After wondering whether I would feel the magic of Korčula, we decided to get in the car and explore the island. We had already wandered through Korčula’s Old Town, an old 14th and 15th century town with marble streets and old churches and red roofs and alleyway cafes. Now we went to discover the wild Korčula. The Korčula of my muz’s childhood. They had built an old stone house perched on the water’s edge a few miles outside town, and it was here that he spent his summers. We drove closer and closer to his home and closer to my vision of what Korčula was. His home had long ago been vandalized during the war and they were subsequently forced to sell it. It was a simple concrete structure with no electricity and a water tank fitted with live eels to keep it clean. A campground was located behind the house where campers from all around the world would come to set up a base from which to spend weeks windsurfing and swimming. As we approached the house, my muz suddenly pulled over on the side of the road, excitedly. “Do you smell it?” He asked. “The pine trees, the salt water, it’s just as it was!” He pointed to a hole in the brush and led me down a rocky nearly invisible path towards the water and it opened up onto a group of white boulders. We scampered down over the roots and brush and up onto the rocky ledge. “This is where I would jump from”, he said. “This is where it all happened.” This is where the magic of Korčula crept into his heart. This is where all the memories were. We were finally here.
We drove on towards his home and as we approached, we noticed a couple sunning themselves on the dock, the girl was topless. He excitedly pointed to the campgrounds and the olive trees, and told me all about the home. The home was under new ownership, they were building a modern addition and had added a real roof, new doors, and were clearly trying to make it a proper modern summer home. I was glad it wasn’t finished, because I could still see what it had looked like in his youth: primitive, yet lovely. We climbed up behind the house where we came upon a tiny stone dwelling made of hand carved stone. He told me about the man who worked here, this was his workshop, and he hand carved the stone from a quarry behind his stone house. He literally took dynamite and blasted the rock, then cut it, then chipped it, then carved it into perfect rectangular blocks which would be sold to be used as building materials in the town. He had made stone benches and tables on which my muz would sit as a boy, eating feasts of fresh fish with his family, guests of the stone mason on that hill. We descended back to the road, and he pointed out olive groves and blackberry bushes and pine trees, and the spot where the fig tree once grew in front of the home. It was just as I had imagined. It was beautiful.
We then drove around the island, visiting all the little fisherman’s towns, each more ancient and more removed than the last. We passed vineyards and graveyards, and abandoned stone houses with angry political graffiti staining them. We drove by a bent old lady working in a garden, a tired man carrying a wheel barrel, and tourists on red shiny bicycles. We visited one of the only sand beaches (as opposed to the classic pebbly beach) on the opposite side of the island, and stopped for a beer and a sunset view, and to let all the sights we had just seen sink into our memories. This was the Korčula I had hoped to see, and I loved it.