Lost and Found during Carnival, Matulji, Opatija

If you plan to visit Eastern Europe and plan to drive, you will need a good GPS. We have still not purchased a good GPS. But perhaps we do not need one. Last fall you may recall we traveled to Beograd (Belgrade), Serbia, for a short vacation. Our Google and Booking.com directions got us nowhere fast. What is more, because of the oligarch-controlled mobile industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina — think Mexico on steroids — there is no use in trying to phone; your minutes will drain from your account in seconds. But then stuck in the middle of one of the largest cities in Eastern Europe a man in a car pulled up next to us and began speaking in Serbian. After ascertaining that we were American, he quickly switched into English, telling us that he was our proprietor and inviting us to follow him.

He actually was our proprietor!

Dumb luck you say. Well, yesterday, during the busiest festival day of the year, we are stuck in traffic outside of Matulji neighborhood in the seaside Croatian town of Opatija. Carnival. The streets are closed. It is raining. We think that our apartment is somewhere on the other side. But of course we cannot reach that part of the city by car. So we decide to park, get out and walk. We walk and we walk. And we walk and we walk. Eventually we stop a young man on the street walking a dog. We show him the address of the apartment and he says, “Oh, that’s my address. I will take you there.”

It actually is his address. He actually does live there. And his father is our proprietor!

I do not believe in magic. Nor do I believe that there is a divine GPS somewhere keeping me on track. What I do believe is that something like the narrative in the movie “Tree of Life” is playing out in our lives. Grace happens. Sometimes we deliver it. Other times it is delivered to us. And some times we wish it would appear, but it doesn’t. It is absent. And we feel it. We feel its absence.

So will that deter me from purchasing a GPS before my next trip? No. I have wasted way too much time lost on the roads of Eastern Europe. Not, however, without a little grace.

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