The weather’s been on and off around the Pula area the past few weeks with rain and cold days interspersed with beautiful sunny days that hint of the warm weather to come. On one sunny morning Carolyn and I decided to go explore the area that surrounds our new home. Our apartment is in a neighborhood called Pješčana Uvala which means “sandy cove” in English. It sits next to the Soline Forest Park, a protected forest of holm or holly oaks, that skirts the shores of the Adriatic. These holm oaks are a native species in the Mediterranean and are one of the top three trees used in the establishment of truffle orchards. They also produce edible acorns that wild pigs like to eat.
So you didn’t sign up to this blog for a natural science lesson, right? The reason I’m giving you this information is that our landlord had just been telling us the evening before that the forest next to us had a lot of wild pigs and not to go out at night into the forest as they could be aggressive, but he said during the day was fine. In fact, Soline Park has a well-marked path throughout the forest with educational kiosks for families with kids, so I don’t think it is a dangerous place to go. Still knowing about the overabundance of wild pigs did get our attention, especially coming from South Louisiana where my two brothers-in-law are always relaying tales of wild pigs in the marshes and how mad they get when you encounter them with their babies.
As we walked along the trail beside the beautiful clear Adriatic waters, we noticed in a few places the mud looked stirred up like something had been rooting through it. The path went deeper into the forest and got a little darker as the vegetation got thicker and areas of the stirred up mud got more frequent. We joked that these wild pigs must be everywhere.
Being the adventurous women that we are, we saw a path up the hill that was filled with limestone rocks and was wider, almost like a small road, so we decided to climb up it to get a view of the whole area. The holm oak forest sits on Soline Hill.
As we ascended the hill, we saw old abandoned houses and huge rosemary bushes in bloom and were marveling at the abandoned beauty of the trail when we heard something strange. A buzzing sound. Not just a little buzzing though. A loud buzzing. I looked at Carolyn perplexed. “Do you hear that?” I said. Her eyes got wide and she said, “Yes, what is it?” We walked a little further and we came upon this sight.
So what does an old truck in the middle of nowhere have to do with the buzzing sound? Take a closer look.
It’s a truck full of bee hives!
Besides olive oil, wine, and truffles, Croatia is also known for its honey or “med” as it is called in Croatian. As luck would have it, we had stumbled upon a mobile apiary out in the middle of the Soline Forest area alive with a huge number of bees buzzing around it. The early blooming rosemary plants are one of the places you can find honeybees this early in the season in Croatia. So the rosemary bushes we had passed in the area may have been the reason the apiary was sitting there buzzing with hundreds of honeybees. There is even a rosemary honey that is sold in Croatia, so I am interested in tasting it now.
But you are probably wondering why I made such a big deal about the wild pigs at this point. What about the pigs?
As we began to walk past the mobile apiary and take a picture of the view from the top of the hill I looked down and saw hoof prints. Hoof prints from wild pigs. Walking a little further we came upon some brush and heard a low, deep growling sound. Whatever it was growling, it wasn’t happy with us. And it wasn’t a dog growling, I know what that sounds like. At this point, I have to admit, I was a little scared. I’m pretty sure Carolyn was, too. So we took off walking very fast back down the hill until we met up with the regular park path. We didn’t wait to see if it was a wild mama pig, or a wild daddy pig for that matter. We had had enough excitement for one day.