26/09 Light at the end of the tunnel

We woke up this morning in our lovely little campsite by the shore. It has a little cafe at it’s end with a pier and beautiful views of the harbour and the ship repair dock just a few hundred metres away. As we sat enjoying a beer last night, we could see work going on there well into the dark hours.
The guy who owns camping Zlokovo makes me think of the man from del monte, he’s sauvely dressed, seems to flit between sipping beers at the bar and running the campsite and was chilling out having his breakfast in the sunshine before we left this morning. What a cool guy! And he does it all with a big smile on his face. Fair play to him. We’ve been at our fair share of campsites over the last few months where they just seem to be  big money mking operation. The one’s that we have stayed at where you are treated as a guest are a true breath of fresh air.
As we were packing, the wind that had been a breeze earlier started becoming quite gusty. The thought of battling the wind on top of the climb we both knew was ahead of us was not a comforting thought. But we gathered our courage and set out. We began by filling up on petrol and food supplies for the next few days. We knew it wasn’t likely we would be seing many shops for the next little while. Bags filled to the brim with all we would be needing, we set off.
Despite the busyness of the road, we were given plenty of space by everyone. The notable exceptions being Croatian tour buses which we were hoping we had escaped when we crossed the border. They continued to drive to close to us for comfort and when ever the chance arose, spewed out confused looking tourists to take the correct photos before ushering them back on the bus and ferrying them on to their next pre-approved photo opportunity.
As we rounded the corner to catch the first gimpse of our climb for the day, we both realised after a little scrutiny that there were quite a few very long looking tunnels on our route. We knew that we would have to get new batteries for our torches so that we would have at least some chance of navigating them safely. Fortunately we found a small shop selling triple-A’s, albeit at pretty exhorbitant prices. Then it was time to hit the hills. We knew the first few hundred metres of our climb we would have the wind behind us, but that was it. Our road stretched out ahead, kilometres and kilometres of tunnelly road with the wind in our faces. And so we began. The beginning of a hill is always the hardest part, your legs burn, you’re short of breath and you think you will never reach the insurmountable goal you have given yourself. But as you continue you get into a rythm, taking your time, enjoying the view as it changes around you. Our rythm was somewhat boken up by the rude interruption of all those tunnels we had spotted earlier. As suspected, there wasn’t as much as a candle lighting them up and so the head torches came out and we formulated a strategy: Pedal hell for leather, if a car came, we would pull ourselves as close to the edge of the tunnel walls and shine our torches so that they wouldn’t run over us.  All in all, we cycled through 7 tunnels today. Luckily none of them were longer than a few hundred metres. And as you’re reading this, we lived to tell the tale!
Throughout the day, the head wind never let up. It was constant and interspersed with the odd gust that was strong enough to stop us in our tracks. As we got higher and higher over the bay, to a peak of 900m, the view constantly changed, keeping our minds of the pesky breeze. As we came over the top the landscape changed suddenly and we found ourselves cycling across a plain in the mountains. Little houses were dotted here and there but there wasn’t much sign of life. Every so often, we passed a place name sign, but settlement was sparse and we saw barely a soul. At the end of the plain came climb number two. It hurt a lot more than the first one seemingly going on for ever with no break from the tough gradient. But finally we made it. A quick stop at the only petol station for a long, long way allowed us to grab a cold drink and a few beers for later.
We had had enough of cycling for the day and decided to find somewhere to camp as soon as possible. We pitched our tent a small way from the road in a field with what appears to be a very old, small reservoir but we’re really no sure what it migh be. It’s cold and damp here at the top, but that means no mosquitos. The little feckers ate me alive last night, I feel like I’ve been deal a terrific mauling! Here, far from the touristy coast, we enjoyed a delicious meal of hot and spicy soup with veg, eggs and noodles under the beautiful night sky. Just before hitting the hay, we boh saw a shooting star. I dunno what Sam wished for, but my wish is that the asshole headwind packs up and leaves before tomorrow…..

 

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