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  • Day3

    Bela Krajina Part 3: Finding Stanko!

    May 31, 2019 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

    As we were getting ready to leave the vineyards to return to Ljubljana, Gregor received a call from Tone Plut in Semič. He said he had found our relatives and did we want to return? We had had a long day by then, and Gregor had already provided more than we hoped and we didn't want to keep him too long. But he was willing, so back to Semič to meet up with Tone.
    We followed Tone to a house on the site of Vrtača 19, Myj's grandfather's birthplace. The current house is new, built by the current resident, Stanko Plut (no relation to Tone). Stanko pointed out where the original house was, now his front yard. A barn/shed still remains and is in use. Stanko doesn't speak English, but with Gregor's help, we found out that Stanko is the grandson of Jose Mihelčič 's sister, Neza (so Myj's 2nd cousin). Stanko brought out some photos of his grandmother Neza, Joze, and, to our surprise, Myj's Mom and Dad, as well as her Uncle Ed and Aunt Dorothy. Tone had his accordion and began playing "Oj,Maricka Pegla" (earlier Myj had told him that was the only Slovenian song she knew the words to). That was enough to start the crying (Dennis was first, when he noticed the picture of Anne and Frank).
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    Jaime Madrigal

    😊 amazing.

  • Day205

    Die "blaue" Krupa

    April 24, 2018 in Slovenia ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Da wir diesmal in einer Gegend mit wenig Wasser gelandet sind, wollten wir wenigstens ein Mal zu einem Fluss gehen. Wir haben uns die Krupa ausgesucht und die Wanderung hatte wirklich vieles zu bieten: Wir wanderten auf der Straße, auf breiten Wegen, auf Pfaden, sahen Wasser mit einer unglaublich intensiven Farbe und mussten uns durch dichtes Gebüsch entlang der Krupa einen Abhang hochkämpfen, als wir etwas vom Weg abgekommen waren. Dort machten wir auch Bekanntschaft mit der gemeinen Brennnessel. Nach einer Weile hatten wir den richtigen Weg wiedergefunden und wanderten froh – begleitet von ein wenig Donnergrollen im Hintergrund – weiter zur Quelle der Krupa. Dort entspringt das türkisblaue Wasser aus einer Karstquelle (unter Karst versteht man eine Geländeform in Karbonatgesteinen). Passend zum kleinen Schauer der gerade runterkam, gab es dort zum Glück einen überdachten Pausenplatz. Der zweite Teil der Wanderung war besser zu gehen und schön schattig im Wald. Kurz vor unserem Ziel konnten wir noch süße kleine Lämmer beobachten 😊!

    Im Nachhinein haben wir erfahren, warum der Fluss so eine intensive Farbe hat. Es liegt an einer Verunreinigung, die durch unsachgemäß gelagerte Abfälle bei der Produktion von Kondensatoren in den 1980er Jahren entstanden ist. Seit 1997 steht der Fluss unter Naturschutz und in der Zwischenzeit hat die Belastung auch drastisch abgenommen. Die blaue Farbe ist allerdings geblieben 🤔.
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  • Day3

    Where in the world is Vrtača 19? Part 1

    May 31, 2019 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    It will be hard to top our first full day in Slovenia. With the help of a series of strangers, we embarked on what turned out to be a memorable detective hunt and ended with an emotional meeting. The day was too full to capture in one post, so this is part 1 of 3.
    Mark and Carina met us at our hotel for our expedition to the Bela Krajina region. Our guide Gregor drove us to the beautiful and scenic countryside through a number of small villages and farmlands. The area looks much like Oregon. There are small family vineyards and farms everywhere along the hillsides.
    Upon arriving in the village of Semič, Gregor drove us to the Google location for Vrtača 19, the site where my grandfather, Jože Mihelčič was born. We walked along the little gravel road looking at each little house or cottage. We found #16, #17,#18 but no #19. Myj stopped a young man driving a forklift to ask if he might know where #19 was (thankfully the young people all speak English fluently) or if he might know of the family. He didn't know but called his boss.
    Meanwhile, our guide Gregor had found an older gentleman who wasn't sure but he thought perhaps #19 was across the valley because an industrial warehouse had come in and they had relocated the road. We resigned ourselves to not finding the homesite, thinking progress had destroyed it.
    Since we couldn't find the ancestral home, we next went to the cemetery to find the headstone. Again, however, despite searching the entire graveyard, we had no luck. Perhaps there was another graveyard, or the stone had been destroyed. As we were leaving, a man drove up, so Myj showed him the sketch of the tombstone we were looking for, Gregor helped to translate. He didn't know, but said his brother had done a lot of genealogy research. He called the brother, who agreed to meet us at a restaurant.
    The brother, Tone Plut, met us armed with his research on the family names in the family tree Myj had brought along. He couldn't quite come up with any matches, but said he would do some research. We enjoyed a coffee together, and learned that Tone had traveled to America, playing accordion at Slovenian gatherings and festivals. Tone took us to the local cultural center and St Stephen's, which would have been my grandparents' church.With Tone's promise to do more research, we exchanged emails, and went on to our lunch stop.
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