I Travel Doing Tributes With Broken Dishes To People’s Grandparents

The Route of the Bobes is a travel project that seeks to recover the history of those grandparents who emigrated from Eastern and Central Europe to Argentina and never returned to their towns. It is a tribute journey using broken dishes as memorial plates.

The project started on February 21, 2019, when I accidentally broke five plates that belonged to my grandmother and had been in my family for more than 70 years. That night I couldn’t sleep; I had dishonored my grandmother’s memory, I thought. It was a drama. Until I came up with an idea: visit my grandparents’ villages, take a piece of broken plate to each village, write a message and leave it as a commemorative plaque.

My history:

My four grandparents were Polish. Two of them came to Argentina in the interwar period, escaping the hunger and misery of Europe. The others survived the Shoa. They were deported to Siberia by the soviets and spent the war as prisoners in a gulag. They never wanted to talk about their life in Europe. They never returned to Poland.

Similar stories lived many grandparents who emigrated from Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Poland.

So why did it have to limit itself to my family? What if I made a trip dedicated to making homages with broken plates to the grandparents of all those who asked me? I was already in front of a project.

How it started:

I made a post on Instagram, and people started to send me the town’s names and the history of their grandparents. Sometimes they were fragments, disconnected pieces of a puzzle. Others were just a personal memory, something they have been told, or a photo. I inquired and explored; I looked for a way to get to that lost corner. And together with those grandchildren we reconstructed the pieces of the puzzle. I was a link between the past and the present, the eyes of a whole family that saw for the first time where its history was born.

The protagonists:

The route of the bobes is a multidimensional project in which actors, who dialogue over time, intervene in an unthinkable way. Grandparents who are gone, the families who reconstruct their history, the venues that welcome me, also the audience that actively follows the stories and the trip. And the sponsors who make this possible. They all connect in some way.

This project made me travel differently. I visited and discovered unusual places, met all kinds of people, and focused on the past and the untold stories. In Moldova, I contacted an NGO who works in migration and identity. So I met with a group of teenagers from Chisinau, and it was them who intervened in the dishes and did the memorials for 2 families. In Lviv, Ukraine, i rented an Airbnb, and it was crazy. My neighbors had family who left to Argentina in the 40s, and they lost contact. I helped them to find the tracks, we spent an afternoon, and we found them. After 70 years, the family reunited. Every single tribute was unique and emotional.

The project now:

In 2020, I started to share those stories in a written and streaming format during the quarantine. The Route of the Bobes got some attention, and the last December was declared a cultural interest project by the city of Buenos Aires.

In 2021 I am about to start a second part. I received 18 new tributes requests to do in Poland and Lithuania. It will be my first trip after the pandemic started. Soon I will be back on the road, with new memorials and stories to tell.

If you like it, you can see a little more on my website below and follow the next trip on my Insta.

More info: rulodeviaje.com | Instagram

My grandmother’s plates, broken by accident after 70 years in my family

Tribute made in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Viseu the Jos, a small Village in Romania

In Maramures, Romania i was host by a family

They got involved and helped me to make a tribute to Emilio, a 100-year-old grandfather who escaped when he was a child and never came back to his town.

For the first time in my grandparents village in Poland

The place for the memorial and what was written in the plate, was related to the story of the honored grandparent

Afternoon in Lviv, family tracks

A video of my grandparents tributes, where my sister and my uncle join me for a couple of days


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts