Monday, 24 January 2011

The islander of today

What is your idea of a typical islander? Are people who live on an island in any way different?
There is a stereotype of an islander that is most often connected to images of a fisherman, or a peculiar peasant with a beard and singing folk songs somewhere in the field surrounded by goats or seagulls, tired of hard life and solitude… Perhaps you will be disappointed to learn that this is hardly the description of a typical inhabitant of the island of Hvar.
Of course you will still be able to find a lot of fishermen on the island and most people living here are still very much connected to the sea in one way or another. But the image of an islander is not the one of a contemporary Robinson Crusoe, isolated from modern technology, and 'normal' social activities.
However, islands in Croatia are still in a way exotic oasis of untouched nature, peaceful and safe, magnificent and charming pieces of paradise, with hospitable locals welcoming guest from all over the world. This is in summer time, of course, when Croatian islands become hideaways for so many tourists from all parts of the globe.
However, many people wonder is there any life on the island when summer is over? How does the winter look like on the island and is there any life there after all?
A true island spirit awakes in winter time. Without much influence of the outside world, the island becomes a world for itself, distant and mysterious, quite yet romantic. Locals who live there all year round have mastered an art of living in harmony with nature and in peace with themselves and each other.
Winter on the island is a challenge for anyone not being used to it. Without stress, traffic, crowds and noise, there is a whole new dimension of life opening up in front of us and it is not always easy to confront it. Islanders have their winter rituals. Blessed with lots of sunny days, locals spend o a lot of time outside: working in the fields, fishing, or simply drinking coffee which is almost a sacred social ritual. The expression ‘pomalo’ which could be interpreted as ‘take it easy’, reflects the whole philosophy of living on the island.
Islanders cherish the benefits of the island life. They speak local dialect (slightly different in every single village and small town) and have great respect towards the rich cultural heritage and tradition. The way of living on the island today is a perfect mixture of traditional values and benefits of modern civilization.
Face to face human interaction, family, friendship and intimacy are values which may become old-fashioned these days, but not on this island. This is why so many people from all over the world in their quest for inner peace and happiness fell in love with Hvar, and some of them even decided to build a whole new life here.
Although ‘no man is an island’, there is an island in every one of us….the sole peace of ‘paradise’, reminding us of where home is and where we really belong to.

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