Friday, February 24, 2012


My grandparents moved from Bessarabia to Brazil on a German ship that left Hamburg in 1931. The name of the ship was Monte Sarmiento. I found some interesting information about it:

The first ship of its class, the 13,625 GRT Monte Sarmiento was commissioned in 1924 and used by Hamburg-Süd for service to South America. At its maiden voyage it was the largest motor vessel of the world. It could carry 1328 second class passengers and 1142 in the third class. It had two dining-halls and a smoking-room as well as a writing-room. As there was less than expected demand to Brazil and Argentina, the Monte Sarmiento and other ships of its class offered "one-class" low-priced cruises to Norway, Cairo and many other places. These popular cruises pioneered seafaring vacations for the masses, and in many ways created a foundation for the cruise program of the Nazi leisure and tourism organization Kraft durch Freude (KdF) after 1935. After the outbreak of war, she was stationed at Kiel and used as an accommodation ship. On February 26, 1942, she was sunk during an Allied bombing raid and was eventually scrapped in Hamburg in 1943.

Ironically they traveled on a ship that would be used a few years later by the Nazi regime.

The Hamburg-Süd company still exists and has renamed one of its ships with the same name. The new Monte Sarmiento is a cargo ship only, but it still travels south to Brazil. I contacted them asking for the ship's itinerary and passenger list for 1931, but according to their corporate communications representative, they lost their complete archives in the Hamburg tidal surge of 1962.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


One of these days I opened a cabinet in my kitchen and saw it: a Moldovan plastic bottle. Inside of it there was wine, homemade wine from Orhei.

For some reason I kept this bottle that was given to us from a local during our 2008 trip. Moldovan homemade wine is delicious and I had brought some back to the US, but a week went by and I forgot to drink it. It was then I decided to open it and offered some to a friend. She made a face and said "it's good" - but very unconvincingly. I tasted some and it was already almost vinegar.

It was unfortunate that I forgot to drink it while it was good. But I never threw it away. Three years went by and I kept is as a hidden secret, a kind of souvenir. Maybe I was waiting to write about it, so I wouldn't forget it. In any case, maybe it's now time to let go.