Monday, May 29, 2006

Croatian Chronicles: Arrival

Our first sight once we got off the plane and into the airport.

A funny thing is that no one actually uses the term "zracna luka" in conversation. They've always called an airport "aerodrom," but during the war an effort was made to "clean up" the language, so that words that were shared with the Serbian people were done away with, and more Croatian words encouraged. I remember when we lived there, they had a TV show each evening introducing these words and explaining how they had deeper roots in Croatian history, how they fit into the lexicon, etc. I remember people thinking it was kind of silly, although some changes really did take hold, and I have to remind myself when I'm there that certain things I learned while there are no longer said that way.

Still, no one says "zracna luka." Almost a decade and a half later, they still say "aerodrom."

If you don't know, "Hrvatska" is Croatian for "Croatia." Pronounced HER-vaht-skah (that 1st syllable as in his and her, with a shorter "r" sound).

It may seem like a stretch, but my theory is that the Italians, who at times owned parts of Croatia, simply could not pronounce "Hrvatska." Their own language is so musical and so phonetically simple, the sight of so many consonants probably blocks something in their brain so that they can't even hear it correctly! Most Italians don't even have the "h" sound in their repertoire, and they never have an "r" without a consonant following it to complete the syllable.

So when you hear "Croazia," the Italian name, pronounced (cro-AH-tsee-ah), you can imagine that it was their best effort to imitate the sound of a Croatian saying "Hrvatska." And then of course we Americans make it "Croatia" fit our own language, and all resemblance to the original is lost.

And that may be more than you wanted to know about the name of Croatia, but since it was on the sign, now you have it, and you can be one of the few cognoscenti.

Our friend Heso picked up us at the airport. As you can see, he is even taller than my better half, so it was easy to find him in the crowd.

I love the Zagreb airport because it is surrounded by trees and grass and flowers. Not like most airports.

The drive from Zagreb to Cakovec was made better by the fact that there is now a highway that goes all the way. The old road is lovely for viewing, but winds and curves through the hills so much that I nearly always got sick when driving in hot weather. I had to ask Heso to slow down at times, but we made it home in less than two hours.

As you might imagine, 16 hours after leaving our Memphis home, with no sleep (our seat was right in front of the jet engine, something we will try to avoid in the future!), we were glad to see our Cakovec home and especially to get into bed that night.

This bed was a wedding gift from a friend who, back in the old days, had it made by hand for about $100. Those old days are no more, as the economy has completely changed since the war ended and capitalism came in. Though times have changed, the bed is just as beautiful and comfortable as before, and we were thankful to be in it.

Coming up: our home in Cakovec, trip to Zadar, the town of Cakovec, friends and family, and more!

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