Wow, Im almost caught up to present day…just in time to leave Split and head for Hvar for a whole new set of adventures. The three-hour bus ride to Split was actually 4. I remember now reading in one of my travel books that one should take whatever time is estimated for overland travel, and double it. Duly noted. I had barely hauled my pack out from the belly of the bus when I was being swarmed by “sobe” people. Men, women, old, young…everyone in Croatia has private accommodations for you. I waded past them all and checked out some private accos (the abbreviation we seasoned packers use for “accommodations”) through one of the travel agencies. The place she was recommending looked depressing and for 160KN a night I was sure I could do better on my own. Armed with pages torn from my Lonely Planet book, I struck out on my own in search of a bed. Lucky me, I stumbled across the greenery-filled courtyard of little Hostel Split. Hostel Split just happens to be housed in a centuries-old stone house just minutes from the Old City and is run by Elda, who immediately became my mother-away-from-home. She squeezed me in to the last bed available and promptly insisted that she cook lunch for the two of us. Everything comes at a price, of course, so Elda sent me trotting off to the supermarket with a Croatian grocery list in hand. I got sidetracked for a while at the wrought-iron gate to the hostel, talking to a couple from Paris who were just leaving. After giving me the business card of a reccommended apartment on Hvar, they wrote down their coordinates for me so that I might visit them in Paris sometime. It was the briefest encounter Ive had to date on my travels, but somehow one with tremendous connection. Elda was getting really hungry and kind of impatient by now, so I ran down the street to Konzum (good name for a grocery store eh?) I smiled sheepishly at the supermarket clerk and offered lots of “Hvala”s as she led me around the store, gathering items on the list…tomato sauce, fresh bread and the like. Elda whipped up a fantastic pasta dish in about 9 seconds, and we sat out in the courtyard with a gentleman from Ireland and ate heaps (my first real meal in at least 24 hours). I decided to do nothing that afternoon. Its only been less than a week, but travelling by the seat of your pants with nothing pre-booked takes a lot out of you. I lazed in the courtyard with laundry flapping overhead and the random chatter of other guests floating around me. Its a small but busy hostel with lots of people coming and going, and with a much better atmosphere than the one in Zagreb. Doors are all wide open, everyones packs are lying about and there seems to be a tremendous amount of mutual respect and trust. I listened to the boys from the UK tell hilarious tales from the Ramshackle Rally they had just completed. The gang all ran off to dinner and I decided to once again skip eating and just have a quiet night in my room (translation: they didnt invite me). I actually had a great nights sleep (earplugs are fantastic!!) and awoke to a jam-packed Tuesday, which i will tell you about in another entry. I am going to stay up until I figure out how to make an apostrophe on this Croatian keyboard….