Juri of Split

After getting our room in Split, we were introduced to our room owner’s son, Juri. He first told us his name, but said it was okay if we called him “George or John, or something simple like that.” Naturally, we were fine calling him by his given name. He was a funny guy. No doubt, based upon his age, he fought in the civil war, but the only sign that it had torn him up was that he had moved for some time to live in Paris.
This is the part of Juri that is the best, since he didn’t like Paris and returned to his homeland, which he loved. Oh, how he loved his homeland.
Every city was beautiful.
“Zagreb is beautiful, a true cosmopolitan town. Much better than Paris.” “Split… Split is beautiful. We have the Diocletian’s Palace here and the water. What more could you want?” “Ah… Dubrovnik. There is nothing like it. You can travel the world and maybe you have, but you will not find anything such as that city.” “Rijeka? Well, that’s next o Opatija, which is beautiful and Volosko, which is heavenly. You can’t ask for better towns on the Riviera.”
Every island was magical.
“Hvar. Oh, how I love Hvar. The lavender in Spring is amazing. It will make you cry.” “Korcula can simply not be measured. There are no words that can contain that town.” You must visit this one. You must visit that one. You must see them all.”
No matter what scrap or speck of Croatia you could talk about, it didn’t matter, he loved ever part of it. It was he and he was it. Of course, this was really no help when trying to figure out what area to go to next, since apparently the entire country was a masterpiece of a painting wherein you could find no flaw or unfinished surface.
Of course, that isn’t the case and some parts are better than others, as is the case with anywhere. If you stare at something long enough, or look at it from a different angle, you can find something you don’t like. I don’t doubt that Juri could find his flaws with his country and I don’t doubt that he has problems with how it is run, but the beauty of his sincerity was the fact that he was in love with an evolving thing, which was changing and enveloping everyone around him into it. To Juri, Croatia wasn’t just a place on the map, it was a country that had recently bled, giving birth to something new.
Luckily, we hadn’t seen much of the country at that point, enabling us to agree with him on any point, simply out of blissful ignorance. And we weren’t about to contradict Juri on anything he had said, since he was much, much bigger than us and his family was giving us a good price on the room.