it was shoulder season, and We were the only 5 Americans in Sutivan, A small Croatian town on the island of Brach; population: 450.
In we piled to our Euro clown car rental, boggled by how spatially efficient those Europeans are.
Look how much we can stuff into this itty bitty car!
Look at how narrow this street is!
It wasn't a street, ok? And our car sure was was itty bitty, but not itty bitty enough to squeeze scratch-free through the pedestrian walkway from the top of a hill to the bottom, which wound and wound down the scenic hills, slowly and slyly narrowing in width as we made our way down.
We found ourselves stuck between two stone buildings, wearing our over-sized hats and beach cover-ups and yelling at Siri to please, please stop re-routing--we can't move!
I managed to crawl through my window (I'm amazing) without giving myself the round of applause I thought I deserved in that moment, and check out what was ahead. Some horizontally-parked car at the bottom of the road begged our sandwiched car to slide down and T-Bone it.
I decided we could either: live and die stuck between the stone walls, or creep our way down the path. I told my dad, who was driving, to go ahead forward. "It's a tight squeeze. We are probably going to hit someone's car. Maybe not."
We rolled right into that parked car--not before successfully scratching the entire left side of the rental. #Winning. We all hopped out, waiting for someone to come outside and howl at us for ramming their vehicle.
One sister sobbed from the stress of the situation as the other sister walked her away from the scene.
I documented the window sills overflowing with flowers up and down the tiny pathway. That beautiful scenic path deserved adoration, regardless of the damage it may have caused to our emotional states or our rental car.
My mom tried her best to hold in laughter, as my dad very nonchalantly told no one in particular to "go pick up the part of our car that popped off."
The owner of the car approached us with the grandest, whitest smile. He had white hair and tanned skin from a life in the Mediterranean sun.
This is the first thing he said to us, the people who took a wrong (and probably illegal) turn and whammed into his car, as he reached out to shake our hands:
"How are you enjoying Sutivan so far?"
He chatted with us for fifteen minutes like we were old friends; we talked about the town, the different islands, what we had done and seen already. The restaurants we wanted to go to. The Blue Caves that I couldn't wait to see, and his recommendations for getting around.
I was incredulous. This man was so remarkably nice. His first words to the delinquent Americans were how are you enjoying the town?
It was my dad who brought up the car accident. The man walked casually over to his car, glanced at it for maybe three seconds, and gestured to where we ricocheted off of it, "It's no problem, no problem."
We were astounded.
Of course, my dad and the car owner settled up, but it took coaxing from my dad to get him to accept anything.
Truly, the Croatian culture is unlike any I have ever encountered. Wham someone's car? you'll get kindness and warmth.