I’ve been here four times. This is my fourth time.
Before I got here, I started up in Zagreb, Croatia. I went to the beautiful lakes there. I do some photography so I really wanted to do it although I can’t walk really great, but I did manage to walk ten miles in two days. That’s probably why I can’t do as much right now.
And then I went down to Split by a bus and got a boat and went to Hvar and then I went to Korčula and then I got another boat and I was in Dubrovnik and I met all the pilgrims there.
My family, they didn’t really want me to come. In fact, they were getting a little adamant about it. But my determined nature, I just said, “Well, the more they say that, the more I’m going to do it, just to prove that a lady of 83 can do it with a bad back.”
It’s been such an adventure. It’s sort of humbling because I actually do have to have people help me to a certain extent. So you’re sort of dependent, and I’ve never been like that. But it’s humbling to know the goodness of people everywhere. I mean, somehow people would come up and say, “I’ll take you up this ramp. I’ll take care of your baggage. I’ll sit with you.” They bought me a coke! It’s just humbling.
I cannot do everything that everyone’s doing, but I don’t care. Our Lady’s here so it doesn’t really matter.
The first time I came, we stayed in Mirjana’s house. We were on the third floor. They had the second floor and the kitchen was down below. So for, I don’t know how many years, she and her family were serving and her kids were serving us food.
I came, I wanted to be by myself, but that’s not God’s plan. They didn’t have enough separate rooms so there were three of us and two of them were young gals so I became kind of their dorm mother. They kept me up at night talking all the time. Then the electricity went out. I don’t think they ever got that fixed. [laughs] I mean, it was an experience. I felt for Mirjana and her family because they were living in the middle and we were tromping up and down. I don’t know how she did it for all those years.
And then, in the morning, you’d look out the window and here’s all these Italians and you can’t get out. Mirjana goes out there and talks to them. Just so gracious, a very gracious person. Then, right after that, they finally stopped doing that and started building the hotel.
I felt privileged that I was able to be in that group; that I could be in her home. But I did feel for them. I mean, how would you like to have people tromping in your house all year, and you’re serving them food. You don’t have any privacy. Goodness sakes. I feel she’s so very genuine. That’s one of the things that got me. Just down to earth and very kind, a very nice person.