MY CROATIAN ANCESTORS
When I was a child, I always heard that most of my family ancestors came from Italy. That was quite normal, living in Argentina, where most family origins remount themselves to Italy or Spain. But what sounded quite exotic was to mention that one side of my family actually came from the former Yugoslavia. And back then that sounded very special indeed...
- Dominican Monastery I, Bol, Brač - One of five originals received as a gift from Maria Petric', all of which were featured in a recently published book about historic Bol.
With the years, I learnt a bit more about the turmoil of the Yugoslavian region to finally settle into 6 independent countries. My family, I was told, was originally from what now is known as Croatia. Still, it sounded very far away in time, and in distance...
- Overview of Bol's coastline -
But somehow, many years later, I ended up living in Europe and suddenly Croatia was not that far away at all. My husband started travelling to Croatian cities on business trips and told me that the country was beautiful and the people fantastic! He was particularly impressed by how the locals would meet at sort of taverns and would sing folkloric tunes with their lungs out! He also told me how shocked he was to be served by my “father” at his hotel and pay the toll money to my “brother“... As it happened, the hotel receptionist had an unbelievably resemblance with my father, and the toll operator to one of my brothers.
- Dominican Monastery II, Bol -
I then remembered all the times when I have been told by strangers that I have “Yugoslavian eyes”, and thought that definitely it must be that my family still retains some facial features of the region. On top of that, mine seemed to be very popular Croatian name too...Overall, my husband and I reached this conviction: “we have to go to Croatia on a family vacation!”
My dear uncle Domingo (known as Mingo) had told me about how he spent a lot of time back home in Argentina (Mingo is now living in Spain) with his grandfather, also named Domingo (Spanish equivalent to the Croatian Dinko) when he was a child. Domingo always told him about his beautiful small town in the Adriatic Sea. Mingo even remember to these days a song that Domingo would sing to him in his original language. We knew that other members of the family in later years were unsuccessful in trying to find this place, but Mingo decided to try by himself, armed only with the memories from all those years ago. Little by little, accompanied by his friend Susana, and recalling everything he was told by Domingo, he was getting closer and closer until finally arriving to the picturesque small Croatian town of Bol, in the island of Brač (pronounced Brach). Mingo started to feel very much at home then, especially when at a local tavern he saw the portrait of a lady that immediately made him think: “what is a portrait of my grandmother doing here??” It wasn’t his grandmother’s but somebody looking just like her...
- Port of Bol -
Encouraged by this, he asked a taxi driver if he knew somebody from the Petric’ family (pronounced Petrich, and as such was translated into phonetic Spanish when the surname was registered in Argentina) living in that town. I can only imagine Mingo’s excitement when he was told that yes, there was a chef with that surname at one of the town’s hotels. He went straight away to see this man at the hotel, and, since the man was obviously very busy at the moment in the kitchen, he explained briefly to him the reason of his visit. The man, called Sinisa Petric’, then invited Mingo to join him later that evening to continue the conversation at home...
- Dominican Monastery III, Bol -
Continue reading my Croatian pages with the tale of the vine´s phylloxera epidemic that affected my family and so many others.