We began to day in Fashchivka, having had a good night’s sleep. I slept in what I think is an older living room, on a sofa that turns into a bed. It was quite comfortable with fresh sheets and a huge, thick comforter–I image it’s quite needed in the winter. Once the lights were out, it was dark, very dark. But I slept comfortably and well, waking as the day dawned, and using that quite opportunity to work on yesterday’s blog entry.
Once we were up and at it, we had a bit of breakfast, basically the same fare as yesterday’s lunch. But by now we’ve cleaned up of the meats, cheese, bread, and the tomatoes. And of course we had tea with it. It was good and hit the spot.
After breakfast, Alicja, Wojtek, Filip and I took a long walk. We went again to the house that belonged to Jan Cymbal at one time, our common great-great-grandfather. It would have been the house where our great-grandfathers grew up. All run down now, but locked up. Not sure what’s inside or who if anyone owns it. After that we walked some more, quite a distance actually. We crossed a small creek that goes into the Zbruch River and then headed back towards Fashchivka. There we found the “downtown” area–really just a marker and a small shelter where people can wait for the bus that runs occasionally.
Eventually, we all got into Michail’s van and he took us on an excursion. We drove to Mala Luka, back on the same roads we’d come in on yesterday. First we saw an old abandoned Polish Catholic Church. It was build in 1938, just a year before the war and before all the “ethnic cleansing” that went on. The Cymbal relatives would probably have gone there because it was closer than the nearest Polish Catholic church in Tarnoruda. Then we visited the Greek Catholic Church. That is the church where my great-grandmother, Katarzyna Kucharska, was baptized. She would have been baptized there because the marriage of her parents was a mixed marriage, or they were Ukrainian. Ukrainians went to the Greek Catholic Church, but in the case of a mixed marriage, the boys were baptized in the Polish Catholic church, the girls in the Ukrainian one. So it turns out I may have some Ukrainian blood in me too. But then you have to ask the question as to how you define a nationality, anyway…. Long discussion there, I’m sure.
After the stop at the church, we stopped at a cemetery not too far away. Apparently it’s been the cemetery for the area for some time, and is still used. But it has some older Polish Catholic graves that are in very much disrepair, overgrown by weeds. And some graves for Ukrainian people that are still taken care of. I guess the Polish graves suffer because the Polish people were kicked out of the area long ago. Near the center there was a small building and we went in. It was a Polish crypt of some sort, and the wooden floor over the crypt was mostly gone. But I went down a few very steep steps and took a look. I believe I saw a human femur (leg bone) laying there, and also what looked to be a mummified leg and foot. It was hard to tell in the dark, but of course I took a few pictures. Kinda weird, actually.
We left Mala Luka and headed back, then stopped and walked into the grass quite a way. There was a small memorial to 46 UPA (Ukrainian Nationalist) soldiers that were killed, I believe by the Germans. Remember, the UPA was a sort of terrorist or nationalist group fighting for a free Ukraine in what was at least here, traditionally somewhat Polish country. Anyhow, there are mixed feelings there. Michail is sad when he sees this monument, Alicja is happy. I am just sad that people have to act like they do sometime. And I know that history gets written by the victor, and is not necessarily the whole truth, only someone’s interpretation of it.
After that, we passed back through Fashchivka on our way to Tarnoruda, about 4 km away. Tarnoruda was the closest Catholic church (before 1938) and is where my great-great grandparents and their family would have gone. There in Tarnoruda we found the church. Michail also found the man who has the keys to the church, and we spent quite a delightful hour or more with him. There we were in the same church where our great-grandparents had been, and where they were most likely baptized, and enjoyed other life events. The church is very old, dating back to the mid or early 1800s, I’ll have to look at my pictures to know for sure. And the man we met is the man who saved a lot of the contents of the church during the war! A lot of them had been returned to the church. He is 87 and his wife is now dead, but he takes care of the church. I took many pictures. Then we went to his house where he had even more stuff from the church, the monstrance, a chalice, and much, much more. A real treasure trove, if only someone wanted to preserve it, besides him. But now there are only three Polish people in the area, and he is one of them. He was extremely happy to share many stories with us, and we had a wonderful time. I took many, many pictures.
Eventually we stopped at a very small store full of “stuff” and then headed back. After a bit of a rest, we had lunch. Once again. Luba (with help, I imagine, from their two daughters) turned out a big feast. We started with borscht which was pretty good. It was a lot of vegetables, only a little beets, but still very good. Then there was kasza gryczana. Kasza is a grain of a sort called buckwheat and kasza gryczana is made from buckwheat groats. Ukraine is the third largest grower of buckwheat in the world. Anyway, the kasza gryczana was flavored with chicken and carrots and a gravy. Michail grows the grain. It was also good. We also had a salad of corn, Krab, onion, diced cucumbers, some potato chips, and mayonnaise, maybe a few more things. But it was very good. There was also bread, an assortment of meats, the leftover fish from yesterday, and some galaretka. All was very good. After that, we took a bit of a rest before we headed out on the next leg of our journey.
Eventually we got going again, around 5 PM. Our destination was, I believe, in the cities of Pidvolochisk and Bolochisk, about 20 km away or so. Michail drive and Luba joined us. It was a very rough road for over half the way there, then became only rough, until we got to a main road which we only traveled on for a short time. We arrived at the home of Bogdan and Lesia (Alexandra) Wosoloski Lesia is the great-granddaughter of Antoni and so also my third cousin. We had a very nice meal there and quite a few rounds of vodka. Bogdan was quite liberal in his pours, but I made sure to not drink it all each time. The food was simply wonderful, meats, cheese, vegetables, quite and assortment. Among my favorites was two slices of eggplant topped with a tomato slice. There was some mayo in there and a few other things. It was wonderful. Bogdan spoke a bit of English as he lived in the United States for 5 years where he was the chaffeur for some big shot with some company, from around 1995-1999 or so. He was mainly in New Jersey and Pennsylvania but also had a picture, for example, from in front of the White House. We had a very good time there.
After that, I was stuffed and we hit the road again. But we did not travel far as now we stopped at the home of Michail’s brother, Yevgen (called Chanio) and his wife Oksana. She also had a nice spread of food, so of course I had to eat some to be polite, and to drink some vodka, to be polite. Again it was a good time. This time it was ????? And Wojtek who dominated the conversation, as both are veterinarians. I believe they were mostly comparing notes about what they do and the differences between Poland and Ukraine.
Again, we had a very good time there and again (as we always do), we spent some time telling the story of how Alicja and I got in contact via the Internet, my family tree and web site, how I traveled to Poland last year and at the last moment Alicja got my email and met me, and of my travels here this year. It was a delightful evening, though I did end up very stuffed and feeling a bit happy from the vodka. Good thing I had the food to soak it up.
When we arrived back at Michail and Luba’s home, I was treated to a fantastic sight. Here we are in the middle of nowhere. There are no cities or towns of any size close by at all. And when I got out of the car and looked up, I could see the stars and the milky way in all it’s glory and splendor. I think I stood for a moment with my head up, just taking it in. It’s a sight I have not seen since I was in my 20s, sitting outside late at night at my parent’s house. It’s a sight I’ll never see where I live now because of the city’s light pollution, and will never see from my parents’ house now, because of the light pollution of a WalMart that has sprung up there. But it sure was magnificent, truly.
And so ended day 13. It was after 10, maybe closer to 11, a late day, but a full day, full of memories, history, the past, the present, and, I guess, the hope for the future, for a better future. Quite a grand day!