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Swimming in Dubrovnik's Blue Cave: Island Hopping, Part II

There are a few things you should keep in mind as you read about how this particular sequence of events unfolded.

First, Dubrovnik is generally on the sunnier side.

Second, we just so happened to hit rainy season on our visit, and the forecast looked bleak. Because boat excursions are canceled in the event of thunderstorms, I obsessively refreshed my weather app every few hours in the days leading up to the adventure. We would remind each other to pause and collectively send all of our positive energy to the weather gods (sounds ridiculous, but we were desperate).

Somehow that worked! For the most part, the weather icon remained firmly as an angry lightning bolt - up until the morning of, when it transformed into a slightly more forgiving gray cloud. Go time!
Because it started lightly drizzling when we headed out, our captain recommended against visiting the Blue Cave first. For the most spectacular conditions, you want the sun high up in the sky so that its light hits the cave straight on. If the sun isn't feelin' it, then we'd skip the Blue Cave.

The sun decided to make an appearance when we were admiring Sipan's rustic charm - and then it really showed off once we were laying out like beached whales on the hot, soft sands of Lopud's Sunj Beach. We falsely believed that once the sun came out, it wouldn't be going anywhere; and so when the sky subtly darkened, we reluctantly dragged ourselves away from paradise and made a break for our waiting vessel.

We raced over to the Blue Cave - music blasting, seawater drenching us as Loren expertly cut through the deep blue sea. Once there, we suddenly froze.
Typically, the Blue Cave is overcrowded with tourists. 

But due to the weather, there was literally no one else there.

The water level was higher than usual, and rockier as well - again, because of the brewing storm. The responsible thing here would have been to count this jaunt a loss and head home. But! (Mom, stop reading!) Loren encouraged us to go for it. 

"You'll regret it if you don't make the jump," he remarked very wisely, like our very own fortune cookie. We looked at each other apprehensively, and then Leah - the most water-obsessed one of us - dove into the water. The rest of us followed shortly after, jumping in before letting ourselves think too much of it.

To be honest, on a normal day this wouldn't have been quite as dramatic of a tale. But given that we were alone in the middle of nowhere, with no idea what to expect on the other side of the little cave opening high enough only for our heads - well, we were all feeling slightly shaky. But we trudged forward, Hanna kindly holding my hand.
We brought a GoPro, but the pictures didn't turn out - likely because our focus was on staying alive.

But it's breathtaking inside: you swim in as far in as you're able, and when you turn around to face the entrance, you're met with an expanse of iridescent turquoise. There are some places in this world and some moments in this lifetime that can't adequately be captured by any means other than your very own five senses. Well. A better photographer, a better writer might possibly; but I certainly can't.

This is one of those places, one of those moments. And not necessarily for its beauty, but for its sheer existence: this tiny, hidden cave right off the coast of Croatia that naturally burns the iciest of blue even though it doesn't seem like it could be natural at all. For that fleeting feeling of awe that doesn't ever come so easily, I'm grateful we took the risk and forged ahead into a literal hole of blackness.

And then!

All the treading water had me exhausted, the badly-fitting goggles had me feeling claustrophobic, and the walls of the cave and the depth of the sea seemed more daunting. 

"Guys?! I just want you know - sometimes, my heart stops beating a little bit."

Cassandra rushed to support me with her legs under me, but then her now inability to tread water had her freaking out about the unknown below her. Meanwhile, Leah is darting under and above the water at Cassandra's request, scoping out sea creatures for us. 

"...I found you all a ledge," Hanna called out nonchalantly in the midst of all the madness. Sure enough we look over and she's just casually clutching onto the side of the cave. She made room for the rest of us and we braced the wall, soaking in the incredulity of it all.
The open sea was that much more calming when we exited the cave.

Not wanting to leave quite yet, we floated in the Adriatic with Donna the Donut, drinks in hand. It really was such a peaceful place to be - no one around us, raindrops falling rhythmically, the sea stretching to meet the pastel sky. We were so far removed from the chaotic trivialities of our everyday lives, a state of mind I'll always cherish.
At last, it was time for our trek back to the shores of Dubrovnik. When we scrambled back into the boat, Loren looked at us with an impressed nod,
"I was expecting to spend a much longer time convincing you to go in, but you just went for it!" So at least we had that going for us!

The rain fell harder, against the background of a gorgeous sunset.
Already wanting to fully discuss everything we'd seen and experienced, we speedily changed into dry clothes on the side of a pathway and spent way too much time and energy deflating the donut.
Cave Bar More was on the way home, so drinks were a must. A must!

This bar is one of our favorites in Lapad - it's in an actual cave (I guess we hadn't had enough of those...) and part of an upscale restaurant. It's a bit of the touristy side, but we couldn't say no to fruity cocktails in its cool confines.
Exhausted from an entire day in the sun and sea, and truthfully a little overly packed with a week's worth of rich foods, we decided to have a night in. We ran home in the downpour and ducked into the corner market below our Airbnb to pick up essentials.

Our dinner was nothing more than buttered noodles, a simple salad, cheese and salami, somun bread with olive oil we'd picked up on Sipan, apple slices, and our preferred beverages.

And you know what? It turned out to be one of the best meals we had the whole trip.

(Well, that's somewhat a lie. We had a TON of amazing meals on the trip, but this one was so special as we recounted one story after another from the day we had - hiccuping and laughing until our stomachs hurt.)

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