After a six hour car ride, we arrived. My German relatives live in a small village called Petting, which is placed in between two mountains, and five minutes away from Salzburg, Austria. It appears as if out of the movie The Sound of Music. We first stopped at my cousin Maria’s. She is an elderly lady, who is married, and runs her own Gasthaus, which is a lot like an American hotel. She and our father talked for a little while, and then we went for a small tour of the town. It was a beautiful old German town, with a nice scenery of hills, and it was the town my Grandmother grew up in. Her father was mayor of it during World War II. From our walk we went to a restaurant where our family decided to have a reunion. My sister and I meat great cousins, uncles, and aunts, heard German Ompa music playing in the background as we at bread, and drank soda, but we felt awkward. We were surrounded by family, but none of our family members spoke our language. A year of German allowed me to follow everything my relatives said to my father, but I was too scared to voice anything I had learned. I taught my sister the basic phrases such as, “Please,” “Thank you,” how to say our names, and the most important, “Where is the bathroom?” and we stuck to only saying that. It was lonely; we’d talk to each other, seeking to hear a familiar language. Occasionally an old man, or woman, a distant aunt or uncle, would come up smile, pat our heads, and slip us a 20 euro bill, before walking back to our father and saying something in German to him. The loneliness would slip away when this happens, and I felt a strange De va jou that this happens with my relatives in the states as well. The next day we went to another relatives house for dinner. My cousin Wolfgang was an older man, who is married and has a young daughter. My sister and I entertained ourselves by playing with his daughter, who tried to speak English to us, and we tried to speak German back to her. Wolfgang spoke very good English, so I talked to him a lot, his wife was kind, and made a very good dinner for us.
When the time came to go home, I spoke a little more to my aunts and uncles. I promised to learn more German so the next trip we would carry out a conversation. This made them very happy, and they fully encouraged it. The lesson of this visit was that even though my family spoke a different language they were still family. They were my grandmother’s brothers and sisters and I should treat them as though they were my grandparents. They were kind, and welcomed me into their homes with open arms, just as family should.