The rest of my time on Hvar was spent simply. I lived as my brothers lived. Coffee and stories in the morning with Giovanni, the only other early riser. Down to the port to help round up customers for Nikse and Antes taxi boats. Coffee breaks. Walks. Lunch. Checking on the grapes. Naps. Riding back and forth to Palmizana Island on the front of the boat. Late dinners. Talk of war (its still very fresh for them) and of politics. Singing “Gas Gas” along with the Severina CD (Croatian sensation). This was way better than any sightseeing. One drawback: I am now a heavy smoker. I figure with all the second-hand smoke I inhaled over those 4 days, I must be up to about 2 packs a day. Only Mario, an ex-special services agent who fought in Kossovo, doesnt smoke. The best word I can think of to describe the people is enigmatic: A complex conglomeration of characteristics. One can sense the influence of the rule of so many nations over the centuries (especially Italian). Damir described it this way: “An Italian man sees a beautiful woman and makes a comment to her. A Croatian man sees a beautiful woman, waits until he is sure she wont notice him looking at her, and says nothing.” The are at times brash, yet somehow also reserved, humble and refined. Nikse was deathly embarrassed when I thanked him for letting me stay at his guesthouse for no charge. He couldnt change the subject fast enough. They are industrious and entrepreneurial. Like many tourist destinations in Europe and North America, they rely heavily on “the seven and eight” (Damirs way of saying July and August, as he doesnt know the proper names in English) for the bulk of their income. Most of them have more than one job at any given time. In addition to his vineyard, Nikse has the apartments, two taxi boats, a car wash, and is preparing to open a nightclub. Mario paints (and tried more than once to get me to agree to help him paint the summer home of the Croatian president) and helps with the boats. Yet despite the amount of work, they dont ever complain. They are a happy people. Maybe it has something to do with the 2700+ hours of sunshine the island receives in a year? I bet theyve never even heard of SAD here. As much as I hated the smoking, I still wouldnt have changed a thing about my experience. I simply took my hair out for an air-out, Maya did my laundry, and all is fresh again. As fresh as my memories of my brothers in Hvar will always be.