Lady of the Rocks
It is hard to believe that it has been a year now that we have lived in Montenegro. My initial culture shock has been transformed into a new way of life. The last few months have been filled with bright sunshine, hot sun, glistening waters full of people and boats of all shapes and sizes. The coastline of this mountainous country completely transforms itself in the summer season making it even more stunning that I can describe.
The extremes of those early days from September of last year are now less sharp then they were in those first few months. We have moved from ancient Kotor to our modern apartment in Porto Montenegro and grown accustomed to the differences between this seaside living and our previous seaside home of Vancouver.
Traffic still baffles me. They love to pass each other here at high speed, even in the most precarious of driving situations. A year in Montenegro has made me a very defensive driver. Of course, it has also made me appreciate so many more things from the kind people, to their simple foods and proud personalities.
Pieter has had to leave his Kotor cats behind him since we moved into the residences at Teuta. Somehow in Tivat there seem to be less stray animals around. Dogs asleep in the middle of busy intersections are still common though. Nobody seems to mind.
We are about to embark on our second year of this life changing experience. It should be an interesting ride. We have much more to do in the next 12 months!
Summer has arrived. Most days now are around 30 degrees. So we decided to put some large pots with plants outside our front door, as the door quite literally opens on to the narrow street that separates our house from the sea. Those extra 30 centimetres somehow add a modicum of assurance that the little cars and bigger trucks whizzing by won’t run you down as you step out for the day. We also placed some planters in the driveway and filled them with fresh summer herbs.
Nobody expected that a truck would smash into one of the pots within a day of having placed them outside our door for “protection” from just that kind of (fast and distracted) driver.
The pleasant surprise was that the young driver came back to the scene to claim responsibility. In such a tight knit community, there is virtually no crime, and this was not going to be a random act of negligence. All the neighbours got involved in cleaning, fixing and solving. Within no time he had gone back to the garden supply store and replaced the large concrete pot which we thought was so invincible.
The second pleasant surprise was that we found some geraniums anonymously planted in the driveway planters the next day. Another reminder of the kind and modest nature of our neighbours.
Those are the names of just a few of our new “friends”. What does not lack here is an abundance of stray dogs and cats, some of which we have practically adopted. There does to appear to be anything resembling the SPCA here, or at least I have not seen them yet.
Kitten in Courtyard
From the number of animals around it looks like they don’t need a society for the protection of animals. This crowd is very much self protecting (mmm, maybe they resemble more their armed countrymen then I thought). Driving your car here becomes a challenge for the simple reason that you are not only having to be very attentive about other (fast) drivers, but you have to make sure you are not creating road kill on your way to and from the office. Dogs and cats are everywhere and they are quite accustomed to running around in packs and thinking they have the right of way!
Anyway, one day soon I will have to tell you about some of the facts about the natural beauty and history of this last amazing land. For the time being though, I can’t help but be intrigued by more pedestrian observations.
It looks like we are not the only one adopting animals. My colleague Max might even be taking one of these dogs home. She hangs out at one of the security gates to our marina, but wont for much longer. She looks like a miniature version of Lassie, just a lot more scruffy. We decided to call her Two-More because she had a funny little growth on her forehead. Needless to say these sweet little street animals have not seen the vet lately.
So there you go. We are now feeding seven cats instead of just our (spoiled) two that we brought over from Canada. I just hope that they don’t figure out which house the food is coming from, otherwise the band of brothers will migrate from the garbage dumpsters by the parking lot to our front door!
I already have my next blog posting in mind, so you will hear from me soon. This past week we had a bank visit our offices and the before the meeting could get started the president had to go and make tea for one of her (male) staff members. She smiled when she got back to the conference room and said, “one of the benefits of having a woman for a boss”. What a different world. Behind that small gesture is a whole conversation about social practices that are still in place here.