Story about MEDITERRANEAN

LIFE IN MEDITERRANEAN: ISLANDS AS NEIGHBOURHOODS

For decades islands in North Dalmatia worked together as neighborhoods of city of Zadar. There are fewer people living there now, that neighbourhood lifestyle lives on.

When we think of islands we think of isolated and remote pieces of land where nature protects and surrounds little sleepy villages. Islands in North Dalmatia fit the description in all things but one - for decades the villages were competitive neighborhoods with vibrant cultural and social scene you would expect to see in a city.

While these isles were indeed isolated for centuries, 19th and 20th centuries brought greater use of motor boats and along with them prosperity to the inhabitants who started accumulating wealth as sea farers, fisherman and farmers. Churches and schools were built and little sleepy villages and small islands started connecting and working like neighborhoods.

It is one of the larger villages in Zadar archipelago

Less than a city more than a village

Within 30km from Zadar city center there are dozens of inhabitat islands and more than two dozen villages. To put things into perspective, reaching same number of villages in Greece requires a 60km boat ride in the open sea. In Scotland islands are equally dense but not equally inhabited and tidal differences are much higher which greatly limits effectivness of transportation by sea.

Islands surround the sea in a way that creates a lake like environment: protected from the wind and the waves.

Islands and village desnsity is also unique for Adriatic. Area between islands is more protected from the winds and waves, than in other parts of Croatian archipelago. As a result, unlike in other parts of Croatia which developed as fortified cities, settlements in Zadar archipelago never grew into cities. Instead, they started connecting to each other.

This neighborhood is child friendly.

People used to travel between islands for culture, now they travel for sports: football and basketball tournaments or swimming marathons and feštas (Local Festivals, kind of like fishermen fiestas, but it can also be without fishermen)

As a resident on Zverinac or Božava in 20th century you would be very likely to host a theater performance inviting neighboring villages to see the show. Other island would take their turn organizing an exhibition or a fiestas to celebrate end of successful grape or olive harvest. You would sit in a boat and drive for a couple of hours to the other island for your share of mingling and cultural expression. Today, same tradition is kept only for sportive occasions. For decades now, there has been a fixed time table of football and basketball tournaments, hosted by different villages. An example is traditional swimming marathon on island Ist.

Fisherman routine in the old harbour on Molat.

Sails, motors and paddles

It was introduction of Latin sails that first connected these islands. Motor boats made the travels more convenient and less wind dependent. You can imagine the disappointment when on fiesta day you have wind blowing in unfavourable direcdtion. Either way, motor boats keep these islands alive today.

Village prospering and growing.

Local transport company connects the island with Zadar with two ferries a day enabling people living on the islands to do a day trip to Zadar and back – either to see the doctor, get some supplies, do some administrative work and return back for dinner. The downside is that the same timetable makes it impossible to do a day trip the other way around, making it inconvenient for travelers coming from Zadar or wanting to hop from one island to the other. That’s where kayaks come in very handy - active people can easily hop between islands paddling through the protected waters.

It's still kind of place that gives you the freedom of knowing you are at the end of the road, far away from the highways and mainland.

Your bus, sorry, ferry ride to the city center.

Transportation evolving: from rowing boats to sails and motorboats back to man-powered kayaks.

Green wilderness

Natural highway.

Sails, motors and paddles

Let us be clear that we still talk about islands - an isolated piece of land. Mighty Velebit Mountain range is somewhere in the distance, visible only after a rainy or windy day. It’s the kind of isolated place that brings along freedom knowing that you are at the end of the road, beyond the highways, parking lots and crowds. The kind of place where you would expect loneliness, but you feel none. It's either because of the well-tempered local people or because it is a place where everyone knows everyone and a week's time is enough to feel like you're home – in your neighborhood.

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