Family Reunion 2017
One morning 164 years ago in Germany, in 1853, a young man goes on board a sailing ship bound for a part of the world almost unknown to Europeans at that time. They call it the New World. It is a place where people can start anew, free from whatever traditions and obligations that limits, or hinders them, in Europe; the Old World. The New World offers hope; the name itself implies this is a place for a new beginning and a new start in life. It also attracks the adventurer lurking inside any man.
We do not know much about this young fellow, except which city he came from and the name of his grandparents and parents. His name is Johannes Christian Hudtwalcker and his destination is Lima, Peru. Little did he know on that day in 1853, that he not only would become the founding father of numerous Peruvian Hudtwalckers, but that by the shere number of family members alone, Lima would replace Hamburg, and become the new capital of the Hudtwalckers.
On a foggy Sunday morning at the end of June in 1979, a little more than 125 years after Johannes Christian was about to embark on his voyage which would change the whole history of the Hudtwalcker Family, a young Norwegian guy is standing outside a cheap and low budget hotel in Lima.
He is the 2nd European Hudtwalcker ever to set foot on Peruvian soil, and at the end of a 5 month long trip through Central and South America. He has returned to Lima from Cusco the night before, after recently having hiked and lived outdoors for 4 days and nights on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
He is 25 years old, has long hair, a blond moustache, wears worn blue jeans and a shirt made of Alpacca wool he bought up in the Andes mountains some weeks ago. The young guy has already many years before met the girl who is to become his wife later in life. They have been going to high-school together, but barely exchanged a word. Her name is Iselin, and when the young man stands oustide the hotel, looking at the empty street and the damp fog blowing through it, he has no idea he is to marry her in 1993. Furthermore he has no idea, that he this Sunday is about to meet the man, Tony, who 14 years later, in a deeply touching gesture, will come all the way from Lima to be his best man at their wedding. And he has aboslutely no idea he is to become the father of two sons, Jonathan and Jacob, who today are together with him and Iselin on this wonderful visit to Peru.
The young guy has other things on his mind.
Impatient, exhited and very curious, he is waiting for someone he has never met. In his mind this ”someone” is a kind of a miracle. Outside the hotel he restlessly shifts his feet inside a couple of big Norwegian leather hiking boots, with soles made to climb rocky mountains. He feels like he is on the treshold to unveil a world-sensation, something as big as discovering a lost tribe deep inside the Amazon jungle.
An hour or so earlier, he had randomly picked a name he thought was beautiful, Rosa Hudtwalcker, from the Lima telephone directory. He had rehearsed a few sentences in Spanish. When the woman answers the telephone at the other end, he stutters:
”Good morning, my name is John Michael Hudtwalcker. I am from Norway. We are family. Can we meet?”
The woman at the other end does not understand what he is saying. Maybe I woke her up? the young man thinks and he repeat his message. There is a long silence. Then the woman ask which hotel he is staying at. He gives her the name and the address. ”I will pick you up in one hour,” the woman says, and they hang up.
Outside the hotel time passes slowly. One hour comes and goes without any signs of life except for an old newspaper blowing down the empty street.
It’s getting around noon. The weather still foggy and grey. Then a yellow Volkswagen, a so-called ”bubble”, comes slowly down the street. It stops about 20 meters down the street from the hotel. The young man’s heart is beating fast. Although people had been friendly, everywhere he came during his travel, he had always been a gringo and a stranger. The door on the right side of the car is opened. A man in a yellow sweater steps into the street. He holds a long golden cigarette mouthpiece between the fingers on his left hand. 20 meters away down the street, the man in the yellow sweater throws his arms wide open, and cries out loud: ”Primo! Primo!”
The man in the yellow sweater is thus to be the first Peruvian Hudtwalcker ever in the history of mankind, to lay his eyes on an European Hudtwalcker. His name is Guillermo Hudtwalcker. He worked in the Sublime chocolate company. I knew Sublime well. During my hike in the mountains to Machu Picchu, I had eaten a lot of it.
By now, also Rosa is outside the small car, and after having greeted them both, the young man enter the passenger seat of the Volkswagen, sitting down beside a very old man. ”This is the oldest Hudtwalcker in Lima!” Guillermo explains. Then they drive off.
The young Norwegian is taken to a house somewhere, Miraflores, perhaps, or San Isidro. There
are many people already there. The young guy is placed on a chair in the middle of the room.
Fortunately he has remembered to bring his passport as a final proof of who he is. The Norwegian passport is carefully studied by each new guest. And more and more people keep pouring into the house. At a point in time he sees the face of a man about to come in through the entrance door. It has the look of great expectations, as if something he had always longed for, but had given up hoping, now suddenly has become reality. And the young Norwegian instinctively feels this is a man he has known all his life. The man is Ernesto.
Later on Ernesto tell him that he, and others, have traveled to Europe to search for relatives. They have been to Hamburg. They found nobody. Therefore he had believed the European Hudtwalckers, like some endagered species, had died out. But then, out of the blue, without any kind of forewarning, on a foggy Sunday, lightening strikes; an alien space ship has landed in Lima. Through the invisible walls of time and space a young guy steps into sight. And lo and behold; he is a Hudtwalcker! And of all impossible destinations and places, he is from Norway. A country full of polar bears and ice. Far away and remote.
Undertekst: Jürgen Olaf Hudtwalcker
Not only is this is how things started, but also the reason we are together today. Well, almost. There is one important fact missing from my story, a fact I would like to honour on this historic occasion. Before I left Norway, my uncle Olaf in Barcelona, the father of my cousin Christian,
who also is present here today with his wife Bloanca, wrote me a letter saying that he thought there might be some Hudtwalckers in Lima. But he was not at all sure. It could be rumours and heresay.
I had forgotten all about that letter, until one day in Cusco I was running short of money and had to telephone the Norwegian Consulate in Lima asking them to get in touch with my parents for arranging money transfer. Sitting in the telephone office in Cusco with the Lima telephone directory on my lap, I suddenly remember uncle Olaf’s words. Searching in the telephone directory, I saw lots of Hudtwalckers. The dice was rolling, but it was my uncle who was the first to throw it. Without his letter, we would not have been together here today.
On this day we must also remember, and honour, the past generations long ago who carried our family name before us, as well as those who are not with us anymore, but continue to live in our spirits. Among them my three uncles; Ernesto, Guillermo and Olaf. And my parents, Charlie and Merete, who had the wonderful opportunity to visit Lima twice towards the end of their lives.
Some months ago, our two sons Jonathan and Jacob told my wife Iselin and me that she and I should travel more. They suggested Ceylon. Ceylon? I thought, what on earth shall I do in Ceylon?
But our sons had done something important. They had presented us with a challenge, and thereby an opportunity. I decided time had come for us to finally take the big step, and travel to Lima. When the decision was made, I, like the young man outside the hotel in Lima in 1979, had no idea it would ignite what was to become the greatest Hudtwalcker Fiesta ever in the history of mankind. Now I am happy beyond words that I made the decision for us to travel to Peru, and offer my sincere thanks to Maria-José and Rodrigo for arranging this wonderful event.
We are people of different nations, different languages, different cultures and different believes.
But we are also united underneath a very special star. It is a bright and proud star, always there to help and assist us. It illuminates our common past and our history, and it illuminates the present and our lives. And it will continue to shine into the future long after our time. The star uniting us all is called the Hudtwalcker Family. May it shine on each and all of you forever. May it always be there to guide you, and fill you with pride. And may it always give you strength and courage!
John Michael Hudtwalcker
Lima, Peru, April 2, 2017
A big thank you to Johann and Rodrigo Hudtwalcker Zegarra for their generous assistance, and to Maria-José Celi di Tolla for the artwork.