Epilogue: the other side of Croatia

Croatia: a great holiday destination. But the past is never far away, and you also find extreme poverty here. The average income is now over EUR 600 per month. That’s still not much when you consider that prices in the supermarket do no differ much from the prices in Western Europe. And remember: it is an average. If you are unemployed, or have a pension of EUR 150 per month, life seems no fun to me.

Every year there is a direct confrontation with this. And that is upon returning to the port of Kaštela. Most charters (and that often includes us) have leftover supplies. You buy some extra, you eat out more often than planned, et cetera. Because many crews leave by plane, that excess inventory gets thrown into the dustbin.

Usually it does not stay there for long. Each container is ‘managed’ by one or a few (usually older) Croats. The container park at the main entrance to the Marina even has an entire group with a strict hierarchy. The leader checks the bags and determines who gets what share of each bag. If this would not be so tragic, it would almost make me smile.

At the end of Saturday morning, as old crews have left and new crews trickle in, the collectors leave the port with their share. If your monthly income is EUR 150, then EUR 10 or EUR 20 extra per week is a welcome addition.