I stayed with some friends in a mountain hut over the weekend – about which more tomorrow – and naturally we fell into discussion with our host, a hiker from Rijeka who looks after the hut on weekends.
“And where are you all from?” she said.
“He’s from Croatia,” I began, going around our group. “And he’s from Slovenia. And he’s from France. And we’re from Australia.”
“Oh!” she said, her eyes growing wide at this last one. People are always amazed that there are Australians around. They usually exclaim about how far away it is. “Wow,” she said. “I have a cousin in Salzburg!”
There was a pause, while we all tried to make sense of this non sequitur.
“No, no,” said one of the boys. “Australia. Not Austria.”
“Oh,” she said again, and her eyes grew even more wide.
Much later she asked us why we were speaking in half Croatian, half English. We explained that we live in Zagreb and we’d all learned Croatian (more or less).
“Ah,” she said. “One of the other guests asked me if you were secret agents!”
Yes, I thought, we are secret agents from Salzburg, having a weekend away in a mountain hut. Oh, how we blend in, this group of Austrian secret agents.