Monday, June 30, 2008

August 18 Srpske Moravice CROATIA to Guče Selo CROATIA 67 K / 44 Miles,

I begin the day eating breakfast with Nedekko while listening to a cassette of American music from the 1970's. "I can't live if living is without you....".

Today I will cycle to my maternal grandmother's village, Donja(lower) Vuchcoviči. So Nedekko draws me a map and I am on my way. A quick lesson here: I learned yesterday that Srpske Moraviče is not just the railroad town but a small region comprised of 27 villages. Each village carries a family name, thus Vuchcoviči (my grandmother's village), Petroviči (my great-grandmother's village, Vučiniči, Careviči, etc. I also had learned that Serbian families assumed a knickname to distinguish themselves from other Serbians with the same last name. It was discovered that my grandmother's clan of Vuchcovič was known as Mateša.

I was interested to know, if possible, which house my grandmother had come from. Upon arriving in Donja Vuchcoviči I get the attention of the home owner. He doesn't know much English. He does know Italian and Dutch though. Anyway I am telling him my grandmother was a Vuchcovič from there, and he's getting the point. Then I mention Matešs and he lights up. He points up the hill and communicates that the 4th house on the left is Mateša. I cycle up a very steep lane and shake some people out, but no English-speakers. But we manage. And again, once I mention Matešs, they light up. And the woman speaking to me from the 4th house on the right is probably a long distant cousin. She says her house and the one next door are Mateša-Vuchcovič.

Next I move on to Petroviči, it is close by. Here I am walked by Branko Petrovič to the English-speakers. Here I meet Bob Vuchcovič from Englewood Florida via Croatia and Serbia. He lives part of the year at his father's homestead there in Petroviči. So Bob helps me through numerous conversations. Thanks Bob. I decide to cycle to Upper Vuchcoviči (which is actually lower). Here I find a much poorer village at, I think, a dead-end road. The people look at me like I dropped in from Mars. But again, once I utter the word Mateša, the whole village lights up. You must realize the village is maybe 10 houses. But still, they are very excited that I am identifying myself as Mateša. But the one man, the apparent chief, quickly lets me know that Mateša is Donja (lower) Vuchcoviči. Confirming that Donja Vuchcoviči is my Grandmother's home village. The people are concerned I find my way out of their village so one guy grabs a motorcycle helmet. I begin to leave and they all motion to wait. Soon I hear a motor scooter fire up and it turns out I am being escorted back to Moraviče so I do not get lost.

I then bike through Brod Moravice and back to Brod Na Kupi where I cross into Slovenia and head up the 10K climb to my paternal grandmother's home village of Nova Sela. Here I start up two conversations with very old ladies. The second lady motions to follow her to the English-speakers. Sitting around a table behind what used to be the stage-coach house are Wayne Tuttle (Canadien turned Slovene after 27 years), his girlfriend Lily and her sister. We have a wonderful chat and they encourage not to leave the area until I talk with Štaško Južnič. Štaško has written a book on the History of Kostel, the small region of my grandparents. And he is a founder of the Slovenian Genealogical Society. So since I don't get to Slovenia that often I coast back down the mountain to see if Štaško is home in the village of Fara just about 2K from the border crossing. His house is easy to find but he is not home. So I cruise through the border checkpoints again showing my passport. In Brod Na Kupi at the market I meet Zoran and Angela from Vancouver British Columbia. Zoran was born in Croatia and comes to Croatia often. A short time after we talk at the market we meet again at the restaurant and they invite me to sit and eat with them. It was a great evening and really good food.

1 comment:

  1. We are related to Matesha family so if You have any interest to know more about your roots , please call me at 212 785 7595.

    Nevenka Vuckovic