In the Fatherland with Father

Father's first selfie!
Father’s first selfie!

What a long, jet leggy kind of day it’s been.

My sister, my brother-in-law, father and I left Toronto on Saturday night, arrived in Frankfurt seven hours later, took a bus across the enormous airport, got on another, much smaller plane, and finally arrived in Croatia on Sunday afternoon. Several groggy time zones and one very strange airline sandwich later (mozzarella, eggplant and zucchini on white bread) we’re finally here!
Actually, if I’m being honest, it took more than just an airline ticket to get here.
 We’re in Croatia because this is where my father was born and where he vowed never to return. He spent his whole childhood dreaming of how he’d get out of the country… sneak out on a cattle passport like his uncle, join the circus then defect…(nobody defects any more, not even during an Olympics…) It’s unclear what circus skills he possesses — tight rope walking? elephant taming? general clown skills? But in 1958, my father, his parents and brother boarded a slow boat to Canada and never looked back.
It’s taken 60 years, the fall of communism, a civil war, the kind of progress that has turned dirt roads navigated by horse and buggy into modern super highways with flashy Mercs and BMWs, and a desire by his daughters to see where he grew up, to get him back. A LOT has changed… and Dad’s shocked.
Despite my personal rule of not driving in foreign countries, we’ve rented a small-ish car that barely contains the four of us (my brother-in-law is well over six feet tall) and our luggage — the guy at the rental agency looked at us, looked at our luggage, looked back at the car and said, “Is problem.” Jet lagged, I assured him, “is not problem”, and we were away, driving almost bleary-eyed into the Zagreb afternoon.
Tomorrow we drive to Blogorodovac, the tiny village in which my father was born. The plan is simple — knock on the front door of unassuming strangers, introduce ourselves and ask to be let in. I mean, what person would wouldn’t open their door to foreign language speaking strangers? We’ll either be let in… or the police will be called. In any case, it will be an adventure!

Leave a Reply