We hit a dead end at the remains of an ancient castle tower with another well hidden in its recesses. To our left was an eye-level terraced garden, walled in stone. A woman was busy among the vivid vegetables, quietly singing to herself. Unsure where to turn next, we retraced our steps to the square and inquired of the women sitting there. One woman helpfully switched to German and then Italian, and couldn't hide her disgust when we could follow neither - but kindly persevered. I had never known shame for not knowing more languages before - but I felt it then! She eventually pointed us to the house with the singing gardener.
The woman of the house, somehow understanding what we wanted, smilingly walked us to the church. I tried my last phrase - "Vrt moj hobbi!" ("Garden my hobby"). My sister and I had noted those words on a library book cover; now they came in handy! She immediately beamed over us and blithely spilled out a new torrent of Croatian.
I had made a friend.
The church, while not magnificent, holds some excellent old frescoes, and was well worth the effort to gain admittance to. Our guide would take no payment, and declined having her picture taken. I don't know her name, and in time even her face will be erased from my memory, but she in her kindness and smiles gave me so much. That entire episode has been imprinted on my heart, become a part of who I am becoming.
As we wandered about the village, we saw so many things which intrigued and charmed us. Haystacks in stone alcoves. Impossibly narrow and twisting streets. An abandoned villa with a balcony we dubbed the 'Juliette'. A tiny ancient chapel visible through a stone arch in a Roman wall.
Sveti Lovrec was a pure delight. Everything about it for me is draped with a halo of romance and adventure. It was so much more than a starched and professional tour. It was far beyond a brochure. It was a slice of human drama placed in an incredible context.
It was one more page in the album that is Croatia.