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Synopsis

It was wonderful to fulfi ll the dream of touring the ancestral village of Girdziunai. I now know what is at the end of the road. It was also a strange experience. Girdziunai is a poor place, something out of the nineteenth century. It was easy to imagine my grandparents and their grandparents making the same trek from their homes to the clearing at the river. There’s a real sense of a village frozen in time. Yet there are telephone poles near the road and cars parked in the dirt lanes. And there are political pressures and social uncertainties for the citizens of this obscure place.

The strangeness lies in the awareness of straddling two centuries simultaneously—family history is an extension of my own experience. Our records here date to 1801—Laurynas and Elzbieta Storta were born in the eighteenth century. The feeling of the past is very strong and the presence of the past is very apparent. Yet the year 2001 is half a year away. The future is also a palpable presence on a hike that encompassed two centuries in a half hour.

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