That boat going off in the picture is the last boat of the day leaving the Island without me.
That was the boat that had brought me to Mljet in Croatia. As everyone else got onto the only bus that left the harbour that day, I didn’t as I wanted to wonder about a bit before getting on the next bus to take me to the National Park. This was the 2nd mistake. I realised soon enough though that the bus came as frequently as the boat. There was one road that stretched across the Island to the National Park, which is where I wanted to be. I’d seen the map, I was sure that I could walk it. Further up the road, it started twisting and turning, getting narrower. Eventually there was no pedestrian path. It was too dangerous for me to continue on the now very steep hill with blind corners so I had to hitch hike.
The driver that picked me up, took me to the first cafe in a small village. As I continued to walk miles along the one road, I arrived at a campsite. To this day, I shall never forget their expressions.
Me: “Hi, the people in the cafe said you had accommodation. That I’d be able to sleep here.”
Owner of the campsite: “Yes, of course you can camp here” He eyed me suspiciously for I only had flip-flops, my vest, shorts, a hoodie tied round my waist and a beach towel.
Me: “Excellent, that’s great! Erm…I’m hoping you can help me though?”
Owner: “Ah you have a car with your things in?” This of course made much more sense. Why else would a random girl turn up to a campsite without anything right?
Me: “No, that’s where I’m hoping you can help. Do you have a tent I can borrow?“
Me: “Do you have a tent and sleeping bag for the night that I can borrow?”
Owner: “My English isn’t very good, would you repeat it please?” He asked in perfect English. The look of suspicion was back on his face. He was looking around to see which one of his friends had set this joke up because again, no one turns up to a campsite without any camping gear.
Me: “Your english is perfect. I erm, didn’t realise that I missed the last ferry and so I’m stranded.” I was trying to hide my embarrassment.
The Owner kindly found a spare tent, put it up for me, provided sleeping bags and a torch. I was going to hide in there until the morning, but hunger got the better of me so I went to the campsite restaurant.
As I walked in, silence fell as everyone stopped and stared at me. I thought that would be my most awkward moment of the day, but I was wrong. The chef brought out the fish I had ordered beautifully plated. He then took away my cutlery, sat a few seats away and proceeded to debone the fish to make sure that everything was in bite size safe portions. I clearly couldn’t be trusted with a knife or other sharp objects. The absurdity of the situation was too much for me to bear. I laughed so much that I had tears rolling down my face. There was no room to be self-conscious, it was hilarious. It ended up being a really fun evening. Despite being the butt of the joke, everyone was so kind.
In the morning, the Owner, the Chef, and three other people from the campsite all escorted me to the boat. They watched me sail away, waving until I was a safe distance from the Island. They didn’t trust me to make it by myself and I think they wanted to make sure I had actually left.
As I returned to the hotel room, I had to acknowledge that my mate was right and I was wrong . Subsequently he has never trusted me since when it comes to travelling, or packing for that mater.