Hitching Europe Blog #4 Team Plovkip from Italy to Croatia

Stroboscopic lightning snapshot
As ivory tower academias Bologna is supposed to be our valhalla, as it boasts the oldest university in the world: 1088 AD. But also after 900 years or so its students still adhere to the language of its founders: Italian. One might expect a certain development in the lingual field, but not a single student we talk to (asking directions and such) speaks English. We are in a hurry though, so we consult our hitchwiki friends and sail on in southern direction.

On a service station we stumble upon Aldo and Mimi, an adorable old italian couple in their late 70’s. And guess what. Aldo just cycled 400 kilometers from his hometown Ancona along the coast to Venice and inland to Bologna. Through the crazy heat, being 77 years old. With awe we were gaping at this tiny little brave old man for a moment there. And now his wife Mimi just picked him up. And even with a bike in the back of the car, they are determined to squeeze us in.

Aldo is delighted to take us, and even happier to find out we speak German, a language he learned extensively in highschool 50 years ago, and he loves it. Telling us about his heroic ‘radler’ adventures, he even uses the German word for Venice: Venedig. Mimi’s pure lovely smile reveals her love for her husband but also the long rich italian life she had been leading. Full of mindblowing food and sunshine, no doubt. Not speaking German or English, her smile and her eyes still speak a thousand words. Aldo has had a toystore most of his working his life, which he inherited from his father, who founded the family business in 1936, he explains. Wallowing our way thru the beautiful hills of the adriatic coast, the sun starts sinking in the sea. A haze of pink and orange smother the evening skies, fields of sunflowers slowly moving in the summer breeze.  They take us to their house in a tiny village close to Ancona. Here
Mimi prepares a meal for us we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams, italian risotto with parmiggiano, insalata and delicious porc and chicken steaks. The night slowly falls and as tired but happy dogs we lay our heads to rest in some proper beds.

After an italian breakfast of cookies, fruit and coffee. Aldo shows us the beautiful view of the bay near his house and puts us on the ferry to Zadar. After wading our way through swarms of italianos chasing on or two bella principiesas. We find our new friend luca, another phd, our trip is littered with the thinking class. He just went to a conference in Italy with top-notch scientists in his field (something.. Something… Biology). After initial talk of women, booze and cigarettes and relationships the conversation turns to another secret passion of ours: Politics and the state of the world. Where to begin? Impossible to uncover how we dissected the state of things.

Stroboscopic lightning taking impressive snapshots of the Mountainrange in the stormy dark, makin it look like Sauron’s mordor. But we are not entering dark hostile armpits of the world, on the contrary.  We are like firework carrying gandalfs entering hobbittown.

Let’s just start where we ended. The neo-liberal loop: you see, you think, you disagree. Perhaps you don’t like eroding social security, or your country (in this case Croatia) being owned by foreign (German) banks, or the disconnectedness of elites, or the power of corporations, or modern slavery, or the global apartheid or the Israeli-Palestine one, or perhaps that there are still politicians that think hate is a political solution.The more you think about these things, the more unhappy you become. So you give up for a while and become a self-interested hedonist. Bringing you back to what you were escaping. This is the loop. All positions in the loop are accounted for by capitalism. Nowhere can you rest and not be morally compromising. But of course the world is not black and white. There are no good guys and bad guys. There is just this crazily complex world, with all its shades of grey (hihi). Or vibrant blue colours of the sea at Pag and the fluorescent coral that we saw there. Or the fish burrowing for food, mating and nesting on the sea floor. That is what binds all us living things, and even light and all material things, we move from place to place, sometimes settling, sometimes taking solid form, exerting power, being pushed and pulled, longing, craving crying, dying and loving. Most of all loving!

Aldo and Mimi were blessed, and were aware of their blessing too. Us humans are cursed and blessed, to be able to see something of the forces driving us but never fully comprehending them. So is there a way out of the loop?

We only feel trapped, when we want to escape but we can’t. When the bounds that hold us become visible, they start to have power. The power of love is perhaps the one thing that is truly free. No one can command you to love. No corporation or state can ever own your heart, that which is freely yours to give is your heart.