“We do not have money, but we do have food”— is what our neighbor said. And, during the season, plenty of it. Our neighbor invited us over to see her parents’ land in Orahovica.
It was in the middle of the cherry season and I said eagerly yes, of course. So, off we went. 75 kilometers. No highway here. Across a lot of little villages with small houses, each with their own garden, a green sight. It is rural, and I love it. We also passed alongside Roma settlements. There’s a lot of life on the street.
If you look on Google maps, you’ll see that we live close to the confluence of the Danube and the Drava river. For centuries it has made the soil rich and fertile. There is a lot of swamp area, and if you turn that into minefields, you will understand how cruel—and impossible—it is to get that cleaned.
Our neighbor’s parents’ land is a bit much for a garden (more than a square kilometer). They grow all the common stuff and a few uncommon fruit, like the American blueberry. It is not treated at all and is very nice but a lot of work. But, Baka is able to do it. She makes jam, apple juice, wine, rakija (the welcoming, highly alcoholic Croatian drink) and a lot more. This couple was born in the fifties and learned Russian in school with the Cyrillic alphabet. After the war, kids learned English and lost the Cyrillic writing.
After a good meal, with chicken from a local farmer, homegrown potatoes, peas, salad, and soup, we came home with this:
500 grams of strawberries
8 kilos of cherries! (two different kinds, one is the best, second is the best of the best)
2 kilos of red berries
A very satisfying feeling!
She also gave us a bottle of homemade wine; 4 liters of homemade apple juice, one for each child; and 1 liter of rakija (that is for the coming years).
The strawberry and cherry season is over, but other fruit is ripening.
It is an interesting experience to encounter two totally different cultures. The Croatian culture is very different from the Roma culture. We have a lot to learn! But, compared to the very hard and frustrating language study moments are these experiences that definitely offer us a lot of sweet memories.
Thank you so much, slatki susjedi!