Category Archives: contradictions

Dubrovnik, Gruz, and a view of Montenegro

The wonderful thing about travelling by bike is the pace; I notice so much more than if I am in a car….I’m barely off the little ferry from Zaton, arriving in Gruz port, where so much destruction took place in the early 1990’s, and I get my first puncture. Oh well, easily sorted. It gives me the opportunity to visit the market to buy a bit of fresh fruit. And then I bump into Dom!  

DOM - DUBROVNIK

He is standing near these interestingly shabby doors near the market, and I quiz him about the building I can just see through the door if I push it a little bit! ” Come in, and I’ll show you around “, Dom says as he pushes the door wide open, with authority.

ITALIANATE GARDEN 1 - DUBROVNIK

A big, delightfully overgrown garden, with semi-neglected vines, fig-trees, a vegetable patch, and shade from the midday sun lies behind the doors. And surrounded by the garden…a big house, a private chapel and beautifully mysterious, dark and half-revealed interiors, wooden panelled and furnished, of staircases, high ceilings, becomes the absorbing physical setting, for the next two hours, as Dom shows me round, making as he does so,  a valiant attempt to relate the history of the Balkans to me…..dating back to the 8th century…..

ITALIANATE GARDEN - DUBROVNIK

ITALIANATE GARDEN 1 - WATER

Italianate….is probably not the correct adjective, given the date of all this…and the fact that Italy didn’t exist as we know it until the nineteenth century, but that regional architectural influence is clear all down and up the Dalmatian coast.

Two hours later, I’m a little the wiser, and Dom certainly holds strong and informed views about the course of events over the previous centuries in the Balkans! Just then, as we begin to explore the possibility of letting ourselves into the building itself to explore it a little further, a man lets himself in through the garden gate. Its immediately very evident from the tiny amount of language exchanged between the two men, that I can comprehend, and the body language, that we are not welcome…and Dom’s evident authority as a tour guide suddenly evaporates, as we are summarily ushered out into the busy road. Its been a verdant haven, and an elementary lesson in Balkan politics.

Territories in former Yugoslavia as at 1995

1995 - former Yugoslavia territories

The situation is so dynamic in this part of the world; this is then….how is it now? What’s changed since this map….well, Kosovo and Makedonia are two examples…as I’ll discover as I head over into Republika Srpska, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece over the next month.

Looking south-east to Montenegro 

MONTENEGRO KEEP OUT.jpg

Look south to Montenegro

Standing high up and inland from the Old City of Dubrovnik, I can see for miles, into Montenegro, into the magical and mysterious Durmitor mountains, where I’ll be heading. This vantage point was the focus of a vicious armed conflict, and its obvious why.

View of Dubrovnik from The Homeland War Museum

DUB

And all the while, there is a constant reminder of the loss of life…

War Photo Ltd; exhibition. 600 coffins of victims of Srebenica massacre await burial; original photo by Tarik Samarah.

COFFINS

Well, I’m heading off now, and up and over the mountains to Republika Srpska.

CYCLIST

 

 

Advertisements

Wrap with aluminium foil

I was reminded of my visit to Kader Attia’s installation in Malaga last year, entitled ‘Ghost’, when I recently saw a photograph of migrants wrapped in emergency foil  ‘blankets ‘. Attia’s work was created to depict Muslim women at prayer.

However, I found the similarity of his work and this photograph striking; and this similarity was more about the overall scene as opposed to the precise message; gallery visitors walk past the installation, casually observing it,  rather like allowing the  ‘migrant crisis’ to be passed-by and not addressed in any significant way. 

Kader Attia's - ' Ghost '.

Kader Attia’s – ‘ Ghost ‘.

CnGNfDtWcAAqV3E.jpg-large

Final Reductions

Cemetry in San Andres, Tenerife

Cemetery in San Andres, Tenerife

I really enjoy visiting cemeteries in dry regions; this one reminds me of cemeteries I’ve visited in the Atacama desert in northern Chile, near San Pedro. I think I would feel happier being laid in dry ground than lying in a hole in Wales in the cold, wet peat. This cemetery is within a few metres of a beach which is a quite odd colour; given the fact that Tenerife is a volcanic eruption in the Atlantic Ocean. Black sand for a beach doesn’t quite do it for tourists apparently; maybe too hot in strong sun? So, a number of years ago, 4 million sacks of sand from Saharan Africa where imported and made into a fine, yellow, sandy beach, overlaying the black one. It looks a little incongruous. Fortunately, the sand in the cemetery remains the native black colour. Talking about incongruity, the advertising hoarding facing the lovely white-washed walls, the simple mausoleum, and the black or white simple crosses, is great. I wonder what other messages appear here throughout the year.

guardian angel

The close proximity of the graveyard to the power-station got me thinking!  The guardian angel looks over the landscape – keeps an eye on all our loved ones in the ground. And the inscrutable power-station looks back at the angel. There is at once a safe and secure feeling engendered here; and yet there’s possibly danger too. 

Port Talbot - January 2011