My appreciation for Croatia grows deeper every time I visit. This week I went to my “selo” (pronounced sell-oh). The Selo to me is more than just a summer respite between trips down the coast, so the direct translation of “village” doesn’t quite cut it.
To me the Selo is homemade wine; it’s barrel-brewed rakija (fruit brandy bordering on moonshine), the bursting fragrance of the overripe plums, figs and pomegranates from which this traditional liquor derives. The Selo is old babas (grandmothers) covered in the black shawls with which they honor their long-dead husbands—warriors who served and died defending their homeland during several generations of Balkan war.
The Selo is traditional women playfully berating you for not eating enough just after stuffing you full with freshly-baked bread, a hearty stew and all the lamb you can stomach. The Selo is Bura, the sharp, howling Northern wind that emerges with absolutely no warning and just as rapidly decays into nothing, a signal perhaps to unwelcome visitors that their time here is fleeting.
To me, the Selo is a home that is at once very real and a very distant dream. Despite the tranquility of it all, there are three practical reasons to visit your ancestral village: knowing where you come from is incredibly grounding, knowing your options improves your bottom line in life as a negotiator, and knowing yourself gives you peace of mind. All of this knowledge is best found in the Selo.
Know Where You Come From
While the Selo may be bountiful, it doesn’t come without its problems. Though many of my cousins’ fathers had perished in war not more than a generation ago (those who didn’t tend to drink themselves into a stupor) their sons have since been blessed with beautiful lives, families of their own, and vast tracts of untaxed land to build up into whatever future they might envision.
As for me, I may command a higher salary at a corporate job, but I’ve had to learn game just to stay afloat within the unnatural, toxic maze of sex-signalling internet whores and masculine Third Wave Feminists that comprise the North American dating market today. Despite the relative chastity and traditional values of Croatian-Canadian women, I’m still too young to marry (at least back in the West where most Croatian women do still pursue an education and career).
At the end of the day, it is reassuring to know that there is a life beyond Canada that better reflects my true values, and that the people living out just such a life are doing perfectly fine. This, in stark contrast to Western media’s typical portrayal of the sullen-eyed Slav and his supposedly dismal xenophobic culture makes me feel more at home in my convictions. Growing up in an anti-White cesspool such as Canada can be stifling. Exposing yourself to visceral examples of your heritage is a remedy to false multiculturalism that cannot be experienced merely by watching YouTube videos.
Everyday I’ve been here I’ve walked past at least one pregnant or child-rearing woman about my age or younger who in Vancouver could just as easily be showering herself in male attention with Twitch or Patreon donations, funding her useless Liberal Arts degree by stripping nude online whenever it pleases her. At my advanced age (I’m just shy of 25), I’m no stranger to village marriage solicitations—insomuch as they are announced in half-joking manner by well-meaning parents who wish to capitalize on some North American social value for their daughters, they often do represent real dating opportunities.
While many men in the West are driven to their brink and feel as though they have no option other than to expatriate, as a dual-citizen I’m caught between. It’s at the stage of my life that I wonder if I’ve been robbed of a better one. While my cousins are limited by their geography—and for many of them, a college degree and proficiency in English—I remain in the purgatory of indecision.
Should I spend the next few years working hard to build a location-independent income just to return to Europe and marry my future village bride anyway or should I take the plunge and simply live as my cousins do, open an olive oil business and grind out my days as a young family man sooner rather than later?
In the Selo, “divorce rape” is what happens to a harlot’s reputation if she dares leave you, not what happens to your wallet when a biased court system strips you of everything you own. While my closest relatives reap in the natural delights that an investment in family entails, I constantly question whether I’m really doing anything better with my life, if the celebrity I experience for being a “stranac” (ethnic foreigner with money) has any real lasting value. In the past two years, I’ve learned some new programming languages, I’ve drank some new kinds of beer and I’ve captured a handful of new flags. What else new will I really gain from another ten years of being a bachelor?
Know Your Options
Whereas in the past I was annoyed by the overt honesty and intrusiveness of village folk, I’ve since come to appreciate their open, non-chalant nature. As I grow older, I feel more and more valued in their presence. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a camgirl or Instagram Babe in North America. To tell you the truth, it feels alright. The best part is that I don’t have to strip naked while feigning allegiance to some fictitious social movement such as “body positivity” in order to prove my worth.
All a man requires to be successful here, with woman or in business, is a consistent work ethic, integrity, and a willingness to tell compelling stories. More than anything, whenever I visit the Selo I come face-to-face with the kind of life I could live if I were willing to make the commitment. This gives me a mental edge when it comes to negotiating with business partners, employers, and whatever else life has to throw at me. If all else fails, I know that I could live a life of relative splendor for next to no financial burden, even if at the expense of some of the more comfortable aspects of modernity, such as a high monthly salary, a marginally better Netflix selection and legal Marijuana.
Chuang-tzu once said that “the wise man knows it is better to sit on the banks of a remote mountain stream than to be emperor of the whole world.” I would agree and add that’s it’s better to be a poor, happy Seljak (villager) than a prostrate corporate yuppie with a 6-figure salary. If you ever have the chance to visit your Selo, whether in Europe, Vietnam, India, or elsewhere—whether you can speak the language fluently or not—do not neglect your chance to do so. Take advantage of every opportunity. The Selo knows you best. The more you know about yourself, the less uncertain you’ll feel about your future.
Fuck the Selo for showing me what I could have yet don’t possess, but God Bless it for showing me who I am.