I thoroughly enjoyed the Reading to Know bookclub’s February selection: Running Away to Home: Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters. This book brought back so many memories for me. In 1998, I traveled to Croatia for a two-week mission trip with my church and Campus Crusade.
We stayed in the town of Split (located on the shores of the Adriatic). While I didn’t experience the rural setting the author did, just being in Croatia was such a stark contrast to my middle Tennessee home, there was a bit of culture shock. To an our American expectations of friendliness and hospitality, the Croatians are curt and abrupt. I could relate to the author’s experiences with the Croatian mindset:
“You are on Croatian time now. Get used to standing in line. Get used to waiting. Do not hurry. Nothing is easy.” p. 42
“I felt as if I’d traveled from the First World to the Third World in a three-hour drive.” (Or, in my case, a 10-ish hour plane ride). p. 21
I was very excited to find an ice cold Diet Coke one day. It was seriously hot while I was over there. I admit the Croatians are tougher than I am because it was a hot, hot, HOT two weeks in July with no air conditioning.
This book was a reminder to me about the beauty of being a Croatian national. Their history has been troubled and bloody – “being Croatian meant getting used to other countries trying to steal your land – Austria, Serbia, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia.” p. 16. They are a proud nation. Proud of the beauty of their country and their ability to survive.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the author’s thoughts on the simplifying that she and her husband chose in this trip overseas, and the unity and closeness her family experienced during this time together from our American/modern distractions.
I realize that these are fairly fractured thoughts on this book, but I’m having trouble drawing it all together. (Carrie at Reading to Know has a great review here that I nodded and hmm-mmm-ed as I read it and seems to sum up the book better than I did). Suffice it to say, I did enjoy the book. I do recommend it if you are interested in reading about the Croatian people. I do recommend it if you are interested in travel-type books or what it would be like to immerse yourself in another culture for an extended period of time. There is some profanity in the book and liberal alcohol use which I obviously don’t recommend, but it is an accurate picture of the Croatian lifestyle and is what it is. To have glossed over that fact wouldn’t have shown the full picture.
I’m glad to have read this book and have a short trip through my memeories (and photos) of my time in Croatia over fourteen years ago. (I’m well aware of how much younger I look in the picture above!)
Linking up with the wrap-up post over at Reading to Know for this book. If you are interested in more details on the Reading to Know bookclub check out this post. Our March read is Pilgrim’s Progress if you are interested in participating.