According to a receipt I've just found while trying to sort my papers, it was 37 minutes past midnight, on the 12th of July in 2016 when I bought a chicken tortilla from a shop on the seafront in Makarska. I remember that most of the sauce dripped onto my shirt, as I tried to dance salsa to the house music coming from a nearby club.
I remember keeping time with the music, as fast as it was. Then again, I'd had a few pints of the local beer earlier that evening, so I might be wrong. I was with a friend, and she was my reason for being in Croatia in the first place. From my perspective, a friend needed me, and I got a plane to Croatia without a second thought. Well, if I'm honest, there was a second thought, a third thought, a fourth and so on... but I got on the plane anyway.
It was in a bar in the town square that I'd consumed large amounts of the local beer. The bar had been quite a find. Actually, it was recommended by a guide I'd downloaded to the e-book reader I'd brought with me. There was little room inside, but plenty of tables outside.
There was something about drinking at a table in the town square... It was a nice, warm and pleasant evening. The beer tasted much better than I thought it would. Importantly, I was with a friend who'd reached a similar level of inebriation. There was a lot of laughter: some of it from me. It felt good to be away from everything that had been dragging me down, in the company of one of my very best friends.
It was only when the bar was closing that we decided to leave, via the seafront, and I saw somewhere that was still serving food. While I was waiting for my order, my friend started swaying to the music from the nearby club and reminded me that I'd recently started to take salsa lessons - well, five months earlier, to be precise. She wanted to learn some basic steps. In retrospect, the conditions weren't ideal, and I probably wasn't the best person to teach her.
"1-2-3... 5-6-7... 1-2-3... 5-6-7..."
I could barely keep up with the music. I was struggling to even count in time with the music. I got the numbers out of order a few times, due to the alcohol in my bloodstream. Somehow, I picked out a salsa rhythm in a hard house track. With a chicken tortilla in my hand, I demonstrated the basic forward step, back step, cucarachas and opening out step.
It was the early hours of the morning; I was in a beautiful country; I was with a friend; to be honest, I was quite drunk, but I was dancing. I didn't care about the sauce dripping onto one of my favourite shirts. It felt good. I thought, in that moment, that I should have more moments like that in my life.
I guess that my enthusiasm was contagious. My friend said she wanted to learn salsa. She managed to imitate the basic steps I was showing her. I looked around me a few times. The reflection of the moon was rippling across the water; above, the stars were clearly visible; not far away, a party was going on into the early hours of the morning. There I was, moving to the music with a great big smile on my face.
On the seafront in Makarska, under the stars, so drunk that I could barely stand, I fell in love with dancing.