Saturday, July 3, 2010

Krka National Park

Nine people joyously stepped into a small white van. The driver nicely showed us the air conditioner vents so that we could adjust them to keep ourselves cool. The day was warming up outside, as well as inside the van. The air wafting through the air conditioning vents was also warming up nicely, the papers came out, fanning hot faces. Jeff and the Englishman sitting next to the only two windows vainly tried over and over to open them. “Kaput”, said the driver…we got the meaning. It was a blessing to finally, well over an hour later, arrive at the park, open the door, and feel the refreshing 90 degree coolness seep into the van.
Krka is a national park, and I’m truly thankful it is preserved. I fear, however, that like Yosemite, it might be loved to death. It seems to be an extremely popular Croatian vacation spot. The entry way into this bit of heaven includes all the normal accoutrements;  long lines, overpriced restaurants, souvenirs, long lines, overpriced bathrooms (4 times the cost in town), long lines. The driver bought our tickets for us, sparing us all one long line while we battled the bathroom line. Finally, it was time to join the next long line waiting for the boat, the entrance into the park.
Hmm…would it be redundant to say it was a long, unruly line this time. Picture a mob, all focused on the funnel that is the ramp to the dock to the boat. It was also quite hot…that cool 90 degree coolness had now turned into 90 degrees of heat – and getting hotter standing in the sun because, of course, we had to wait for the right time to get on the boat and the entrance to that ramp was in total sun! Finally the time came to squeeze exactly 134 people on the boat – and they were counting (glad for that). Sadly, the outside area was small compared to the number of people so over ½ of us were in the hold, with a few tiny windows that opened about 4 inches. Out came the makeshift fans again (you could tell we weren’t in Japan or they would have all been real fans).
Ah…cool temperatures again…90…J. We slowly pile out of the boat, onto a small boardwalk, wide enough for two people. It is truly a Japanese moment, the crowds of people, slowly making their way along the dock, shuffling forward as the people in front move, carefully turning to the side to let the people coming the other way pass. Finally we reach the land, the opportunity to move out, to hike, slowly, in another mob, towards the park entrance. 

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