Marco: Travelling to Murter.
There and Back Again.
A volunteer’s tale by Marco Mazzotta
I am on my way to the main station of Milan. It’s six in the morning and some of my friends are taking me there.
Instead of flying, I have decided to reach Croatia by train mainly because it’s more sustainable, but I’ve also always loved the journey itself. Traveling by land means that you can see how the environment reshape kilometer after kilometer, how trees become more or less lush, how the roofs change shape adjusting to the climatic conditions of different regions. Nothing, however, enthus me like the sight of the sea: it’s always like the first time.
Even if it’s not that cold, I’m finally wearing my “travel coat” I bought last year in a second hand shop.
The train is fast and I find a girl to talk with. She has confused me for a friend of hers and the misunderstanding is a nice excuse to start chatting. She lives and studies in Milan and she’s going to Trieste to meet her boyfriend who is a professional Baseball player.
Trieste is windy. That kind of wind you love for the first five minutes, then you understand why so many people complain about it.
Without me knowing it, this week is taking place one of the most important events of the city. It’s called Barcolana and it’s a traditional sailing regatta, considered «the greatest sailing race» by the Guinness World Record. There are dozens of stands on the seafront selling boat clothing, traditional food, and a lot more.
Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia, which is considered the biggest square facing the sea in Europe, is very crowded. Here there are some representative domes hosted by the main sponsors of the event. I’m particularly impressed by the one organized by Coop – an Italian supermarket chain. In their dome, a large amount of plastic materials are hung to the ceiling and inside you feel crushed from them. I know that big companies orchestrate this kind of artistic representation as greenwashing, but it’s really well made and impactful.
I decide to take a bamboo burger in a nice vegan street food stand. Here, an old lady takes place in front of me to consume her lunch and she tells me about her daughter living in London, how she’s interested in this sustainable way of producing food, thus she sends her a picture of the burger. I’m not like a fan of plant-based food that imitates the shape and the taste of meat, but I understand that inertia is one of the most widespread characteristics among humans and tradition leavings behind is hard for some people.
After having crossed the border of Slovenia by bus, I can finally rest in a hostel in Rijeka. Quick breakfast and I’m already catching the bus that will take me to Sibenik. The beauty of this country it’s hard to describe. Now my choice of travelling by bus is completely rewarded by the magnificent sight that materializes behind the fogged windows.
Sanja, the accountant director of Argonaut, is waiting for me in the train station and, together with her son Marko, we head towards Murter. She’s giving me geographical information about the archipelago but it’s not that easy to picture such an enormous amount of islands. Later, another Argonauta employee will tell me about a legend according to which God, after generating the emerging lands, threw the leftover rocks he had in his hand into the Adriatic Sea, creating the marvellous indented coast of Croatia.
The flat where we will spend the next eight months is on the first floor and has green shutters. On the ground floor lives a nice family who owns the property. After unpacking my luggage, And look for the nearest supermarket to buy something to eat for dinner. I realize that I was so amazed by the view during the trip that I forgot I didn’t have lunch.
Dinner is almost ready but Marisol, my volunteer fellow, is still on her way to Murter. She will tell me later that Ivona, the Argonauta employee who took her from the airport, reassured her about the dinner: since I’m Italian I would have cooked for both. Stereotypes sometimes hit the target. While eating, we have the opportunity to know each other and to share the excitement about what lies ahead of us.
I’m glad to be here. This is the project I was looking for, where I can express my creativity and devote my competences to share awareness about sustainability and to valuate the heritage of this island. I’m thrilled to take part in the activities we’re going to organize during these months and I hope to discover if this is the right way for me to make a change.
For the sake of the conclusion I wish I could say that the amount of thoughts floating into my mind is keeping me awake, but the weight of two days of travelling is a powerful sleeping potion. Furthermore, I need to rest: tomorrow is my first day as a volunteer for Argonauta.