As I am trying to recover from a jet-lag and adapt to the Arizona heat, I wake up in the middle of the night, unsure if my own bedroom is mine. It looks familiar, but am I back home? And what is home? I think I have more than one.
I spent three weeks in Macedonia, from May 15 to June 5. This is the place I was born and lived until I was 16. And I can safely call it home, because even after 18 years of my absence, going back to it, it still felt comfortable, familiar, inviting, despite the fact that it has changed in it's appearance.
On the very first day after we arrived, I let my son and husband sleep, while myself, overwhelmed by the excitement to be in a place I know inside and out, took my daughter for a walk to see my grandpa. And on our first walk in Macedonia, in the playground of the kindergarten where my brother used to go, we found a 4 leaf clover. It's a sign, I thought, we will have a great time here.
My kids enjoyed playing in every single playground, and there was one on almost every corner. Now they are nothing special in comparison to the American playgrounds, and almost every time some of the equipment was broken. And still somehow they felt dear to me, with all of their imperfections. My kids' favorite, this spinning thing, that I don't know the name for, and there is nothing like that on American playgrounds.
(the apartment where I grew up, my parents sold it to one of my dad's cousins. So I was lucky to be able to visit inside).
I visited the neighborhood where I lived on several occasions. Trees have grown three times the size they were when I lived there. Many new playgrounds and landscapes have been added. But they didn't feel foreign to me. It's like being away from home, and upon returning someone has done a make-over to your place just they way you would wanted to be.
I found this on the concrete foundation of one of the fences. The names of two boys (now men) that lived in the same building. I am pretty sure it's them, although it could be kids from the newer generation.
The city has changed in the way of more buildings being built, where previously there were only fields. And the downtown has been decorated with monuments. Many locals will complain about the government spending on these buildings and monuments, questioning the purpose, the ownership of the heros, the style etc. (baroque looking buildings that are homes to museums).
I didn't take many pictures of that, I simply enjoyed the surrounding without judging whether or not it should be there.
There is one place that if I went back to live in Skopje, I'd be visiting every week on my days off. The mountain Vodno. It stands tall on the south side of the city, and in the last few years a big cross has been erected on it's top, so you won't miss it. For those who are athletic and without little kids like myself, you can conquer this mountain in less than a day. I have done it several times in my teens when I lived there. Nowadays, an airtram will take you up on the the top, where you can enjoy a view of the city and its surroundings. There is a small restaurant, a playground, many picnic areas and a chance to hike down back to the city or on the other side of the city for those more adventurous.
And here is where I am going to wrap up this entry. I have a lot more to tell you about.