Brrrrrr…what the hell is this weather! “Is it normally this cold in Dubrovnik?” asked the foreign tourist in front of me. “If it was then I wouldn’t live here,” was the only answer I could think of. This is not normal. I haven’t felt a colder winter in Dubrovnik ever. It isn’t the cold that bothers me; it’s the bloody bura that is killing me. I have just come back from England where every winter morning is down in the minus temperatures. The advantage is that bura there is nonexistent. Whatever I wear, or maybe I should say however much I wear, the bloody bura cuts through me like a hot knife through butter.
“I had heard that you were having a cold snap in Dubrovnik but I didn’t realize just how cold it was,” she added. “Welcome to Siberia and please enjoy your stay,” came my answer. It is so cold that my Labrador is sleeping under a blanket. He is a Labrador, originally from a region inside the Arctic Circle, and yet in Dubrovnik he is sleeping on my bed near to the heater under a fur blanket. One night I was awoken by the bed shaking, was it an earthquake – no – it was my Labrador shivering. It was probably the first time in my life that I have been woken by a vibrating Labrador and hopefully the last.
“Oh it is great to be so cold it will kill all the bugs and bacteria,” said a neighbour to me as I struggled to get my frozen washing off the line. “Yes, if it doesn’t kill me first,” I shouted over the wall. And with the polar icy winds ripping through the house I heard a strange noise one night, and no it wasn’t a vibrating dog. It sounded like one of those horror movies, a strange whistling noise almost like a wolf howling. “Can you hear that,” I nudged my sleeping wife. A grunt of “yes” quickly followed by “go back to sleep.” It didn’t stop.
You know when you are awoken by an annoying noise and no matter how hard you try to ignore it you can’t, that was my night. In the morning after a sleepless night I went to inspect. Doors and windows were all intact, nothing wrong there, and then I saw the culprit, a hole in the roof. The 140 km/h bura had dislodged four tiles on the roof. Would that make a whistling sound? Up into the attic to investigate. Now I have to add that the wind was still blowing, really blowing, like blowing me off my feet. I barely unlocked the outside attic door without it pulling my arm out of its socket. It was a fridge up there, no a fridge would have been much warmer, it was like the centre of an iceberg. A wind tunnel for testing the aerodynamics of a new plane, yes that’s a much better description. The first hole that I had seen from the outside had caused another two holes to form on the other side of the roof. I now had a sieve protecting my house!
And the three holes formed a concentrated wind tunnel that had the bura whistling through at breakneck speeds. My mobile rang. But my fingers were so cold that I couldn’t slid them across the screen to answer. I gave up. A few seconds later I heard an echo in the wind, sounded like a neighbour. “Are you alright,” I heard the voice again. I pushed my head through the gaping sunroof in my roof and saw a neighbour waving up at me. I shouted back but he couldn’t hear me over the wind, the bura had taken my voice out into the Adriatic. I gave a thumbs up with my frozen digit. I looked down at my mobile to see who had phoned only to be greeted by a message that my phone was shutting down due to “extreme cold.” I was also shutting down due to extreme cold. I managed to drag in the freezing tiles that had escaped but gave up on any idea of replacing them in their original position. I actually cut myself on one of the tiles but due to the cold didn’t realise until I saw a red mark on one of the tiles, my blood.
“I have a friend that can put those back for you but he won’t come out in this weather,” said my neighbour as he entered the attic. I couldn’t blame him. I stacked the six tiles in a neat pile and surveyed the blue sky through my roof. “At least there is no rain forecast for a few days,” added the neighbour. I had visions of three umbrellas sticking through the holes in the roof. “I tell you what this attic would be good for, drying pršut,” laughed the neighbour. He wasn’t wrong.
An American author whose name escapes me once wrote that “Wind is God's way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it's hotter to areas where it's cooler. That's what wind is.” If this is true it must be really, really tropically hot somewhere at the end of this bura!