CROATIA’S HIDDEN TREASURES: Living on air and water or how unity almost destroyed a paradise
In the land far, far away, called the land of the hawks, hidden behind vineyard hills, not far from the old castle, just on the edge of the forests – lays a hidden spring. It is a small spring, a pool, one may say, big enough for children to jump in and play. It blows little bubbles around your body, while you lay. It’s not to cold, nor is it to warm. It’s bottom is paved with stone. Not clay.
Just next to it, there is an old barn. Next to the barn is a house, and then the village, few old houses and no caffes or shops or malls to pay.
The spring is called Jana. The Village, St. Jana’s. The nearby town, Hawkstown (Jastrebarsko).
Now, why is it of any importance to you, my dear fellow EU citizen?
Jana is a brand of bottled water. You may even find it on the shelves of your local supermarket.
Cause, you see, not far from the spring, there is a factory pumping galons and galons of this natures treasure into the plastic.
But the spring – is not owned by enyone.
The water thats flowing from it, the pool in which you can jump in, any time of the day or night, is absolutely, undoubtably – free.
Croatia is a land rich with drinking water. It’s a fact that has been under radar for far too long. Some say Jana’s water has been a sort of secret of the local people for more than 700 hundred years. The castles surrounding it, are about the same age.
But, times are changing.
Nobody actually knows the whole story, but there are rumors that St. Jana’s spring has been of an interest to so many sharks in suits. There are even speculations that the whole village was bought by a corporation called Agrokor. They are the ones shipping all those plastic bottles to ya.
So, while bathing in it on a warm summers day, and anyone who has ever visited Croatia knows we have a hellish warm Summer, I engaged in a small conversation with a local women. They told me, the villagers refused quite an enormous sum of money, offered to them from the same producer of the brand of water I was dipping my ass in. And they were talking millions!
It did made me raise an eyebrow, but the lady further on explained to me that, actually, the problem was in the barn. You know, the barn next to the spring? I did mention it.
She told me, and another one confirmed, that the man owning a house and the barn next to it is the main cause why nobody in the village became rich on pure water. -While others were interested to what the “water manufacturers” were purposing, he was the one who simply refused!- she said, while we floated in the pool.
Now, on the entrance to the village, there is a man build swimming pool. Just in front of the factory. But it’s closed. No children are swimming, no barbecues smoking on the Sun. Why is that – I asked?
Oh, that’s what “they” included in the offer – one said.
What do you mean “offer”-? I asked.
-You know, for all of us to sign rights to the water. – she explained.
It did make me think. OK, so it’s a remote village (only an hour drive from the capital Zagreb), there is no post office, or a shop, or a modern school, or a caffe, or – anything actually. If the land owners gave up their rights on water, if that’s the way things work, it would bring prosperity to the community. Sure, the “paradise of the hawks” would be lost forever, and yes, this has been a national treasure for more then 7 centuries, but what the hell, people must live, right?
And while my journalistic brain was boiling to the subject of a “water rights in Croatia topic” a brand new BMW stoped right in front of us.
Few lads, returning from the bachelors party came out of it. Tearing their ties from necks, taking off their black suits, and jumping into swimming ones, they came to wash off the hangover.
One of theme even brought a hair shampoo. Why didn’t I think of that? The water was running all the time, after all– I tought to myself. But a splash of water, caused by men jumping into the spring, popped that bubble in my head, so I returned to the conversation with the ladies. I really wanted to know more, but the ladies became silent.
However, one of the lads overheard few of my questions, and as men tend to, gave me a short answer that, in his opinion, would make me shut up.
- People here are greedy. They could not agree on anything, especially the money. – he said. – There is no unity here- he added.
-But it is a f*cuking paradise- I concluded, and, If you ever stop for a dip in St. Jana’s spring – so would you.
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