A year in Montenegro

A year in Montenegro

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!

Superyachts to Meandering Cows

Recently I went on a business trip to London. It was for the World Superyacht Awards at Guild Hall in the City. It had been a few months since I was in there and I enjoyed the busy, vibrant international capital. The heat wave made it exceptional. The evening was like the Academy Awards for yachts; red carpet, black tie, 500 attendees, and numerous categories from Best New Designer to Best Superyacht over 35 meters.

Predator on Jetty One

We all flew home on British Airways into Dubrovnik Airport. It was such a contrast to the Heathrow which seems to be a city unto itself. There were no tunnels, trains, moving walkways, busses and thousands of people coming and going to all ends of the earth. Just a landing strip and a simple modern terminal.

What as fantastic about landing in Dubrovnik this time was the fact that it felt like coming home. The temperature was in the mid 20s and after a short walk on the tarmac, you picked up your luggage and you were outside at the car. Everything was so simple.

What was a real “coming home” moment though was arriving at the border crossing between Montenegro and Croatia. There amongst the white police Land Rovers, customs guards and passing travellers was a big cow strolling through the activity as if she was perfectly undisturbed by the official nature of her surroundings.

To my list of road friendly dogs and cats I must now add cows. It Just like the first night I arrived here in Montenegro last August. The taxi driver was zipping through the mountain roads down to the coast and a cow standing in the middle of the road in the dark came into the headlights. It really did feel like I had come full circle with a cow at each end. I guess that culture shock can last less than a year… thus the change to the name of my blog.

As for my other furry friends around the house, you will be pleased to know that they are all well. Jessie had her babies and is now back to her road routine; completely ambivalent to the cars zooming past her. From the cat gang, Smoke had a baby and Pieter called her Soot, but we have not seen her around for a few days.

Our project is progress well. There are 500 workers on the site and the first homeowners take possession next month. Amazing how time flies. Last August there was barely a hole in the ground!

Lil-Fudge, Smoke, Tiger, Blotch and Two-More

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.