lost in translation
We had arranged with the people we’d bought the house from, that while everything else they had left in the house could be removed, we’d keep the kitchen white goods until we were able to replace. They would then go to family in Rijeka. All great – we were able to cook after a fashion (one electric ring on an otherwise gas cooker, but no gas canister), we’d had the dishwasher serviced and it was working great (a bonus as the kitchen tap needed to be replaced and we had no running water) and the washing machine was about to take its first load. We’d had a text from the brother of the woman who sold us the house – we’d got to know the family quite well by now – and he was going to come over to the house to “help” us. This had all been discussed previously and we were grateful of the offered help, as quite a lot of heavy things still needed moving etc.
He arrived, with a friend and white van, as the dishwasher was whirring away. And that was when it all went a bit pear-shaped. He hadn’t understood that the white goods were to stay until replaced – he had heard the term “white goods” and thought they were to be removed. Now. With his friend who he was paying to do the removal with him. In England, we would have reacted very differently, but already the Croatian attitude of mañana, mañana, mañana was beginning to permeate. Lack of language, of the depth necessary to negotiate the white goods being left, and the fact that we were going to replace them anyway, meant a dishwash switched off mid-cycle and a fridge and freezer being emptied. We had experienced the friendliest heist, ever 😉 So, with a depleted kitchen and fast defrosting food, we had only one answer – buy the white goods we needed!
We’d hired a Fiat Doblo, so figured we could at least fit a fridge and cooker in the back, get them fitted and go back the next day for the dishwasher and washing machine. A good plan, we thought to ourselves as we set off on the trip to Pula, in the south. We’d discovered Pevec a few days before – a heady shopper’s paradise mix of B&Q, Habitat, IKEA and any major electrical store. It even has a restaurant and a bar. A hair salon is the only thing missing to make it quite perfect. As well as the white goods, we spotted a very natty sofa bed which we agreed we’d get at a later date. So, oven (all electric too – the one thing we were told we’d never get in Croatia!) and fridge and dishwasher ordered and paid for and off we went, to the collection point. We knew that we’d only get one thing in the car by this point, so we figured we’d take the oven and have the other two delivered. Cue much Esperanto style discussion as we tried to arrange delivery in English, Croatian and Italian. However, we got there – and even agreed that the the oven should be delivered too, even though it meant another two days of no white goods. We decided to kill two birds with one stone, and as were paying for delivery, decided to go for the washing machine and sofa bed too, as we’d be just be returning at a later date.
As all of this was happening, a very nice couple, who had just bought some palettes of beautiful tiles, drove off with their purchases and behind us, a huge articulated delivery lorry waited patiently for us to drive off. And, although we were leaving empty-handed, despite our high hopes for a car full of white goods, we were happy that two days later, we’d be fully kitted out again. Off we set – although we didn’t get too far, as there was the most horrendous crunching and scraping sound from underneath the car. Panicked staff ran from all directions, and the lorry driver was out of his truck and down on his knees, flapping his arms for us to STOP! The lovely couple, who had bought the lovely tiles, had only gone and left a few palettes of tiles, which they couldn’t fit into their car, right in front of ours. And, because the Doblo has a high front, we couldn’t see them and so had driven straight over them, dragging mangled tiles under the car…
Again, we’d have dealt with all very differently back in England, but it’s difficult to argue the toss about the rights and wrongs of smashed tiles and who is responsible, when you’ve really only got as far as pleasantries in Croatian. The lorry driver was a super-hero however – he rescued all of the intact tiles and the sorry pile of smashed ceramics wasn’t quite as bad as the noise would have suggested. Luckily, also, tiles in Croatia, even very beautiful, designery, tiles are quite inexpensive and so we just replaced a couple of boxes. As the lorry guy said, “Sometimes shit just happens…”
All’s well that ends well though, and two days later, our delivery guys arrived at the house and we were the owners of shiny new white goods and a very big sofa bed. Plus, buying household goods out here, is so much less expensive than back in the UK – these purchases in England would have left us wincing at the cost, but not so here. So, although the experience started because of a language misunderstanding, followed by a potential nightmare with tiles and a hire car (which was, unbelieveably unscathed), it all worked out rather well in the end…