The sunrise was still at the beginning, the morning fog swallowed the fields and houses and in the most houses of Kuterevo it was still quiet and calm. But what was the noise of a car engine and quick step’s in front of the Volunteers Station?
It was the start of our journey to Istrija, one of the three big parts of Croatia and how we will recognize, one of the most beautiful. Still in Lika, the region where Kuterevo is located; we were thinking and reflecting how long the journey will take. As we entered Istrija after more or less two hours of driving, Danijel mentioned that the landscape looks for him like parts of France, how people will tell us later it has also a lot of similarities with the Toskana in Italy. In general Istrija has, apart from the landscape, a lot of other relationships and similarities with Italy. For example in Istrija the second spoken language is Italian, which is not difficult to recognize, because every official sign is written also in Italian. As a kind of sympathy or better to say just randomly we were also driving in an Italian car, a small and nice “Fiat Seiscento”.
The reasons why we started this travel, were simple and important in the same time, three different libraries in three different cites invited Ivan Crnkovic Pavenka, the president of Organization VUK, where we are volunteering, to present to local pupils something about the topic: “Men and bear; four big carnivores wolf, lynx, bear and men”.
Our first target was the city Umag, in the northwest of Istrija, there we had a contact to one librarian, called Neven, in the very modern library in the center of Umag, where Neven works, and we were supposed to have our first presentation. Our audiences were between 20-30 pupils from the local primary school and related to this we planned to make our presentation as much alive and entertaining as possible, but in the same time to transmit also some information. For this we took a lot of interesting and funny stuff all around bears, like a big bear costume, pictures from our bears in the refuge, small bear toys as presents and a lot of our interesting things. Always at such a presentation either Danijel or me put the bear costume on and played the friendly bear “Brundo”, which was showing by example how half bear/half men behave! It was a nice, spontaneous and a lot entertaining event for the kids, with lots of funny moment’s and big laughing, because of Danijels and my Croatian language mistakes. After one school hour about Croatian brown bears, the kids left with a big smile on their face. Danijel and I were full of sweat because of the heat in the library and outside, especially me because I was wearing the bear costume, but also we were really happy to see good impact at the children.
After this good beginning, Neven the librarian invited us for lunch to a nice restaurant in a small town near Umag. This restaurant had really good fish, so we decided all to order fish. After lots of good fish, good Malvazija vine and interesting conversations with Neven, who is maybe one of the most friendly librarian in whole Istra, we continued our travel towards the main capital of Istrija Pula. The big roman Arena, the most popular sight of Pula was impressive at night, with all the light beams and a good view over Pula. But it was a little disappointing to see that the nightlife of Pula under the week is not very impressive, nearly all clubs etc. were closed, so we just drink some beers in a rock bar and came not very late back to our earned Oh-Mir.
The next morning we started the day, with a good breakfast in our hotel, with scrambled eggs and orange juice. A good start for the morning, this was necessary, because our second presentation in the library of Pula was around eleven. We found the library, not unexpected, quicker than the hotel. The library of Pula is also very modern like the one in Umag, but twice or three times bigger.
The also friendly librarians showed us a big presentation room with a lot of chairs and place. We prepared our thing and were waiting for our audience, which were also pupils from primary school, but around the double number than in Umag. I have to admit that I was more nervous, in front of the more or less hundred chairs in this big room, than in Umag. The atmosphere of this big room wasn’t very comfortable. Near the end of the presentation one teacher mentioned suddenly that she and her pupils have to go, because they expected a shorter presentation. So suddenly the half of our former audience had to leave the room. Also this fact was not very good for the atmosphere during the presentation. A good thing for me was, that after our presentation some kids stayed longer to look and try the thing we brought about bears from Kuterevo. But all in all there is to say that in comparison with our first presentation in Umag the second one in Pula had not this impact for the kids and left also for us not such a good feeling. Moreover there was no nice Neven, who invited us for lunch, but this just as a site note. It was not even noon, but we decided not to stay longer in Pula, but to continue our travel to the last town on our trip through Istrija, Pazin.
Our hotel in Pazin was called “Lovac”, what means hunter in Croatian. Related to this characteristically name, there was a dead, stiffed bear welcoming us in the entrance. This was a little paradox, because one aim of our presentations is to make the kids aware of the fact that the bear is not an enemy or dangerous killer in the forest, but to show how important and nice the bear is for nature and that hunting bears because of this way of thinking is a pity and blamefully. Apart from this paradox welcoming the hotel was very nice and comfortable.
We arrived very early in Pazin so we took a little time to visit the town. Ivan told us he wanted to visit his old school, as we went there it was a bit emotional for Ivan to see his old school he visit many years ago. Also we promised the other volunteers in Kuterevo to bring some presents for them from Istrija, so we bought good olive oil, Istrija is popular for. Danijel and me we were tired from the travel, so we decided to stay in the hotel and take a good rest, to be fit for the last presentation in library of Pazin.
The library of Pazin was also a big complex, but there is to say that the library was just a small part in this big building, the rest was a concert and activity hall or a café. The librarians from Pazin were very nice and engaged and with their help the preparation where quickly finished. The library had not enough space for all the pupils which were supposed to come so the presentation took place in a corner of the big entrance hall of the complex. Our experience in the library of Pula let us reflecting about how we would do in the next library in Pazin. We decided to play a little theater, which was good for creating a good atmosphere from the beginning. Also the fact that the pupils were sitting very close to us and not far like in the big presentation room in Pula was better for interacting with the pupils. Surprising was the librarians sang with the kids at the beginning, which was very nice to see and create from the beginning at open and happy atmosphere. All in all the presentation in Pazin had also a good impact at the pupils and as well we could feel how important some small things are to create good atmosphere for children. The kids, Danijel, Ivan, me and the librarians, we all were much more satisfied than with the presentation in Pula, so we left the library with a good feeling.
After our last presentation we went to visit a little bit Pazin, the old castle and a deep cave “Jama” with a nice legend. After we took lunch in Pazins old town and started our travel back to Kuterevo. Around seven in the evening we arrived happy, satisfied and tired back home.