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July 4, 2010

The Aussie and I landed on Brac in the afternoon and headed to our hostel. We dumped our bags and headed for the beach.

I keep referring to “the beach.” I’m sure those of you more worldly and well-traveled than I are already aware of this, but I can’t get over it: “the beach” is reminiscent of a lake shore. There is no sand. The air does not smell salty-sweet. You are still very much in town, in view of hotels and eateries. There are no waves. Part of the fun of swimming in the Atlantic is the thrill of battling the rip tides and high seas! Every time you go in, it is a struggle to survive, a test of your will and your ability to tread water. But in the Adriatic, no…you just get in, and then…there you are.

Anyway! We finished our first outing in Brac drinking beer in a park, watching the town’s old men play some variation of Bocce ball on a court set up in the park’s center.

We were excited to learn about the things Brac had to offer. Some cliffs from which to jump; a very high point on the island from which you can see all the way to Italy on a clear day; and Bol, the most beautiful beach in Croatia. We decided that we would rent scooters for a day (only 150 kn, so $26, for 24 hours) and take in Brac.

Someone at the hostel mentioned that if the scooter rental agent asked if you had driven a scooter before, it was best to lie and say you had, or else they would not rent you one. Additionally, we found out you needed your driver’s license. The Aussie didn’t have his with him, so the rental agent let us rent two scooters on my license. I’d be on the hook for any damage to EITHER of the scooters, so we all joked about how he had better drive carefully.

“And you have driven a scooter before, yes,” asked the lady at the rental desk.

I kept quiet, and the Aussie said, “Of couuuurse!”

“No, not of course,” said the rental agent, “not everyone has driven before.”

We picked out our helmets. We mounted our scooters. The Aussie started mine for me, and had briefly, secretly explained how to work the brakes and the gas. He glided off gently. I gripped the handle and twisted it to give it gas, and away I went–straight into the wall of the rental agency. There was a loud noise. The scooter fell over. I struggled to right it. The rental agent ran out and gave me a reproachful look as she helped me pick up the scooter. “I thought you said you had driven one before, ” she said. “Maybe you should only take one scooter. Maybe you two should share one.” She collected the scooter from me and wheeled it away.

OH MY GOD. I burned with shame. We canceled the whole thing. Look. In my defense, I had never touched a scooter before. If I could have just made it around the corner of the building, I could’ve taken the time to learn how to ride, could have gained some confidence, and probably would have spent the rest of the day scooting about Brac without incident. Instead, I cringed and felt embarrassed every time a scooter passed me, their drivers so carefree and speedy and skillful.

We spent the day sunning and swimming with English girls from the hostel. We watched the Holland-Brazil game in a beach side bar. I decided to root for Holland, not because I know anything about soccer, but because Brazil seemed like such an obvious choice. Seems like Brazil is to the World Cup as Duke/UNC is to the NCAA (or maybe just the ACC?). They’re really good, and everyman roots for them, and you can feel pretty good about their prospects. So, I was pretty pleased when Holland won (While we’re on the topic, I was very disappointed that Ghana lost. Maybe more disappointed than I was when the US lost to Ghana. I mean, penalty kicks. What a way to go out).

The last night in Brac ended with grilled steaks from the butcher and grilled eggplant and zucchini, eaten on the terrace, washed down with cold beers. I watched the bats circling above the rooftops, and tried not to think about my scooter crash.

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