Six summers ago I found myself visiting with my dear friends Cordelia and Zlatan and along the way, I found a long-lost cousin from Poland. The place of the encounter would be Piran, Slovenia. It was my first summer in Italy and so I took a seven-hour train ride from Turin to Trieste and from there a bus to Slovenia. When I arrived in Piran my phone wasn’t working for some reason, so I decided to visit the local post office for some assistance. There are a plethora of winding streets in the town of Piran and so the postman decided to walk me to my destination himself. When Cordelia answered the door we laughed about my lack of a sense of direction but in spite of my shortcomings I can be fairly resourceful when it comes to situations like these.
Whenever I visit with Cordelia and her family there are at least three languages spoken simultaneously: Serbian, Swiss-German and English; sometimes French and Italian too. Turns out that Serbian and Polish have a similar root origin.
My cousin Ania drove down with her boyfriend from Vienna the next day. It was an emotional reunion to say the least. My grandparents left Poland in 1938 for Manila. Both sides of the family endured incredible hardships. We are the grandchildren of the survivors of WWII. There were countless photos shared and we had more questions than answers…trying to figure out who was who in each and every photograph. It is my hope that Ania and I will find the time someday to catalog our family research and at the very least write a book together.
Upon returning to Turin, I extended my holiday at least one time and took another journey to visit with Cordelia and family: this time we traveled to Croatia. Upon arriving in Rome a month and a half prior, the dogana or customs agent, did not put a stamp on my passport. So, when we approached the border police in Croatia the guard took one look at me and said that he would need to question me about not having a stamp on my passport. I was in jeopardy because there was no way for him to know how long I had already been in Europe. He asked me for my airplane ticket which of course I didn’t have. Cordelia tried to come to my defense by making light of the situation but this only made matters worse. The guard did not appreciate it. Luckily, Zlatan came to my rescue and was able to speak with the guard in Croatian to explain my situation. By shear grace, the guard let me pass.
And so I reflect upon my travels after having savored a glass of Bura “Galeria” Red from Croatia. This wine is a blend, made predominantly from the indigenous Dalmatian grape Plavac Mali. It is a red wine but so deep in color that in Croatia it is commonly referred to as “black” wine. Salute!