Saturday, August 30, 2008

I was thinking about my swimming adventures and decided to make a list of all the major bodies of water I have SWAM in ... not just visited and saw with my eyes and dipped a tow or finger in, but actually was fully emerged in. This is what I came up with:

Oceans and Seas I Have Swam In


Bethany Johnson

Pacific Ocean
(California, Hawaii)

Atlantic Ocean
(North Carolina, Delaware)

Sea of Cortez
(Cabo San Lucas)

(Mexico and the Islands)

The North Sea
(off the Coast of Belgium)

Adriatic Sea
(the Dalmatian Coast)

Ligurian Sea
(Cinque Terra,
Part of the Mediterranean Sea)

I think that is it ... perhaps I left something out?

Friday, August 29, 2008

futuristic boats and and nameless eels (CROATIA TRAVEL LOG)

The historic island/city of Trogir (a UNESCO world heritage site, by-the-way) sits between the mainland and another larger island and is linked by foot and car bridges. You can read the history of the intact medieval city here. As a result the "Riva" or waterfront is the "it" place to park your HUGE yacht. Some of these boats looked like they were capable of not only sea voyages, but underwater and space travel as well ... these are boats of the future ... unfortunately the biggest ones were foreigners and not Croatians.

On an island, the name of which I cannot remember, where less than 100 people lived and only the small harbor had electricity, we romped around some long forgotten limestone houses and communities. We were lucky enough to have our own private boat and captain waiting for us to hike the few miles up to it, especially since there was only two ferry stops a day - 9 am and 12 noon. The island is so small that it doesn't even have a school, it shut down a few years ago since only one child lived here ... how strange is that. He ended up going to live with grandparents on the mainland. Something about that makes me a little creeped out ... not that I normally think about schools of the number of children that live in a town or neighborhood ... but doesn't that just seem kind of ... final. It makes a place feel even older. In the harbor area, the only place with electricity on the island, there is a really old church (of course) still standing with its fake facade (picture above) that started out as the real facade until they realized they couldn't afford to build such a big building. It now has a bit of a courtyard and I really really like it.

Another really cool thing about historical Dalmatian is the water catchment systems they set up. Oh, P.S. the coast of Croatia is called the Dalmatian Coast architecture and town plans, according to wikipedia: "Dalmatia is a region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, situated mostly in modern Croatia [... and] signified not only a geographical unit, but it was an entity based on common culture and settlement types, a common narrow eastern Adriatic coastal belt..." The climate is Mediterranean ... so its like southern California ... a bit arid at times and so they try to catch all the fresh water they can. These huge limestone (historically) and concrete (more recently) slabs lay in sloping expanses, in essence funneling the water into storage cisterns or wells. The water is channeled (above) into the well through a gravel and sand filter (below).

This particular well (below) located in an abandoned village on the coast was recently quality tested by the regional government and rated as having some of the purest water in the area! The owner, who heard through the grapevine (or at the local cafe) that American students were interested in documenting their little town, randomly meet up with us at the village and wanted to show off his well. His son, who now lives in Sweden was visiting and was kind enough to translate for us (another example of people speaking multiple languages ... Croatian, Swedish, and English ... sigh). He said that there was an eel living in the well and that is why it was so clean! I about died ... and then he said that the eel was 45 years old! I said ... wait ... how do you know he is that old and how do you know he is still alive (i was shocked and thus not thinking clearly that they put him in there that long ago and that he would float to the top and the water would start tasting bad if he were dead ... all good points). Then I asked if he had a name ... because hey at 45 ... he is part of the family! They roared with laughter and the son had to ask his dad to make sure he did not have a name (i thought that was funny). They said no and then I proceeded to ask if I could name it ... to which I got the response ... "no, you cannot Christen our eel" ... ahhhh, good times!

(home of nameless eel)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Italia and Hrvatska

Why is it that people rarely call countries and cities by their native names?

For example ... we say Italy, not Italia ... Florence, not Firenze ... Rome, not Roma .... and Croatia, not Hrvatska .... WHY?! It makes no sense to me.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the trip to start:

an island on the Dalmatian Coast (in Croatia)

church in Sbenik, Croatia

self portrait ... laying down in Ancona, Italy

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Abby and Bethany ... I ate a whole fish! That is a big deal for me... I don't really like fish, FYI.

Duomo - Siena, Italy

Tim and Bethany on roof of Duomo in Milano, Italy

This is what I woke up to every morning in Canova, Italy ... I know it doesn't seem real.

My feet and my huge backpack that got me through it all.