Igor Hajdarhodžić Shocks Tourists on Lokrum

By 4 July 2016

Not everything needs to be commercialized. Lokrum is a proof.

Each year, there are more and more commercialized venues in Dubrovnik – beaches, public areas, etc. – so it sounds incredible that on one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean there is a free workshop for children at the location where someone could be making a lot of money. It is a shipbuilding school for children at the Forest Ranger’s House on Lokrum, which was launched last year by a conservator from the Museums of Dubrovnik Željko Ćatić, versatile sea lover Matea Šabić Sabljić and actor, musician and graduate ship-lover Igor Hajdarhodžić, reports Dubrovački Dnevnik on July 4, 2016.

They came up with the idea to teach the children of ​​Dubrovnik the shipbuilding skills, especially for building old(er) ships, such as Dubrovnik galleys. Children Ante and Rafael Miličević, Marta, Pula and Đive Čatić, Janko and Vito Šutalo, Roko Sain, Marin Radić, Antoan Špilar, Andrija Vukšić, Karlo Šarenac, Damjan Martić, Petar Kačić, Antun Poković and Baldo Petar Tutman have already made one boat, while the other will soon be finished.

The whole concept of this praiseworthy project was conceived on the principle of being free – the Lokrum Reserve, headed by director Mario Tevšić, made available the Forest Ranger’s House, so children do not have to pay anything and in return they receive an amazing experience (the Museums of Dubrovnik also provided support). Not only do they learn how to build boats, but they also socialize, develop skills in the use of tools and old building methods, which is all particularly important in this information age in which we live.

Tourists only a few meters away have no idea what is going on in a small cove, and a few who see the boats sometimes approach and ask if they can be rented and at what price. “They cannot rent them”, replies Igor Hajdarhodžić, “but can be used free of charge.” Tourists think that Igor is kidding, so they take the boat, tour Lokrum, and when they come back, they take their wallets out, but Igor did not lie, the whole experience really is completely free. On one occasion, Hajdarhodžić even invited a couple for free smelts. They could not believe what had occurred.

“The people were shocked”, says Hajdarhodžić, “simply because they could not believe that they received a free ride and free fish. Wherever they go, everybody is trying to take from them as much money as possible, so they were positively shocked when on Lokrum they stumbled upon a completely different story.

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And soon many other tourists might encounter similar stories, completely opposite to the ones they are accustomed to in popular tourist destinations such as Dubrovnik, where nothing is ever free. “There are various ideas for Lokrum, which I hope will be implemented, like a free library. We would bring books in various languages to the monastery on Lokrum, and the visitors could borrow them during their stay and read them for free, and return them later. We would give priority to books about the history and culture of Dubrovnik, so that visitors could also learn something”, says Hajdarhodžić, who adds that he is normally disgusted with politics, but that in the director of Lokrum Mario Tevšić he found a man who is very open to these and similar ideas. Among other things, sculpting workshops are also being planned, where artists would produce sculptures made of olive trees, but also a number of other cultural activities.

If some of these ideas are implemented in the near future, Lokrum will demonstrate that it is possible to have a different kind of tourism, one in which tourists can engage with local population in the common joy, without mentioning euros. Lokrum is now on the right track – a proof that you do not need to look at everything through money and profits. The Forest Ranger’s House could have been leased at market price for canoes, pedal boats and scooters rentals, but why, when this is a much better solution?

Laughter of children we met on Lokrum says it all – they enjoy making boats, swimming and socializing with each other – and in this way they are being taught proper life values. Many people have noticed that on Lokrum, time passes very differently than in the city, and the stress does not exist. As soon as you step on the island, an invisible eraser removes all this negative energy. It is nice to see that Lokrum has not been defeated by commercialization and still offers – and we hope that it will remain so in the future – pure joy of blending with nature.

“This island is unique, and we have to preserve it from commercialization. Culture should be a priority for Lokrum”, says Hajdarhodžić while looking at children listening to instructions given by Željko Ćatić. In the background, you can hear crickets shouting against seagulls and swallows – a pure perfection and a real “nirvana”.