Ukraine–dichotomies and questions

I’m thinking a lot about my ancestors in Ukraine. I’ve just finished reading Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine. Although the book sometimes was heavy on minutiae, it was a revealing text on an area about which most people in the world are unfamiliar. The only reason people now are even vaguely aware of Ukraine is due to the Russian-backed insurgents creating problems to prevent Ukraine from pursuing a NATO membership.

This area has been awash in blood for centuries. Only recently have Ukrainians been afforded the opportunity for self-government. However, inherent corruption from the Soviet system is endemic in Ukraine, too. With so much instability, Ukraine teeters on the brink. Continue reading


This ain’t “Under the Tuscan Sun”–yet I feel it

I’m home from Morocco. Been home for five days. I haven’t felt like writing which is supposedly anathema to anyone who fancies himself a writer. I’m sorry, but sometimes the spirit doesn’t move me.

I’m facing a hectic summer, something I’ve been anticipating and preparing for. One guest arriving in a few days. Guests in August and September. Another trek to Ukraine to savor my newly found family. Visits to cousins in Turin and Tuscany. Trips to Cairo, Jerusalem, Liverpool. Continue reading

Climb every mountain–the Atlas Mountains in Morocco

The advertisements for my riad included excursions available in and around Marrakech. One of these excursions included a trip to Ourika Valley. I paid twenty-five dollars to the manager of the riad and they scheduled a driver to pick me up on Thursday morning for the all-day trip.

A man arrived at my riad promptly at 9:00 a.m. He took me on his motorbike to an alley where another gentleman placed me in a taxi. From there we drove to the plaza where tour buses were lined up for the trek to the Ourika Valley and its waterfalls. Continue reading


After a night’s sleep, I was rarin’ to hit Marrakech with renewed vigor.

I woke up and went downstairs to the breakfast the hosts in my riad (a home that rents rooms, like a bnb) had prepared for me. It was minimalist–bread, pitas, soft cheese and jam. There was plenty to drink, though–Moroccan coffee, mint tea and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

I left the riad and set out to explore Marrakech. I zigged and zagged from the riad, certain that a different route would take me to the souk. My route might have done just that, but after over half an hour, I gave up, walked back to the neighborhood of my riad and took the route from the night before. Continue reading

Detour to the Marrakech Express–WOW, WOW, WOW

As I try to push thoughts of the second book out of my mind, I find myself in Marrakech, Morocco. Continue reading

Genealogical gems uncovered–in Canada

I wish I had about $50,000 more in my account.

I just found who I think are more relatives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I am quite certain they are the family of my Great-Aunt Anna, the sister to my grandfather. I found a gentleman on who had made a posting back in 1998(!), looking for Bakuns from Kuty, Ukraine who had moved to Canada. In his posting, he mentioned a “Theodore” which is plausibly my grandfather. He also stated that he had mapped out the Bakun family in Canada, something I would dearly love to see. Continue reading

Finally caught up in Europe–now back to the expat genealogical search

Now that I am officially caught up on the happenings here in Italy, it is time to turn back to my original reason for moving to Europe–genealogy.

I had written that my eighty-year-old cousin in Kuty, Ukraine, Zenovyi, produced for me letters from my grandfather, my aunt and my great-aunt that had been sent to his mother. The letters from my aunt were written in Polish, those from my grandfather and great-aunt were written in Ukrainian. Continue reading

…gradually doing the Europe catch-up…

The next posting in a series during Safari’s inaccessibility.


So now my friends, Mike and Marilee, have left for Greece. It was a whirlwind of time when they were here. They had arrived first in Venice and then went to San Marino before arriving in Ascoli Piceno. Continue reading