Cities / Towns Visited: 58
Countries Visited: 16
Steps Taken Today: 18,799
Steps Taken Around the World: 2,044,415
We rose much earlier than desirable, but it was for a good cause; you see we had a boat to catch out to Korčula, one of the islands off of the Croatian coast, and the only morning boat that makes the trip leaves at 8am, meaning we had to get up almost before the sun to make sure we had enough time for the long walk to the docks and to purchase tickets. Now for all the negative things I have to say about getting up early, it’s one redeeming feature, besides being cooler, is that you can actually snap tourist free photos before anyone is awake, or the cruise ships have docked. Thus figuring that we may as well make the most of a bad lot, we retraced a few spots from our Game of Thrones tour, like the shame steps, and managed to capture some much more agreeable pictures.
Eventually we arrived, with time to spare, and we purchased both today’s tickets, and those we would need for the other island day trip we would be making in two days; and in doing so saving ourselves as extra half hour of sleep on the upcoming morning. Sleepily we trudged onto the ferry, and off we went. Choppy seas made the trip most uncomfortable and left us both feeling rather seasick by the time we alighted on the island, two and a half hours later.
Despite the nausea and sleep deprivation, we were determined not to have our day ruined by such trivialities, and as such, wandered off through the gate of the old stone walls and into yet another enclosed medieval city. Meandering casually through the clogged arteries which are their narrow streets, we passed an unnecessary amount of churches; it was almost as if there was one for each block. Each was small and sparsely furnished, but they all still sung of a time when every soul on that island would have gathered for prayer like clockwork. One even had a collection of old but stunningly carved wooden statues of saints.
Feeling a little peckish, after the seasickness had subsided, we ducked into a little restaurant and ordered a couple of local dishes; a char-grilled pork skewer, and a braised beef dish with potato dumplings. As we quietly ate, it was hard to ignore the loud, and somewhat pretentious, conversation of the obviously privileged Australian family all on holiday together. It was almost laughable to hear the older couple complaining about how hard it will be for them to buy their third house given the rising house prices. There is an entire generation of young Australians having to face the real possibility that they either won’t be able to own a house anywhere near the major cities like Sydney or Melbourne (which is kind of important if you don’t have a job that translates to work in the country, or you simply don’t desire to live in the country away from your family and friends or commute hours to work), or they will have to chose between owning a house or starting a family as the ability to afford both is becoming nigh on unachievable. It’s hard to feel sorry for a group of people who already own multiple houses and are holidaying on the other side of the globe, when there are plenty of people struggling just to pay rent.
With our stomachs full, and our eyes thoroughly rolled, we trotted back downstairs. Ducking in to see if it was worth visiting any of the Marco Polo associated attractions. You see, thanks to the wonders of almost zero bookkeeping of the olden days, the exact place of birth of the famous Explorer is somewhat up for debate, and one place claiming it is Korčula. His parents owned a house on the island sometime around the years of his birth, and thus it is possible that he was born here, although it is unlikely to ever be proven. Deciding that it probably wasn’t worth paying to see an almost empty house which may or may not have briefly had Marco Polo within its walls during his infancy, we marched off to the shoreline. Grabbing an ice cream on the way, we plonked ourselves down in the shade to enjoy the picturesque scene of the comings and goings of boats, until ours arrived to ferry us home once more.
After a much smoother ferry ride back, and a rather arduous walk home (much of which was uphill in the early evening heat), we spent the evening relaxing in the cool of our apartment. As I reviewed our day, I pondered; how important is our place of origin really? Where we are born and raised influences many factors which will dictate much about how we live our lives; from our education (including both what we learn, and whether or not we will be able to get one at all), to our religion (and whether we are free to opt out of it); from how tolerant we are of others (especially in regards to race, gender, sexuality, and disability), to the privileges and opportunities we will have access to. It would seem that in the grander scheme of things nurture has much more sway than nature when it comes to who we are, and yet it is a factor we often have very little choice over, and none at all in our young formative years. In looking at this, is begs further questions. Would Marco Polo have been a prominent seafaring explorer had he been born in a landlocked state? Would Nelson Mandela have been a blinding force in the fight for black rights and the end of the apartheid had we been born in a more tolerant nation? Would Donald Trump have been a ruthless businessman and generally abominable human being had he been born in a 3rd world country? The answer to these questions is, of course, probably not. Our lives and the things we go on to achieve are dictated very rarely by some genetic predisposition or talent, but more often than not because of chance of circumstance, we are the right people at the right time, or the wrong people at the wrong time (if you’re Hitler or any number of despicable individuals). That’s not to say that we can’t break free from these factors in later life, but by then much of the damage or creation from this has been done. Our futures are helped or hindered simply by where we fall on a map. So what is my point? That if you can count yourself lucky enough to have popped out in a country with a much lower difficulty level, it is your responsibility to aid those who were not, or at the very least offer them whatever shreds of empathy you have in your moral fabric. Maybe then these victims of circumstance can rise above the constraints of longitude and latitude and achieve things greater than any of us ever expected.