Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A "fight" over an islet, Mrduja

Posted via SSB email.  So no photos.

A "fight" over an islet

Mrduja - to whom does it belong?

At least for this year.

For years two Croatian islands have been "fighting" over a third one - a small islet located between them. For six years in a row, inhabitants of Southern Dalmatian Islands of Brac and Solta have competed against each other for the right to claim ownership of the tiny islet of Mrduja.

And they fight in a unique way - by pulling ropes. There is not another place in the world where two parties try to get possession of an island by pulling it with ropes. Yep; that is what they do. Ropes are tied to rocks ashore on each respective side of Mrduja and the tug-of-war is on!

Legend claims that either the ropes will be stretched or Mrduja will be pulled in the direction of the strongest team.
Last week the teams arrived and attached their ropes. Organizers of the event claim that Mrduja was pulled using 300-meter long ropes from both sides by 400 different boats. Participating boats ranged in both size and power from large fishing boats and yachts to dinghies.

After twenty minutes of tugging and pulling on both sides, the High Court deliberated and decided that the winner this year was the island of Solta. This year's win by Solta thus ties the score with Brac as now both parties have three victories each. Whether Mrduja moved even the slightest towards Solta as the result of their efforts, the High Court could not say. The legend remains unconfirmed and the annual tug-of-war will repeat again next summer.

Nevertheless, the people of Solta were awarded the Title Deed confirming that they have a right to fly their flag on the islet until the next tug-of-war.

They celebrated their victory by shouting "Mrduja is ours!" - jumping into the sea from their boats and singing, accompanied by brass music beats at all times.

"We came here with our strongest resources and won. I would also like to congratulate our opponents, of course. Mrduja actually connects us instead of separating us," said the joyful Mayor of Municipality Nikola Cecic Karuzic.
The first man to congratulate him was the Mayor of the Municipality from the opposing island of Brac, who also said:
"We did everything we could. We fought to the last drop of wine."

While this festivity was going on, another island held a very different kind of regatta. The island of Krapanj, a small island in the Sibenik waters of Croatia, an annual event is held to honor grandmothers and mothers of yesteryear. Women wear traditional dresses and costumes and in teams of two they row the routes rowed by their grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers. This year 7 gajeta vessels and 16 female rowers. The oldest gajeta in the regatta this year was the Konoba Dalmatia, built in 1876.

Krapanj is an island famous for diving, with an emphasis on diving sea sponges. For centuries the women on this island lived very demanding and hard lives. Women got up at 2 a.m., rowed their boats to fields in Jadrtovac, Grebastica and Donje Polje, where they worked fields. Then rowed back home where they had to take care of children, housework, personal gardens, etc.

The usual custom in Krapanj was for women to row and men to stand on the boat's prow or stern. The men would go sea sponge diving from rowboats from Brijuni to Mljet, normally with the women rowing. This sea sponge diving was incredibly dangerous and, unfortunately, many of the husbands, fathers and brothers did not make it back home. This resulted in these hardy women undertaking even more strenuous tasks to support their families.

These women must have had calloused hands beyond imagination.

And some people think they have hard working lives today. When your day seems a little tough, remember the lives led by these women.

On another note, recently we were trailing a fishing line with a brand new lure. Something cleanly snapped the titanium leader, escaping with our new lure. We could not be sure if something bit it or if the leader simply broke, except that metal for the rest of the remaining leader seemed strong as ever. Then I read a local newspaper in Split and we decided that it could indeed have been a big fish that stole our lure. During a fishing tournament a couple of weeks ago the winning catch was a 763 kilo tuna. Think of that - that is a 1,678.6 pound tuna. Wow! Second place was an 84.6 kilo tuna. Third place was 59.1 kilo and fourth place was 51.5 kilo. This was a catch-and-release tournament.

But I can danged well guarantee you that the first place catch was not released. There was a photo of this fish and it was about 2-feet longer than the height of the man who caught it. That was worth a lot of money!

Guess there are fish in this part of the Med after all! Think we will continue dragging that fishing line. Hope springs eternal.

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