The week following Petrinja was not exciting. The previous week had provided too much excitement, something which would have reverberated around north-western Istria, meaning everyone needed a rest. We settled into the kindergarten, and Alessio had a new job in the library of the Italian Elementary School.
During the week we were asked if we could help out at the Mercatino (Christmas market) in Brtonigla, this would involve introducing some performances. We agreed, I would be speaking with Monika on Saturday.
Before going I had a few practise goes, with Alessio checking my pronunciation (I would be speaking in Italian). Once there we were introduced, said hello and introduced the first performers: an acting group who did a short nativity play. Next up was an all female choir, followed by a vocal group lead by Elena’s dad, who utilised me to introduce some of the English songs his group would be singing. At the end of the evening we were thanked for our hard work with a bottle of wine, and I got some compliments on my Italian.
Monika and I raced home, collected Alessio, and then went to Vodnjan, where we would spend the night celebrating Mariya’s birthday with the volunteers there. I was told off for being a few hours early with my birthday wishes as her actual birthday was on Sunday. We relaxed until midnight by getting to know the new people, such as Caner, a volunteer from Turkey, and catching up with those we hadn’t seen for a while.
When midnight came we celebrated with a cake (panettone that was covered with melted chocolate) and a treasure hunt for Mariya to find her presents, which were hidden under her bed.
We then left the fun town of Vodnjan to go to Pula, where we ended up in a bar/ club that had a rock night, and we partied with many middle-aged Croatians – it was interesting to be the youngest people in a club again – until the early hours.
After just a few hours sleep Monika, Alessio and I had to get up for a road trip. The first stop was Labin, where we picked up Daniela, a Spanish volunteer, and then we negotiated the coastal road to Rijeka. The cost of having fantastic views of the coast was the time it took to reach Rijeka, but we got there in the end.
In Rijeka we had time for a quick lunch and a coffee, were able to get to know Daniela a bit, including hearing about her year spent in Palermo on Erasmus, before Alessio and I had to return for Alessio’s starring role at the Mercatino in the evening.
I went to the Mercatino later with Maja and Ana, to see Alessio and Irena at work, then the three of us went back to Ana’s for a bite to eat (which was lucky, because I had nothing to eat at home). After this, and meeting her dogs, we were looking through some photos when a lack of sleep was catching up with me, and we decided to call it a night.