Doing Nothing Under the Adriatic Sun
MIR’s Private Journeys Specialist Lisa Peterson loves the Balkans and considers these countries her second home. But when she’s in Seattle where the sun (sometimes) shines, Lisa sometimes remembers a malady that hits her hard, especially under the Adriatic sun.
Lisa Peterson has to learn Croatian R&R, since she’s always so busy in MIR’s Seattle office
Photo credit: Lisa Peterson
It first hit me when I was a student studying Croatian in Dubrovnik, but it hits me every time I return there. What I remember back then…
I’ve been in Dubrovnik, Croatia for a little more than a week and I am starting to feel very guilty. I have slipped into a dangerous daily pattern and I can’t seem to get out of it.
DoingIn the morning I start out with a list of things to do that day. Maybe it is a selection of places to see, maybe it is going to the bank, maybe it is going out to a shopping center to get some necessities, or maybe it is as simple as trying to find the mythical laundromat that people mention (despite the fact that no one seems to know where it is located). But first I have to find a free table at one of the cafes and have my first coffee of the day.
This is where the first symptoms of the condition start to appear.
Another busy day of doing nothing, just hanging out by the sea in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher
Doing NothingAs I wait for my mandatory coffee to arrive, I start to get a little too comfortable in the shade. The coffee arrives and I slowly drink it. It is weird because the cup starts to feel heavier and heavier with each sip. I realize an hour has passed. Then a friend walks by and comes over to say hi. I invite them to sit. They sit and they spread out the newspaper as we wait for another coffee to come. Another hour creeps by and I haven’t moved. I notice that the men at the table next to me haven’t either. Everyone watches the masses of tourists from the cruise ships walk by on their three-hour tour of the city. We sip our coffee and complain about the crowds.
Then another friend joins the table.
In the discipline of doing nothing, people-watching is a time-wasting pleasure
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta
In practicing the Adriatic art of fjaka, it’s fun watching others walk along the ancient walls of Dubrovnik
Photo credit: Paul Schwartz
Should we go do something, like go for ice cream? The consensus is always yes, but we have to wait to finish our coffee. Everyone gets a bit more stuck to the chair. The sun is very high at this moment and I realize that it has been about four hours since I came to have a “quick” cup of coffee to start the day and all I have accomplished is drinking two cups of coffee, glancing through the newspaper, and getting caught up on the gossip from the night before.
Doing Nothing: FjakaThis behavior becomes a condition that repeats itself daily. Then one day a friend who owns a local restaurant walks by and comes over to say hello. He quickly assesses the situation and says, “Ahh… This is fjaka.” Everyone at the table is a Croatian language student. We all look at each other to see if anyone knows what the word means. None of us has ever heard of it. He explains that fjaka happens when it is very hot, and you can’t do anything. The sun must be very heavy and hot, no breeze can be present. You drink coffee for hours and it never cools because it is sooo hot outside.
Swimming sounds fun, but too much work: in practicing fjaka it’s best just to watch
Photo credit: Lisa Peterson
We all agree. Ahh… fjaka.
I understand and am happy because I realize that at least I learned a new word today. And… I put it to good use.
Practicing feline fjaka under the Adriatic sun in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Photo credit: Laneya McCullough
Travel to Croatia with MIRExperience Croatia on MIR’s small group tour, Balkan Odyssey: Crossroads of Cultures, or on a custom, private tour to the Balkans. Regardless of how you travel with MIR, don’t forget to practice a little fjaka under the Adriatric sun!
(Top photo credit: Lisa Peterson – Wide shot of Dubrovnik’s old town in Croatia)
PUBLISHED: August 7, 2014