Wednesday, July 2, 2008

August 17 Guče Selo CROATIA to Srpske Moravice CROATIA 34 K / 21 Miles, Visiting My Maternal Grandmother's Home village

Today was the day to head to my maternal grandmother's home territory, Srpske Moraviče, Serbian Moraviče. It is interesting that my Slovenian granparents and my Serbian grandmother grew up in villages only 15 to 20 miles apart. My maternal grandfather, Jovo Kekich was from Gospič in Lika County 100+ miles south in Croatia.

From Guče Selo I cycled along the Kupa River for 10K and then the road went up steeply for miles, really steep. In Donja Dobra I met a Croatian man I conversed with who just could not figure out Americans. "Why would you want to live with so many different kinds of people?". I found my way to Moraviče, a good sized railroad town, took photos, but I was a little timid at this point because I knew there were tensions between Serbians and Croatians. And since the wars in the 1990's Srpske Moraviče is no longer called Srpske Moraviče, but just Moraviče. Anyway, on the way down to Moraviče I had spotted an Orthodox Church (St George) so I headed back up to it to shoot photos and check out the cemetery. While there I meet an old man who gives me a tour of the cemetery pointing out the family names I am giving him. He then leads me to the priest's home where the priest is not home but his wife and one son begin to contact half the village. Then a 200 year old book is brought out with the church records of births, deaths, and marriages. One man, Lazar Dragovich scans through the book for my family. Another man, Nikola Jaksič, (who has worked at Waltz Mill Westinghouse) speaks English and translates the conversation. Another man Branko turns out to be my God-Mother Mildred Vudragovich's first cousin. Since I knew my Grandmother's parents names were Simo Vuchčovič and Angelja Petrovič they could find my family line in the book all the way back to 1791.

I was about to leave and cycle back to Guče Selo when the priest arrived with his other son and they told me to cycle down the road a 100 meters and a lady would be waiting for me. I head down the road and sure enough there is a lady who leads me into her house and introduces herself and her husband. They are Nedekko and Ljubica Ceravič, first cousins of my God.Mother Mildred Vudragovich(Nee Widich). Well, in comes Nedekko's brother Simo and wife, Simo's 2 grandchildren, and Simo's other daughter Marta and her Croatian husband Zlonko (who speaks perfect English as well as Italian, Spanish, and 3/4 French). So now I have a translator. There is alot of food, and laughs, and stories, and history lessons, and slivovitsa.

After nearly 12 hours of conversation I am invited to stay at the Ceravič's overnight.

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