I loved this port. Magical, sublime so very beautiful, an unexpected Eden. But yet, just 15 years shy of the Croatian War for Independence there is an undercurrent of darkness, of pain that glints through in between the glittering sequins of the sun dancing across the bluest sea. I am drawn to this sort of juxtaposition — I always have been. I suppose I am always a bit suspicious of the overly sunny and perfect and of those who lay claim to these things. The fading scars of this country are sad but beautiful to me.
You can go to Dubrovnik and not see a single trace of the war if you want to — I almost did. Following a scuba dive the dive master offered to drive me around town to show me the sights after finding out that I was a photographer. One place that he took me to was an abandoned mansion tucked away on the coast just outside of Dubrovnik. Broken glass, rotting staircases, and the effects of family that left quickly and permanently littered the ground. Outside, on the rock coastline below the mansion, Croatians laughed and swam in the sea, their voices carrying inside.
Years later the mansion still stands here, frozen in time, tied up in Communist land title red tape, uninhabited except maybe by ghosts. Although Ivan (the dive master) tells me that movie star John Malkovich was trying to buy it.
For the SAS slideshow I did not focus on the war — instead there is the sea, the Old Town, the graceful summer festival, and more. To view the audio slideshow click on this link: