Somewhere in Croatia, between Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Slovenian border is, to most, an ordinary back road. It winds through forests, past farmhouses and even through villages still bombed out from the war of the 1990’s. The route is nothing if not beautiful, the true embodiment of taking the scenic route.
This road, however, is known to four people by a slightly less…err…elegant name. These four people are, of course, my family, and leave it to the Elliotts to turn something majestic into a road now known to us as the Chundy 5 Hundy.
How did it get this name you might ask?
Chundy, is first, short for the slang term “chunder” which my brother and I had recently picked up having spent a week on a boat with several Australians and Kiwis. Urban Dictionary defines this particularly pleasant word as:
“Chunder means to be sick, it originates from old seafaring days when sailors would get seasick and stick their head out of the porthole in their cabin. As they did this they would shout “Watch Under” to warn people in lower cabins of the forthcoming puke. Over the years this has evolved in Chunder.”
5 Hundy is, of course, a reference to races such as the Indy 500, which, although we did not get lost enough to do 500 laps, was an apt enough description of my fathers driving through this particular stretch of back roads.
Amusing? To my father and myself in the front seats, as I had my GoPro out the window taking videos of the scenery zooming past, abso-fucking-lutely.
To my brother and mother turning green in the backseat? Unlikely, regardless of how apt a description the Chundy 5 Hundy became.
Now if you’d asked me a mere couple years prior to this trip if I’d like to have spent two weeks of my holiday on a road trip with my parents, like an average teenager I probably would have looked at you like you had two heads. However, age comes with perspective, as does nearly three years of living abroad, and here we go, I’m about to get emotional.
I miss my parents.
I’m not ashamed to admit it, anyone who lives three thousand miles from their family is lying if they say they don’t. At the time of writing, it’s two weeks from my mother’s fiftieth birthday and a little less than a month until my father’s fifty-fifth. Smack in between the two is my twenty-sixth, all of which won’t be spent together because I live on another continent.
Even in the age of FaceTime and Skype, I still miss a lot. I traded in those birthdays and family holidays to selfishly create my own memories elsewhere. However, out of that, it’s created a whole host of new memories that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. Silly ones like the Chundy 5 Hundy, beautiful ones like hiking through the serene lakes of Plitvice, and the unforgettable meal we had in Ljubljana.
I haven’t quite come around to the humour in my dad’s attempt to embarrass my brother and I at every given opportunity, but he’s right, we’re never going to see that waiter in Piran again so maybe I really should “give less of a shit” as he so elegantly puts it.
One thing I’ve certainly learned is that if you happen to be lucky enough to be able to travel with your parents, do it while you can. It will test you at times, and patience is indeed a virtue. But they changed your stinky diaper, so yes, you better goddamn wait for them to catch up when hiking up the side of a mountain.
But does there necessarily have to be some deep and meaningful lesson buried in all this about travelling with your parents and how rewarding it can be?
Could it simply be the lesson that we shouldn’t let my father drive manual on a winding road in rural Croatia?
But if you asked me if I would pass up the opportunity to do it with my family all over again?
Not one chance in hell.