Going Home

This weekend we went back to Kavadarci and Vatasha! Vatasha is the village we lived in when we first got to Macedonia during our pre-service training, our first Peace Corps home. It’s a 20 minute walk from Kavadarci, a much bigger city where our friends Jen and Janna live. We spent the weekend at Jen’s house, and this morning we walked back to Vatasha to see the family we lived with and get lots of hugs from Baba. Traveling and visiting usually wears me out, but it was so nice to be back in a place where I have so many good memories that I feel relaxed and happy today. It doesn’t hurt that we have finally crossed out of daylight savings time, so as I write this at 7pm it’s still light out (out of or into daylight savings time? I can never remember if it’s starting or ending. Either way, the time changed.)

Friday I defied all odds and stayed out until 2:30 IN THE MORNING at a pool hall bar and then at the disco. It was my first Macedonian discotheque experience, and the fun I had dancing was tempered by the fact that I came home REEKING of cigarettes (but it was still really fun). Saturday we helped pick out some words for the local spelling bee in Kavadarci that Jen and Janna were helping with, and then we went to visit Frosina and Goran, the daughter of our Vatasha family and her husband, for the opening of the new office for their print shop. I bought some new shoes, we got some lunch, and then we went home to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding and nap. Saturday night we made a feast; I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed cooking. We made mac and cheese with mushrooms and leeks, and it was AMAZING. Then we drank a liter and a half of wine and watched Mission Impossible, and I got an introduction to oil pulling. Oil pulling is when you swish coconut oil around in your mouth for ~20 minutes, and it’s supposed to be really good for your teeth/gums. My teeth do look a little whiter, and I’m hoping that if I do it some more my teeth will be less sensitive. We’ll see.

Seeing our Vatasha family was a highlight of the weekend for me. It reminded me of how far we’ve come since we’ve been here (6 months last Sunday!) When we got off the bus in Vatasha last September, not speaking really any Macedonian, I just remember being completely lost and overwhelmed. It takes a lot of love to open your home to strangers, feed them and take care of them, introduce them to your culture and your way of life, all without really being able to communicate with them, but that’s exactly what our family did for us. Baba was SO happy to see us, and I was so happy to see her and the rest of the family. We stayed for almost an hour catching up before going for a short hike in the hills, and I can’t wait to go back and stay longer in the summer.

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