Today I met the Bura, Dalmatia’s favorite famous wind.
Until today, If I had to pick which of the four elements is most significant in Dalmatia, in a heartbeat I’d choose water. Where I am, in Lumbarda on Korčula island, nearly everything revolves around the sea. It’s a maritime culture. People boat, fish, swim, and boat some more.
The land is critical, too. It gives us two major crops: olives and grapes for wine. Dinner is covered.
But today I met the Bura. And I’m beginning to understand the importance of wind.
“Vjetar.” Wind. It’s a big deal in Croatia.
There are about nine different kinds of wind in the Adriatic region, each with its own name. The ones of consequence in Dalmatia are Maestral, Bura, and Jugo.
Maestral is a summer wind. It’s a cooling breeze that rolls off the sea on otherwise sweltering afternoons. Seaside cafes and resorts are named for it. Maestral is glamorous. It’s the breeze that tickles your sunburnt skin and shuffles through your sea-soaked hair. It’s refreshing, just right, and always wanted.
Bura, like Maestral, is a welcome wind. It blows from the north, and it’s far more powerful, reaching hurricane force in the winter months. It whips up fast and can be bitterly cold and full of drama, driving waves crashing into shore. But it’s a clean wind, clearing the air of pollen and haze, and drying laundry in a flash. Count yourself lucky if a Bura blows three times in the month of March, in a final bid for winter. That means Mother Nature must balance the books, delivering a summer of perfect weather.
For the past few days, “Bura” has been the center of conversation here. Bura is coming. The temperature will drop. The seasons will change. The locals I talk to long for this shift—when the long hard work of tourist season winds down and summer turns to fall.
The nights are already cooler, the days not quite so humid and hot. The arrival of this Bura seems to mark the true passage to autumn. After a single day of furious wind and rain, the sun will return, but temperatures will top out in the 70s. That’s a noticeable difference from yesterday, when the high hit above 80 and I stand-up paddled for hours in only a wet bikini.
Tonight, with Bura blowing still, we’ll drop down into the 50s. Did I mention I’m wearing leggings and a sweater for the first time since arriving? A warm winter blanket was just delivered to my door. (Thank you, Marija.)
Ask anyone about Jugo. They’ll tell you that’s when people get cranky. Grumpy. Aggressive, even. Jugo is a southern wind, whipping the sea into a wild chop and saturating the air with moisture. It lacks the refreshing feel of Maestral and the cleansing force of Bura. It’s an unwelcome wind. It causes headaches. It stirs up dust, dirt, and bad behavior. Local lore says that in years gone by, Jugo was used as justification in courtroom criminal defense—with success.
I have yet to experience Jugo. If I’m lucky, it will wait to blow until after I depart. But if it does come, I’ll be watching and listening. Not just to the wind, but to the people around me. Will they become cranky? Will their usual kindness crack? And to myself. Can a wind sour my mood? Will I act out or misbehave? Only Jugo knows, and for now she lies dormant.
For now, the northerly Bura is blowing.
She’s a bold, beautiful, beast of a wind. The kind you’re proud to call your friend, fierce and feisty as she may be.