October 28, 2013
I have not written since being met at the airport in Krakow by three of the most beautiful people, Ewa, my cousin, Ania her daughter and Ania’s son, Tymek. Ewa was as thrilled as I was. We drove to their home in Opole, which is actually in a smaller area called black moustache, Czanowasy. We drove about two hours to get to their home, and the roads were like the autobahn. Ewa referred to them as the autostrada. Apparently being in the EU has been a big boon to Poland. The JPII airport is being expanded, roads are being fixed, other infrastructures rebuilt. During the communist era, nothing was done. All just sat and deteriorated.
My first meal upon arrival was pierogi! They tasted great and I did not have to make them. I can only take making them once a year for Christmas Eve. I also had some of the best barszcz. We drank it since there were no uszka. Ewa lives there with her husband Jacek, whom my brother Andy met on a visit to Poland in the early 1970’s. Their home is very comfortable, with three bedrooms and three baths., modern and in good condition.- Ewa’s daughter, Ania gave up her room for me.
They spoke much about the communist era poverty where rationing cards were a way of life and the black market was alive and well. Mama always spoke about how life was so good before the war, and I wondered why her head was still here. Well I heard that same sentiment from the cousins, that life was better before the war. Under communism, there were no goods to buy, life stood still. Things have been getting better but there still are no jobs. Even if you do work, everything is so expensive, you can’t always buy what you want. But the big thing is that there are goods to buy!
Ciocia’s Lucia, Ada and Zosia lived in the area then and Ewa, Jacek and Ania spoke of the fondly. Those relatives that Mama always spoke about are all dead now. We will visit their graves on All Saints Day, which including All Souls Day are quite a big deal at all the cemeteries here.
The town of Opole is very interesting. Built around a canal that feeds into the river Oder. In the middle ages, that region was Poland, but after the last partitioning, it became a part of Germany. So during WWII it was a part of Germany and after the war it became a part of Poland again and the German people were resettled into Germany and in their place came the repatriated Poles, those primarily from the Kresy territories. 50% of the Polish population are from Kresy and the other 50% are from other parts of Poland. The descendants of those from the Kresy do recognize the need to remember that part of Poland that is no longer and they keep those traditions alive as witnessed by the Kresy Wedding celebration that I attended, a little re-enactment.
My language skills have been challenged to say the least. I can carry on a simple conversation, but as soon as I want to say something out of the box, an independent thought, I struggle for words and proper grammar. I then start to rely thinking in English and using English words hoping they will understand and then I feel like a two year old. Tymek, Ania’s son is 8 – 9 yrs old has a phenomenal vocabulary and is very expressive and dramatic. Mama would have gotten a kick out of him. Many conversations I can understand, but some of the words used I cannot. I always thought my vocabulary was that of a first or second grader, but in reality it is of a two year old!