82-year old Ivan Talaja, a returnee from France, roundly ignored by the municipal and county authorities, rolled up his sleeves and employed his own hands and money to build an access road to his native village of Talaji near Slivno in the Imotski krajina region.

82-year old Ivan Talaja, a returnee from France, did not ask for much, just a normal road to his village. Having been roundly ignored by the municipal and county authorities, he rolled up his sleeves and employed his own hands and money to build the access road. A village cannot survive without access, and the hamlet of Talaji near Slivno in the Imotski krajina region had no adequate access route – that is until Ivan Talaja took a shovel in hand and began to build one.

“I did it all alone. Not five hours every day, just an hour or two,” says this elderly returnee who wanted only to have a suitable road to his native village. He sought the assistance of the head of the Municipality of Runovići.

“He turned me down and the county authorities also looked the other way. ‘It’s a local path,’ they said, ‘for which there is no money,'” Ivan to the RTL television station.

There was also no help forthcoming from owners of neighbouring land, all of them now city dwellers that only visit their native village on weekends and there was nothing left for him to do but take on the harsh Dalmatian karst landscape on his own.

Talaja worked on the road for a full ten years – one or two hours a day. Now, as a monument to his efforts, there is an asphalt road, paved by the heavy machinery he subsequently hired. With the authorities coming up short of cash, Ivan invested his own funds. He spent over 45 thousand euros of his own money in paving the five hundred metres of road and installing the attendant road signs and other development. There are, it appears, things that are more valuable to him than money.

“I have fulfilled all my dreams in life. If I die tomorrow I shall not complain,” he says.

Ivan Talaja and his late wife have three daughters living in France. The youngest, Anita, is very proud of her father. “I am proud. He has invested great effort and am happy to see this road as his legacy,” she says.

But Ivan is not done yet. He plans to further develop the road and make it a showcase in the Imotska krajina region.
(Fenix Magazin)