Well, it’s been quite a few weeks (we were on the west coast of the Peloponnese pictured above) since I last blogged…a thousand apologies for my laziness! Actually, my laptop was playing up in Greece so I only managed to get one blog up…and then on our return home..we hit the pavement running!
But I am here now…and finally getting back into it!
The last time we chatted, I had shared with you the first week of our holiday..meeting lots of new relatives, eating lots of yummy food (olive paste on fresh village bread pictured below) and the fun we had at our very first Greek wedding in Greece.
Since that week, we travelled up to Central Greece to visit my father’s village. The town is called Karpenisi in the region of Evritania (Central Greece).
It was a winding road that felt like it was never going to end – and I kept thinking I hope this is worth it. Our first stop was to secure a room for the night. You see, we never book anything until we get to where we are going. We love an off the beaten track kind of holiday…me more than hubby…it stretches him..I tell him it’s good for him! Lol! So we find a hotel and because it’s out of season, we get a great price and the whole place to ourselves! Our host was a lovely man who as it worked out, had connections in Sydney connected to my dad.
Once we placed our bags in our rooms, it was time to go find our relatives.
Earlier this year I had participated in the Ancestry.com program and had my DNA tested to see what I was made of! I was expecting some Turkish blood mixed amongst my very Greek blood but to my surprise there was no Turkish blood in our family but there was an equal amount of Italian blood as Greek blood. Wow, now that was a huge surprise! But what was really fabulous about this outcome was a young man contacted me from the USA as a relative found on the Ancestry database! This young man and I had made contact and his grandmother and grandfather (pictured below) still lived in Karpenisi and he asked me would I go visit them, besides they were somehow relatives of ours…even if they were very distant ones.
The kind gentleman from the Hotel took us to the home of our relatives as we had no idea where to go and just as well, we went all over the place before we arrived and had no idea where we were! But then a beautiful warm greeting from these relatives put us at ease and they showed us around to their patio where we sat under the grape vine and cooled down with a glass of water.
As we sat there chatting, they asking me about my parents and our life in Australia and informing me that in fact we were not distant relatives but my Aunt was first cousins with my dad! But the most shocking news was when talking about my dad they stopped me half way through my sentence and said, “Is your father alive?” They thought he had died years ago and had no idea that not only was he still alive but his health was very good too. The smiles that spread across their faces was priceless!
My newfound relatives then took us to visit the small village called Milia (pictured below) where my father grew up before visiting some first cousins whom I had never met. Wow, such warmth to be greeted by people who you didn’t know but welcome you with open arms. It sure makes up for the times I felt like I had missed out by living in another country to my relatives.
They briefly shared with me the historic events surrounding the death of my grandfather. I was aware of some details but they went on to give me more information.
It was during the Greek Civil War, my grandfather was of one political persuasion. He had some cousins who were of another political persuasion. They had murder on their minds, and one afternoon led my father’s sister and his father to their deaths. They were brutal deaths – I hadn’t been given these details until now. But one does wonder how flesh and blood can turn on their own flesh and blood? Why? Because of politics? Life is complicated!
I was saddened to hear these stories and it gave me a deeper understanding of why my father struggled to live a harmonious life with his wife and family. You don’t witness that kind of brutality and go on your merry way.
But what I did get to do was view some pictures of relatives who had passed on many decades ago such as my grandmother’s father (pictured above). I was told he was a lovely quiet man who worked hard in the fields. I remember my father telling me he had a lamb as a pet given to him by his grandfather – now I knew who he was referring to.
Growing up in a country without many relatives around you, never meeting 3 of your 4 grandparents including many aunties, uncles, cousins etc.. it leaves you wondering many a times what life would have been like if you did have them around you? What would it have been like to have all your relatives gather with you at your Easter celebrations, going to church together, celebrating birthdays together?
But I cannot complain – I have lived in one of the best countries in the world with a steady economy, the best beaches and sensible drivers! Lol! My parents migrated to Australia decades ago looking for a better life. It would have been a big deal coming to a country not knowing the language or the customs but they did their best, raised their families and today we get to live a comfortable life surrounded by our own families.
I have a lot to be thankful for!