Thursday, December 3, 2015

Family Ties

All of the pictures in this post were taken in Foz do Arelho. My great grandfather was born there and emigrated to the US almost a hundred years ago. Seeing the town was a surreal moment, a bucket list item I had always dreamed of and finally checked off. It's small, doesn't even have a proper grocery store (that I could find). It's likely that they take care of most errands in the small nearby city of Caldas da Rainha, about a 10 minute drive. Most architecture seemed pretty modern and there was a lot of construction happening. A small town growing into a small beach getaway resort or weekend retreat destination perhaps? It made me wonder... what was even there a hundred years ago? They didn't even have cars yet. Things have no doubt changed so much in that place over these years since my ancestor left, but the things that can't have changed, are those views and that water. One hundred years is so long, and so short.

There is rumor that someone in my family (which is big) still has the deed to an old piece of land there, an asset that my great grandfather brought with him. But I don't know who, or if it's even true. I've heard other rumors of eminent domain taking it away from us. No one seems to know what the deal is. And we don't have family there either. It felt, being there, like anything that would have tied me to that place in a more physical way had been washed away or built over in more recent years. But when I went to the Municipal Archives in Leiria to retrieve his, and my great grandmother's, birth certificates the attendant found them in about 5 minutes. I thought they might be lost in time but it was that quick and easy. And it was a tremendous feeling. We move on from the past and our connection to it diminishes. But this was truth. Real connection. Real history. That place is in my blood. It was thrilling.

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