Goodbye Britain, Ukraine beckons once more

I got up very early to catch the train for Liverpool so I could then grab the bus for Manchester Airport. Along the way, we got caught in rush hour traffic heading into Manchester.

Once we arrived, I was chagrined to find that the gate for my flight on Singapore Airlines to Munich had closed. I had missed it by a few minutes. With no options available to me, I had to buy another ticket to Munich leaving at 5:30 p.m.–for $400. I was livid.

For the next seven hours I sat in a coffee shop with wifi and surfed the Net, occasionally nodding off. I ate a couple of puff pastries, one filled with steak and gravy, the other with sausage. Eventually, the time came to board my flight.

It was rainy and chilly in Manchester, just as it had been in Liverpool. I didn’t mind it a bit. Four months of extreme heat and humidity gets quite old and the weather in Britain made me a bit homesick for Oregon.

Arriving in Munich, I caught a cab for the hotel. It was after 9:00 p.m. and I was hungry. I saw a guy enter the hotel with a pizza box. After a few queries, I found out there was a pizza parlor about twenty-five yards from the hotel. I walked over in the rain and was told it was closed. Seeing my dripping wet as I had left my warm clothes and coat in Italy, the barmaid and cook said I could order a pizza.

I don’t know, maybe it was because I was famished. Maybe it was because I found out the proprietors were Italian, but it was one of the best pizzas I ever had in my life.

While waiting for my pizza, my mind wandered. I heard the barmaid chatting but wasn’t paying attention, just assuming that she was speaking German. Then I picked up some Italian words.

“Italiani?” I asked.

“Si. E’ le?” she responded.

“Mezzo Italiano, Vivo in Abruzzo vicino San Benedetto. Io ho familia in Marche.”

When she found out I was half Italian, living in Italy with family nearby, the barmaid practically shrieked with excitement. As everyone else in Europe has done, she asked why I was living in Italy. And, once again, I gave her the crib note version of my life.

Tearing up, eyes widened, she excitedly explained to her husband, the cook, what I had just told her. I gave her my card and told her it was possible to read part of my story online. Since she knew no English, she promised she would have her daughter read it and tell her what it said.

The pizza arrived from the kitchen and I paid for it. Still emotional, she thanked me profusely, as did her husband. I walked out of the restaurant shaking my head over their responses. I flashed back to a Syrian couple I met at the Munich Airport a few days earlier and how both became emotional and excited for me when I shared my experience. These one-on-one experiences I was having about my book and my family search were really impacting people everywhere I went in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Now if I could just get Hollywood to take notice!

The next day I got up early, wolfed down the plentiful breakfast provided by the hotel and caught a shuttle to the airport. I flew from Munich to Warsaw. In Warsaw I had just forty minutes to catch my connecting flight to Lviv. Fortunately, the flight was delayed so I made it in time. I was in no mood for another missed flight and another expensive one-way ticket.

I’m back in Lviv now. I want to see my new family one more time before returning to North America. I especially want to see my eighty-year-old cousin, Zenovyi, one more time. I want him to know that I will be a part of their family as long as they want. Once I’m back in Oregon, the job search will begin in earnest and I don’t know how long it will take before I find employment. I calculate that it will be at least a year before I accrue enough vacation to return to Europe to see everyone again, in Italy and Ukraine.

Walking around Lviv felt so comfortable. Last time I spent four weeks here. This time I’m scheduled, tentatively, for two weeks. However, I have no flight back to Italy reserved so I’m open-ended. This will allow me to be flexible.

As I walked around the streets, I was once again swept away by the majesty of this unknown city. Marveling over the architecture of the buildings, walking by the restaurants and cafes I enjoyed all gave me a sense of comfort. Tonight I had kebabs and a beer with my old Airbnb host, Edward. It was great and helped to make me feel at home.

I do hope to accomplish a bit more research while I’m here. Last time, I went to my maternal grandfather’s hometown of Kuty. That was how I found these distant family members and also got copies of letters from my ancestors.

This time around, I want to visit once again, Rozwaz (pronounced “ROZ vowsh”), the hometown of my maternal grandmother. I will use the same modus operandi as my previous visit. I will go to the church and try to get an audience with the local priest because the churches are the best bet for finding genealogical information.

Last time we were here, we were able to speak with someone–I believe it might have been the housekeeper–at the priest’s house. Unfortunately, he was not home. The rest of the troupe didn’t seem to be terribly interested in pursuing things so I kinda shrugged my shoulders and we left. However, in the back of my mind was the nagging desire to get as much information about our ancestors as possible.

I would like to find out (if possible) what World War I was like from local memory. I’d like to know if anyone remembers my grandmother’s family. Something tells me that my efforts might be futile. But, since I’m here and I have the time, shouldn’t I at least try?

I know that I said I was done with the adoption thing. And that is true. However, I see this as merely completing the research I did back in March and April. I will see if my former host, Ed, can make a call to the local padre in Rozwaz and find out if he has any information on my grandmother’s family—Dlugosh. Apparently, it’s a very popular Polish name.

I do know that, after World War I, Poles were repatriated to the newly created nation of Poland and Ukrainians were brought down to Galicia, an area that became part of the Soviet Union and, now, Ukraine. Chances are there is more information in Poland.

That’s where the adoption research will stop. I really don’t have the desire to go back to Poland and start searching. I have a feeling that Dlugosh is about as prevalent in Poland as Jones is in America. And I don’t have the time to paw through yet more archives. I’m tired!

At the very least, I get to spend some more time with my new relatives, savor the splendors of Lviv and maybe even get to Odessa to see the Russian friends I made as time winds down on this expat European experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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