My driver's heart stopped. We are both fine.

My driver's heart stopped. We are both fine.

I hitched several modes of transport during my time in Croatia: a rusty tractor, a Tito era car without numberplates, a Cadillac with NYC number plates, a leather seat Mercedes, a little fishing boat, a couple of scooters and an old tourist ship.

With all that variety I specially cherish one ride, with Ivo the war time ambulance driver. He saved me from the crushing heat when I was starting to think I would faint. He pulled over and handed me a bottle of water out the window, no questions asked. It was only later that he asked me where I was going. He said I looked like a big burnt mushroom on the side of the road. He went really out of his way to sneak us into Krka National Park that is a true wonder, I felt like a happy gnome in a water abundant world.

We cheerfully made our way out of the park through high narrow streets; at every turn I could see cliffs, water or boulders far down. Ivo was chatting about his war time experiences and his family when suddenly he stopped the car abruptly, closed his eyes and held himself tight without saying a word. He passed out a moment later. I couldn't believe what was happening. Called 112 from my phone, they transfered me to a Croatian call center who located where I was, asked me a bunch of questions ( German was very useful at this point) and sent an ambulance. I didn't know what to do! is he breathing? do I hold his head up? down? lay him outside the car? Do I call his family? Where exactly are we? I had to get out of the car through his door. Mine opened to the precipice. I have to say I was impressed when the ambulance showed up in what seemed little time.

One ambulance driver and two doctors jumped out and did everything so swiftly and professionally I thought they were angels. They took Ivo to the hospital, me and one of the doctors followed with Ivo's car. In that time I managed to explain the situation to the doctor who thought we were lucky that Ivo had the self restraint to brake the car before the curve. I just met Ivo, I said, please save him, he has family.

I couldn't bring myself to leave even though I had stopped shaking. I decided to stay in the emergency room waiting for news, in the mean time the nurses handed me Ivo's clothes, wallet, car keys and his cellphone. So I called Marjia, his wife who was sitting next to her daughter who is a English teacher at the local Elementary School. Explaining a situation which seemed so unlikely to someone I didn't know over the phone was excruciatingly ridiculous. They all came: Marjia, Anna, Frank and the children. They covered me in hugs and kisses, they said that if it hadn't been for me, Ivo would still be in the car. I cried, we all cried together. Twelve hours later we finally got concrete news from the doctors, it had been a minor heart attack, he would be fine. It turned out that all the senior doctors and nurses knew Ivo from the time of the war so they were giving him extra care.

Marjia stayed with Frank (the son) in the hospital, they were allowed to see Ivo. Anna took me and her kids home, this family wasn't ready to let me go. I was guided to a Lilac colored room in the fresh house, with a window facing a Lavender bush. I slept what seemed feverish sleep conjuring all compassionate people I know, they all came and covered me with blankets. When I woke up I felt overwhelmed with love. We celebrated the next day and went swimming to the beach with the kids, Marjia didn't let me go without sharing Sliwowitz.

Before leaving Nin I went with Anna to see Ivo in the hospital, he seemed to have shrunk from his athletic porté, lost color and charm. He smiled timidly and kissed my hand as a goodbye. He reminded me of my Dad, also changed by hospital life. I convinced Frank to put me on the road again after begging him to not buy me a bus ticket. I was convinced I belonged on the road and nowhere else.

I opened my bag some hours later to find dried frigs, appricots and strudel. Even though I was again on my own, I felt the whole world with me, shinning from the inside, encompassing, caring, opening, showing me whatever my eyes are ready to see ... and the organic certainty that everything is in balance.

Now I'm back in Berlin, intoxicated in my dance with life, ready and full of love to share.


valentina's picture

sometimes we need our drives:

sometimes we need our drives: when we are lost on desolate roads, when we are hungry of human connections, when we need food and shelters, when we want to get to our destination by moving forward.

yet, the most unforgettable experiences for me are the ones in which I feel to be only a mean for destiny to happen. And this "destiny" involves someone (the driver) needing for me. For my food, my presence, my moral support, my energy.

I donno how to explain what happens in these cases if not with the word "magic". the magic o souls needing each other. the magic of exchanged gifts. the magic of the road, which is, essentially the magic that exists life highlighted by the power of visible "coincidences".

thank you to show us again that this magic exists.

the rem's picture


Did you´ve been to my place at 2 o´clock and crack my windows?

the rem's picture


Did you´ve been to my place at 2 o´clock and crack my windows?

amylin's picture

full of colour and emotion

this is an amazing story

rene's picture

Little mushroom... this one

Little mushroom... this one was breathtaking... The thriller is still playing on my head. And this happened in such beautiful landscape... And yes, the color of the skin changes after heart attack.

Jass's picture

This is incredible..thank you

This is incredible..thank you so much for posting this..