminal, I could barely disguise my excitement at finally getting an opportunity to spend five hours sailing southward along the Adriatic. The voyage would provide an opportunity to view some of the Dalmatian Coast’s most stunning scenery. An added inducement was that we would pull into several of Croatia’s most famous islands along the way. My excitement was as much a product of avoiding another long bus journey, as it was the opportunity to ride the waves southward in the shadow of towering mountains and jagged stretches of coastline. I had high hopes for what would be my first long ferry journey on the Adriatic.
Standing Ready – Half The Battle
What were the chances that a New Yorker and a Siberian would be the first in line for the ferry from Split to Dubrovnik? On this day, the chances were very good. Arriving at the appointed place to board the ferry, it was still half an hour before boarding was to begin and early enough to quell my anxiety. Either that or satisfy my impatience. I have an obsessive fear of being late for a scheduled departure whether it is on a bus, ferry, plane, or train. This means turning up well in advance and this mid-afternoon departure in Split was no different. If that meant standing on the concrete quayside beneath the broiling sun, then so be it.
A close friend of mine once told me that just by showing up you have already won half the battle. Whether in work, life, or travel, there is a great deal of truth in those wise words. Being an excessive obsessive who believes in the opposite of moderation, I have spent much of my life not only showing up, but also showing up early. I drag along those willing to share in this recurring madness. Anyone unlucky enough to be prone to habitual tardiness does not last long with me. I have to feed my addiction for early arrival. Like all addictions this one comes with a downside in the form of a waiting game that almost always ensues. On this occasion, the ferry was standing ready to take on passengers or so it seemed. I tried making my way onto the boat before being waved off by a couple of the personnel. I was not surprised.
Coming Together – The Gifted & Talented
There were also two other people who had arrived early. I felt a twinge of competitiveness when I saw that they had shown up earlier, beating me at my own game. This couple had their luggage in tow and was standing patiently while profuse amounts of perspiration poured off them. I assumed correctly that they were also making the journey to Dubrovnik. With nothing better to do, we struck up a conversation to distract us from the merciless heat. This conversation would continue for a large portion of the next five hours. I knew immediately by the man’s accent or the lack of one, that he was an American. Soon I learned that he had just married the woman who was standing patiently beside him. She was a dark haired Russian with a deeply penetrating look in her eye, a kind of preternatural seriousness, softened by a relaxed smile. She had a quiet way about her that was as endearing as it was disarming. Her silence spoke volumes. Even when she spoke, it was in such hushed tones – barely above a whisper – that it was hard to hear what she had to say. The couple had met years before and finally decided to wed in Croatia. I soon learned that they were newlyweds, it was the best of times and time was running out on their honeymoon.
The marriage had been a long time in the making. Both worked in academia and from what I could glean from our conversation, it sounded like they had met through an academic exchange program. Their kinetic intellects made them kindred spirits. They were destined for the best of both romantic worlds, connecting on both intellectual and emotional levels. They were in the throes of a love affair that transcended the barriers of space and time. The differences in the couple’s backgrounds were just as striking as the similarities in their intellects. The man had grown up in Queens, New York, traveling in and out of the city for his schooling after being accepted into various programs for gifted and talented students. He had used these talents to become an accomplished actor in various theatrical and film productions. Eventually he found his way into academia, publishing a book and gaining tenure.
Right On Time – A Universal Language
The woman had grown up in Chita, Russia, an obscure city that is about as deep inside Russia as someone can get and still be on the beaten path. Chita is only known to foreigners because it straddles the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is a quintessentially remote Russian city, one that most pass through and where few dare to stay, let alone get to know. When I told the woman that I had heard of Chita, she looked genuinely surprised and confused. It is not every day that a Siberian meets someone from the American South who is aware of their hometown. To get an idea of just how remote Chita is even by Russian standards, consider that it is three and a half times closer to Beijing than Moscow.
If not for my interest in the Trans-Siberian Railway I would have not known that it existed. I mentioned to the woman that my familiarity with Chita was the product of reading guidebooks to the famed railway line that put the city on a few foreigners’ mental map. Her academic background and life’s work involved linguistics. Her English was excellent, but it was only one of several languages she spoke. Of course, this couple spoke a universal language, one of love. It transcended borders and cultural barriers. The world was large enough to accommodate their relationship. And the coming journey by ferry would be the final voyage of their honeymoon, It sounds romantic, probably because it was.
Click here for: An Opportunity to Achieve Immortality – Split to Dubrovnik By Ferry (Travels On The Croatian Coast #57)