Imotski. A town made of stone standing on a hill, a genuine Mediterranean little town cast from the coasts of azure Croatian sea behind Biokovo. Its architecture, stone artefacts, people’s temper and finally, beautiful women and good wine, surely justify all the attributes.
Proudly elevated on a hilltop Podi above Imotski field, visible to the majority of residents in Imotski Region. In words of evangelist Matthew “one cannot hide a burning candle, the same as a city set on a hill cannot be hidden”, so it was and so it is. Imotski is a white swan made of stone with two gorgeous eyes – Blue and Red Lake. And eyes, it is said, are the mirror of the soul.
It is ungrateful for a person from Imotski to write about Imotski, one can never be objective, typically for everyone who loves his hometown and homeland. But here we would like to tell you a few words more about the underway trend experienced by all little friendly places of Dalamatian hinterland. It is about population decline, losing of the old habits, letting the oblivion take away the most precious – communication between people, socializing. A man is a social being, he cannot live without other people, family, friends. But now, even if there are few, their life is rotten.
Imotski of yesterday, fifty years ago, and Imotski today are two completely different worlds. Like heaven and earth. Fifty years ago, all schools in Imotski, grammar school, crafts school, elementary school, all nearby elementary schools in villages of Imotski Region, were full of children. So called students-walkers walked each day but Sunday, more than thirty kilometers in sun, rain, cold just to get to school. A great number of those children was hungry, wet and barefoot. But, they studied and knew they couldn’t be latte for class. After classes they would hang out, sing, play, and than “hit the road” into a dead night in order to get to their homes as sooner as possible.
Today, eleven elementary schools have shut down in villages of Imotski Region leaving stone hearts of these schools to “grow” nothing but brambles and weed. Some elementary schools have merely two classes, first-class students being decreased each year. And now we come to the bottom of this story.
Wednesday, a bazaar day in Imotski, somewhere between the fifties and sixties of the past century. People pouring from Tomislavgrad to Ljubuški, from Makarska to Omiš. The ones from Bosnia bring cattle, cheese, milk, potatoes, dried meat. The ones from shore bring fish, olive oil, salt, trade is underway in all forms, buying, exchanging, selling. And all these lonely souls meet at Pazar, the main place in Imotski. Ten, fifteen thousand people, one can hardly tell the number. Everybody talks to everyone, shake hands, kiss, meet girls. Folk people sing traditional songs (ganga), play traditional games (šijavica – the game of morra in Italian), urban people in the soul of cobbled streets sing soto voce some old Dalmatian melody. Houses full of radiant faces, nobody knows who is with whom at lunch or where. As if that matters, you have friendly guests in your home, why bother asking why. And so, little bit of trade, many conversations, plenty of laughter, and lot of them poor. But rich in spirit. And when the night comes down, everyone returns to their home. And in Imotski impression from Wednesday reverberating through stories, retelling, walk to the Blue Lake. Evening. Two or three places echo with serenades of young men from Imotski, nightingales with distinct voices. Pjaca in Imotski is brought to life, the old Betun, Ispod volta, lookout lake. Coffee shops full of elderly people playing cards, chess, laughing. Imagine an abundance of laughter. And more worries than now, but once you share them with your friends and company, as if there aren’t any. They vanish. Children playing on Pjaca, running for iron wheel. Some couples lose in the darkness of serpentine roads leading to the Blue Lake. So to love and to be loved, give love. And love, what is more beautiful than love? Pjaca was also a training ground for the bold ones. And by their nicknames stood out among the others – Zeko (Bunny), Tigar (Tiger), Lija (Fox), Slon (Elephant), Šark (Shark), Udav (Python). A true zoo in the heart of Imotski. And these young men, little stronger than the rest, were in charge. They were obeyed, they were respected. Because, if you didn’t do that, you would get a sap on the head, a maximum punishment for disobediance.
And Wednesday today in Imotski. Empty streets, closed stores, one can’t even see two people talking. The market in Imotski, town’s belly, hungry for people. Evenings? Serenades have long became bygones, not a sound from three primo klapas, no walks the lake, no romance. It is all transferred to a couple of coffee shops or blurry cars. Those few young people sit on benches at the market in Imotski, each of them holding a mobile phone. And the worst of it all, nobody talks, no communication whatsoever.
And why should I write anymore, when everything can be said in a single sentence.
Once of a great value, now a recollection. Dear Terracon News’ readers, tell me please, which of these true stories do you prefer? Did the same thing happen where you live? Write to us. True, one cannot live from reminiscences, but the memories comfort your soul. And when the soul is at peace, even for a five minutes, it is an enormous gift.