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Here in Croatia, the people are mainly of the ethnicity “Slavic.” The Slavs are an ancient and numerous people who came out of what we now call Ukraine. They migrated west and south into what we now call Eastern and Southern Europe.

An historian from antiquity described them as “tall and robust, while their bodies and hair are neither very fair or blond, nor indeed do they incline entirely to the dark type, but they are all slightly ruddy in color. And they live a hard life, giving no heed to bodily comforts…”

They haven’t changed a bit. They’re big, ruddy, dark-haired people. I’m reminded of the antagonist in the movie “Highlander” but maybe that’s because I identify with the protagonist Connor MacLeod, the good-looking Scotsman with a big sword.

I like to think I could hold my own in a fight with most Europeans, except of course the Germans. Well, OK, and except the Irish because they’re crazy drunk and the Scots because they don’t care whether they live or die and the Dutch because they’re giants and the Italians because they fight dirty and maybe a few others. But I don’t fancy a fight with a Slav.

Like that ancient historian, I’ve taken note of the Croat skin color, since under the new rules it’s racist if I don’t. (But I’ve been careful not to take note of the content of their character, since under the new rules it’s racist if I do.) Their skin color is indeed neither that of a fair skinned person nor that of a person of color. It’s ruddy.

I realize I’m generalizing here, but it’s a fair generalization. In two days walking around the capital of Croatia, I’ve not seen a single person of color. Perhaps I should start inquiring in the cafes for one. “Soooooo, where do the POC’s hang in this neck of the woods?”

Maybe the Slavs are their own POC’s. Muslims conquering Southeastern Europe in the early Middle Ages enslaved the people they conquered (did you think slavery began in 1619?). Many of the conquered were Slavs — so many that the word “Slav” became the root word for “slavery.”

I detect no hard feelings today, a thousand years later, among these former-slave Slavs. They have not demanded reparations from the invading Huns who drove them west out of Ukraine nor the enslaving Muslims who conquered them from the south.

They instead seem to reserve their hostilities for one another. The Balkans are now roughly divided between Catholics and Orthodox. You and I in the undemanding comfort of American pseudo-Christianity might say, “What’s the difference? They’re both mumbo-jumbo ritualists with lots of smoke, mirrors, robes and real estate.”

But they don’t see it that way. To them, there’s a difference worth fighting over. In the breakup of Yugoslavia (a word meaning “southern Slavs”) in the early 1990’s, they killed a couple hundred thousand of themselves over this.

The Orthodox wanted to dominate the Catholics, and the Catholics wanted nothing to do with the Orthodox. They fought a war over the issue. The Catholics won the war. They became the coastal country of Croatia while the Orthodox became land-locked Serbia to the east.

While Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet, Croats now use a variation of the Roman alphabet. But they seem to have forgotten about the vowels. Their words constitute constant consonants. They have about 18 ways to say “c.”

By the way, what is now Croatia holds a treasure of Neanderthal archeological sites, especially in the northern mountains of the Istria peninsula where I’ll be hiking next week. I’ll certainly keep my eye out, since I love those guys.

I’m curious whether modern Croatians have more than the standard 2-4% Neandie DNA but I’ve been unable to find out. Maybe that’s another question for the cafe crowd after I get an acceptable answer to my question about missing POC’s.