No. 6 – Big Beach Clean-up in Duga Luka

I’ve picked up a hobby from my dad as I’ve gotten older. It’s called “toolin’ around.” The formal definition of toolin’ around is to depart in a vehicle without a particular destination, meander around looking for something new and interesting, and then see where the little adventure takes you. Toolin’ around is great fun when you’re in a new place and have no idea what lies beyond the next bend in the road.

Alison has been my toolin’ around buddy since we’ve been in Croatia. She and I will leave to go to the store, but on the way there we take some turns we haven’t taken before. A few days ago we had a particularly successful toolin’ around session. After taking a little side road we came upon a gorgeous overlook. A small village sat below us, nestled into a green peninsula which jutted out into the sea. Silhouettes of the Adriatic islands rose up in the distance.
Overlook to Duga Luke
We drove down into the town of Duga Luka, then parked and walked around the streets a bit to see if we could find a way down to the shore. Eventually we found a staircase leading to the water.
Ali on rocks on Duga Luka After exploring in the rocks for a while, we happened to see a trail in the trees along the water. Ali led us along the path which snaked its way through the dense forest just above the rocky shoreline.
Duga Luka Trail
Ali in woods at Duga Luka
We came upon some decaying ruins, so we stopped to explore. One building was particularly interesting with a large round cylinder-shaped room in the middle. Ali decided that’s where ancient people “put all the bad guys.”
Duga Luke ruins
When the path opened back up to the water, we inadvertently encountered a pack of nude snorkelers. Needless to say we did NOT stop to explore this time. (Note the lack of photos.) Ali was oblivious and I was trying my best to keep it that way. Although, Croatia has quite a bit of nudity in unexpected places, so she’s probably used to it at this point.

As we made the turn to the eastern side of the peninsula, we began to see plastic bottles and styrofoam scattered across the landscape. The further we walked, the more dense the litter became. We were curious as to how it had washed so far up the steep, jutting rocks from the shoreline below us. Ali’s theory: “Mama, maybe this is just where people like to keep their old bottles and stuff.”

When we got home and told Brian, Liv and Emily about our little adventure, we decided our family would all go back and address the litter problem in this beautiful place. The project wound up requiring serious work sessions on two different days to clear out all the debris we found. On Day 1 we started off with a package of 15 trash bags, but we quickly realized we would need many more. A lot of time was spent crushing bottles down so we could fit as much as possible into each bag. After the first 15 bags were full we spent time collecting all the trash and putting it into large piles so it would be ready for easy pick up when we came back.

Day 2 we came prepared with another 30 bags. We took care of the big piles we’d created and then began looking for other pieces we’d missed. The process became a little addictive. There was always one more piece of Styrofoam somewhere or another bottle hiding behind a rock. Brian and I finally had to pull ourselves away before the kids mutinied on us.

Over the two days we filled 39 trash bags with plastic bottles, broken flip flops, chunks of foam, aerosol cans and some things we couldn’t identify. On both days, the 15-minute walk back up the trail was a bit of an arm-burner as we carried everything out to Duga Luka’s recycling and trash bins located about a kilometer away.

Beach cleanup hike out

It was hot, sweaty work, but it was worth it. The difference we made in the landscape was pretty amazing and very rewarding. We were proud of our little crew for taking on this massive task. It was fun to see something so productive come from just toolin’ around.
Family each clean up

About the Author

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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  1. It’s absolutely so rewarding when you can visibly SEE the difference some hard work can make! Great job, all of you! ( And of course it’s the kind of project close to my heart!)

  2. Solid work! A little trash portage out to build the muscles and cleaning up what looks like an already gorgeous landscape. Really enjoying your quest, guys…

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