Getting Mail In Croatia

This morning I was awoken by a knock at my apartment door.

“Hello?” I called.

The handle on the door turned and I called again. “Hello?!”

The handle creaked and the door slid open.

“What the heck!?” I thought to myself as I jumped from the bed, still in my sleeping bag.

The blond haired woman who helps out around the apartment building came into my room and behind her quickly followed the mail man. My hair was a mess, I had drool plastered to the side of my face, and I barely knew where I was. I tried to cover my face with my hands, but it wasn’t doing much good.

I felt like I was in a war movie. The mail man came rushing in, as though he were a police officer about to make an arrest and shoved a package in my face.

“You ist Dareb Elif? He asked.

“Yes, I’m Darren Alff.”

He shoved a paper in front of me and told me to sign.

I wriggled my hand free from my sleeping bag and jotted my name down on the paper. He handed me a bulky envelope, which contained a book sent to me from a publisher in the UK. I was expecting the package, because the envelope contained a book which I’ve been asked to read and review here on

Then the postman said, “You have other box. At tourist office. You must get it.”

“Okay?” I mumbled… and the postman and his blond haired accomplice ran from the room.

“Crap” I thought. “That was embarrassing! What the heck! Did I leave the door open? Or do they have another key?”

I got out of bed after that. I was practically shaking from the incident. It’s been a long time since I’ve been woken up like that.

I got out of bed, took a shower, dressed and then headed out in the rain to walk one mile down to the tourist office where the man told me to pick up my other package.

By now it was just after 10 AM and it was absolutely pouring rain. The mile-long walk along the coast of the ocean meant I wasn’t just getting hit from rain falling from up above, but also from water blowing in sideways off the sea. By the time I reached the tourist office I was completely soaked. Water was dripping from every part of me.

I stepped inside the office and found the woman behind the desk talking in Croatian with an old man sitting in a chair in front of her. Was he a tourist? Or was he just in there, hanging out with the woman as she pretended to do her work? Neither of them acknowledged me as I entered.

After a minute or two, I sat down in one of the nearby chairs and only then did the woman look up at me and nod her head – silently asking “What do you want?”

“Hi!” I said smiling. “The mail man told me to come down here and pick up a package?”

I handed her the form the mail man had given me.

She looked at it for a second and said, “This is not post office!” and handed the paper back to me.

She pointed outside and to the left, directing me where to go.

“Thank you” I said.

I thought it was strange that the postman would leave a package for me in the tourist office, but this is a small town and I’ve encountered stranger things on my travels.

So I left the tourist office and walked about a hundred meters down the coast to the small, one room post office located just across from the harbor.

Inside, there were three women behind the counter, but only one of them was with a customer. The other two just sat there, talking idly back and forth.

I stepped up to one of the empty counters, expecting the woman behind the glass to turn and help me, but she didn’t even budge and continued her conversation with the other woman.

I looked around to see if there was a sign telling me that this was some special line just for people needing a passport or stamps or other such thing, but there was no such sign. So I just waited until the one woman who was actually working finished with the female customer in front of me.

When the woman left a minute or two later, I stepped up to the counter, slipped the gal behind the glass my paperwork and didn’t say a word.

She motioned for my identification and I passed her my wet passport, which I had been carrying in my jacket pocket.

After the passport met her approval, she ran into an adjacent closet and brought out a small brown box, carrying it as thought it weighed a hundred pounds, and plopped it down in front of me.

“Thank you” I said, as I picked up the box (which was not nearly as heavy as she made it out to be) and walked out the door, back into the rain.

By now it was dumping. Near hurricane type weather. Waves were crashing on the shore and the water was falling from the sky at a 45% angle.

I ran as quickly as I could back to my apartment on the other side of town. The box was getting drenched as I ran, and by the time I arrived, the cardboard was starting to break apart and fall to the ground. But I did eventually make it… and the box remained intact!

The package was from my friend, Leslie.

Leslie had come to visit me earlier this year when I was in Switzerland and we had spent a good ten days or so traveling around the country on the train and by foot.

Inside the package, Leslie had packaged some of my favorite treats. Cliff bars, cookies, peanut butter, beans and tortillas, and even some magazines and a book.

I was completely drenched, still a bit shocked after my startling morning wake up, and slightly saddened by this turn in weather, but boy was I glad to have this little taste of home.


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