This column could quite easily be entitled “Lost in Konavle,” or more precisely “Lost in a place where I never thought I’d find.” After more than twenty years of living here I thought I’d been everywhere and seen everything. How wrong I was. “The funeral will be in Zastolje in Konavle, to be honest I’m not exactly sure where it is but how difficult can it be to find,” commented a friend to me.
Yes, my reasons for going into the wilds of Konavle weren’t enjoyable, but to attend a funeral. My mother always used to say to me as I rolled out of bed late for school and threw on my clothes in a hurry, “You’ll be late for your own funeral.” She might be right, but I was running late for someone else’s and was totally lost.
Although I lived for most of my adult life in London I grew up in the rolling green hills of the county of Kent. Nicknamed “the garden of England” it is a largely rural area with villages dotted around the green mass of nature. And each village has its own church, for example I lived in Coxheath and there was one Coxheath Church. So I presumed that each village in Konavle would have its own church, wrong again.
It would appear that there are more churches in Konavle than there are trees in the Amazon forest, or more books than on amazon.com.
When all else fails ask Google. With the address of the village in Google maps I dutifully followed the directions of the somewhat sexy female voice. “Turn right after 300 metres,” she whispered. I followed her directions even though it appeared I was heading into a vineyard. The road was getting narrower and narrower. In fact it was hardly a road anymore as grass was now growing in the centre and then the sexy voice said “This road isn’t recognized.” “You took me down this bloody road,” I was now arguing with Google.
I pushed on, like Indiana Jones in the jungle in search of the Lost Ark. With bushes scratching both sides of my car the erotic female voice announced “Congratulations you have reached your destination!” If my destination was slap bang in the middle of nowhere then she was 100 percent right. There wasn’t even a house, let alone a church, there wasn’t even a dog, maybe a wolf but no signs of life. “Being lost doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. After all, when Columbus got lost, he discovered America,” once wrote Catherine RossiI. I hadn’t discovered America but it felt like I was in a Hitchcock movie.
I headed back and hadn’t driven more than a couple of hundred metres before a car came around a corner and the driver waved at me for help. “Are you going to the funeral as well, my GPS said I have arrived but this can’t be the right place,” he pleaded through his window. It seemed that my new friend was also a member of the “Lost in Konavle Club.”
I headed back to the main road with a plan. The plan was to look at cars passing and if they were all wearing black I’d follow them. I’d already been in Konavle for an hour, luckily I had filled up with petrol before this adventure. I saw a car and followed them. Mission failed as I ended up at a football match between two local teams. After trying, and failing, to call friends going to the same church I went back to Google. “I’ll go from church to church until I find it,” I made a deal with Mrs. Sexy Voice.
I had a back-up plan. Learn from former generations. So I headed for higher ground. Sokol Grad was my destination. There is a reason why it was chosen as a defensive point, because it commands views over the whole region. Maybe from there I’d be able to see the church. I’d reached my sixth, yes sixth church, in twenty minutes and was losing hope. I had lost count on how many private houses I had had to turn around in after taking yet another dead end. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the people I woke up from their afternoon siesta as their dogs barked at my car as I tried to perform a U-turn. “I’ll try this road and then try and find my way home,” yes by this time I was caught in a conversation with Mrs. Google.
The amount of time I had spent in my car I could have been on the Riva in Split. The final road and bingo. Cars coming towards me full of passengers in black. I’m not Sherlock Holmes but this was looking promising. Turning into yet another tiny Konavle road I saw my fellow member of the “Lost in Konavle Club” parking his car. “Well that wasn’t easy to find,” I commented to him. “You’re telling me,” he puffed his answer, adding “and I’m from Konavle.”