Saturday, June 23, 2012
I heard the phone ring at 2:00 a.m. – my wake-up call — but I was already awake. I was anxious about the trip. I took a quick shower and got dressed, made sure I had all of my belongings and headed down to the hotel lobby to wait for my cab driver, Erik. He showed up right on time and drove me to the Kosice airport. There were a few people there already but no gates were opened yet. FInally someone came to the Czech Air desk and I was able to check in for my flight to Prague. Then, it was time to go through security and finally board the plane. The flight was quick and we landed a bit early in Prague. I went through Passport Control and then prepared for my six hour layover (I was supposed to be on a later flight but about a week before my trip I got a notice saying the 9:15 flight was cancelled and that I was moved to the earlier flight). It was going to be a long day.
I spent the time reading, doing some work and checking my e-mail using the 1-hour free wireless. I bought some lunch at one of the restaurants. Then it was time to check in at the Delta desk and finally go through security again. Finally, I boarded the plane to New York and was on my way home! The flight was long, but at least the person sitting next to me was quiet and slept almost the whole way back. I watched a couple of movies, read, tried to sleep a bit, and spent a lot of time thinking about my experiences during this second visit to Slovakia. I was SO HAPPY when the plane touched down in New York. I cleared customs and was really glad to see my husband who was waiting for me.
|Figlyar family from Osturňa–my grandfather, Jan, front, center|
Overall, my trip was personally fulfilling. I enjoyed spending time with my Alzo family and meeting new cousins. I was glad to have the opportunity to visit the monastery in Michalovce to learn about my famous cousin, happy to meet up with my hosts from 2010, and was thrilled to finally go to Osturňa, and especially to meet my cousins in Podolínec. As usual, the food was fabulous, and I had the opportunity to research in the archives. I really packed in a lot of activities in eight days. But, with family history research you always end up wanting more–for every answer you get, there are at least a dozen more questions. And boy, do I have questions! I still have to track down several records including evidence of when and where my great-grandfather died, and some other details about some of my ancestors on Dad’s side. I have several leads to follow. And, I won’t give up my search. The answers are out there. I just have to keep looking.
Just as with my trip in 2010, I came home with mixed feelings. I had successes and failures with my research attempts. Again, I couldn’t help but feel that had I gone to Osturňa 10 or 15 years ago, I may have found more living relatives who could have helped me learn more about my family. But, as they say “it is what it is.” I was grateful for those folks I did get to meet and the information I was able to find. I was also very lucky to have an expert researcher to assist me. I would not have been half as successful without the assistance of Michal Razus (Slovak-Ancestry.com). Having him to help me navigate the archives, drive me to the villages, and communicate with the priests and clerks made all the difference. If anyone is planning a research trip to their ancestral villages, it is definitely worth every penny to hire a qualified researcher who knows the area, archival system, and language.
Recently, a friend asked me if I will go back to Slovakia again. I told her maybe someday. It is a lovely country and there is still so much more I could see. But, it may be awhile before I return for another visit. I achieved my goal of visiting all four of my ancestral villages. I have come full circle. Mission accomplished.
Photo owned by Lisa A. Alzo
Copyright 2012, Lisa A. Alzo
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