Life in Ljubljana seems to be happening mostly outdoors. Even the tiniest café, bistro or restaurant seems to have a terrace. There are also benches to sit on all over town. Just so. People sit on them. Just so. With the inevitable ice cream or without. People use the benches. People enjoy being outside. There are even blankets and toys for children in some cafés and nobody seems to mind the children’s laughter and playing. People gather. Friends meet. Strangers talk in cafés over shared tables. Place is too crowded? Doesn’t happen.
Sounds like a dream. Unreal. Laid back. Until the open public space becomes awkward. Like tonight.
I was served my nachos with various dips when a woman approached my table. A pedestrian. Mid fourties. Clad in unobtrusive beige and mud tones.
Woman (speaking Slovenian, I assume): Przlkavoskoleinkjbibjhebrjt?
Woman (pointing to my nachos): What is this?
Me (completely caught by surprise): Nachos. Like crackers.
Woman (a bit daft): What?
Me (something between unnerved and unfriendly in my wish to start eating): Mexican wheat crackers.
Woman (mumbling): I want to try them…
And then she reaches out to my bowl of nachos!!
Like a shadowy thin arm that reaches through the window into a children’s room by night. And before she can grabble at my food, I hold on to my bowl of nachos for dear life – half crouching over it – in fear of germs, reaching out a single one for her to take.
She eats it, mumbles something in a foreign tongue and vanishes.
The couple sitting next to me are rolling on the floor laughing. They apologise, saying that this was not a common Slovenian habit to great strangers. We giggle for a while and clink glasses over the absurdity of the moment.
Guess I’ll go back to the place with the mischievous advisor on the assorted craft beer.