5. FLOOD OF THE SMALL ADRIATIC ISLANDS
comprehend an island, visit it in winter. Then, when the cold
north-eastern wind, Bora, starts whirling and spinning the
sea, and when experienced captains of the inland naval fleet
drag their ships deep into other islands' lee side in order
to reach their destinations - and still arrive behind time.
Winter islands - do they actually exist?
Vladimir Skracic, Ph.D., senior lecturer at the University
of Philosophy in Zadar, maintains that Croatians think of
their islands like postcards. As a panorama, shot from a plane.
A red sunset over the archipelago. Golden beach, golden port,
golden rocks, sunny bay; paradise on earth, sunshades, luxury
yacht boats. In the lee, someone 'repairs his fishnet'. Air
is pervaded by the smell of a fish-grill. From the balcony,
a view of the pristine sea. 'Folk serenade under the balustrade'.
This is - a postcard island.
On the actual island everything is different. Sunset becomes
an ordinary, sad reality. Nobody repairs his fishnet or fish-trap.
There are no fish, unless it awaits the summer consumer in
the deep freeze. On the waterfront, a few old men. It is cold.
It is cold even inside the small kitchen. On the table, a
little bit of fish stew that is left over from lunch, and
piece of yesterday's bread. Gas didn't arrive from the city.
Tonight we will not go outside to catch calamari. The church
bell chimes, announcing Ave Maria. There's a weather forecast
and then - to bed. We are on the island.
What is a Croatian island? It is a thing that is inadequately
connected to the land, a place which is hard to reach and
where life is lonely and difficult, poor education and of
bad quality, where people die in isolation with no health
care and security. The Croatian island is a place where everything
is a problem: meat, bread, gas and fuel, repairing the fridge
or television. It is a place where vineyards disappeared,
where olive groves are abandoned, dilapidated houses, unpainted
window shutters and fences, field paths in need of a haircut,
the pier caved in. The island is also a place where elementary
school buildings are transformed into warehouses or stores,
and Culture Halls into local public houses. It is a place
where ordinary things such as a haircut, a physician's examination
or getting a cadastre's attestation are classified as extraordinary
With regard to the schooling on the islands, Croatia is a
world phenomena, says professor Skracic. From 45 inhabited
islands, as many as 31 come into the class of small islands.
Upon these small islands there are 36 active schools with
a total of 240 pupils, which in average is less than 7 pupils
per school. The number of pupils will continue to decrease.