One warm, sunny morning last October, I walked through a crowded, busy market in the old town of Split. Located just steps away from the harbour I could smell the sea breeze and see the bobbing sailboat from where I stood. I wandered slowly around the packed stalls with their mountains of sweet, ripe, fly-covered fruits and vegetables. No intentions. No thought of where to go. No plan for what to buy. I just observed.
An elderly vendor was giving a sample of a pear to her friend when she noticed me and called me over. She sliced off a chunk with a well-used knife and handed it to me with a very wrinkled smile. I could hear my friends back home warning me of disease and food-borne contamination but my desire to experience, to interact, to be present was greater than my doubts. The pear was sweet and firm and juicy.
Taking my inspiration from the moment, I chose a bunch of pears to purchase from her stall. She was so busy serving locals as they bought peppers, lemons, pears, figs and tomatoes, I could barely find my place in line. I simply waited and watched. I was in no hurry. Standing in the bustling market surrounded by people it hit home, this is what I love about travel. I couldn’t speak a single word of Croatian and the vendor spoke no English but through signs and our mutual desire, we completed the transaction. Our shared appreciation for fresh, ripe fruit required no translation. I guess I didn’t really haggle, or actually use any Croatian, but I did walked away feeling richer and understood.
Today I say yes to the tantalizing sweetness of fresh fruit. Yes to stolen moments surrounded by chaos. And yes to the commonalities that connects us all.
We travel not to escape life. But for life not to escape us. – Unknown