Trip Start Sep 15, 2010
29Trip End Jul 23, 2011
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Despite having to run after my bus, I was relieved to know I would make it to Taurage before nightfall. This town of 28,000 is not listed in the guidebook so I had no idea where I would stay upon arrival. That said, as the bus pulled into the station, I asked an elderly woman sitting behind me if she knew of a hotel. She motioned to follow her and I explained in my choppy Lithuanian that I was looking for my relatives. Her name was Ona and she seemed very excited about my quest. She kept pointing to her daughter's car and saying "daughter - English."
As I approached her daughter, Remigija, I explained that I was looking for a hotel. Remigija said she was happy to take me to the nearest hotel but that I could also come to their house and use their telephone book and phone
As we drove to their lovely home by the river, Remigilia explained that she has a good friend who is a local English teacher. Before long, her friend Judita arrived and was able to help translate the genealogy information my friend Clydia compiled about the Waitekus family. We stayed at Remigija's house for several hours while she called the director of the Taurage archives office and Judita bravely called people from the phone book. A few times we thought we were close but in the end we needed more information.
Judita is only two years older than me and was very excited to have an opportunity to practice her English. She invited me to stay at her home for the night and I suggested that I speak with her students the following day. We gladly agreed on the exchange and then took off for a night tour of the town. We went to the old castle, river and catholic church ... all places that were likely stomping grounds of my relatives.
The next morning I helped teach Judita's fourth grade class and then we went to the local archive office
Even though I did not meet any direct relatives on my great grandfather's side, I certainly met three wonderful women. They were so surprised to find an American in Taurage and I was so blessed to find people willing to help me. On the bus ride back to Vilnius I felt as though I had just fallen from the sky and Ona, Remigija and Judita had caught me with open arms.