I landed in Skopje early Monday morning, somewhere between 9 and 10. The experience was relatively hassle-free. We once again exited the plane directly onto the runway, something of excitement that I’m still not used to, where I snapped a single photo before getting hurried inside. It was an unexpected sight though, how the airport was situated between mountains, something I’d never associated with Macedonia. Customs didn’t bother to ask for proof of my exit within 90 days — I wonder now if it was for lack of concern that an “American” would want to stay that long or to prevent issues with the language-barrier. After that and collecting my baggage, I walked out to the guest arrivals area and found my cousin and uncle instantly thanks to her “Toni Lupro” sign, ;-). It was my first time meeting either of them so we did our greetings, my uncle gathered my bags (how chivalrous), and we headed off to the car. Situations like this always bring me a bit of anxiety, hoping I won’t be the odd one out the entire time, but my cousin and I clicked instantly on the car ride home.
About her, let’s add a…
The Company: My cousin, Tansu, is nearly eighteen. We’re great at wasting time, talking about nonsense, and eating. She just moved back to Macedonia less than a year ago after a four year stint in Denmark and, well, hasn’t quite readjusted. We laughed about how she’s probably the worst tour guide because she has very little positive to say about the country. Of course, her parents were, more appropriately, my hosts, but they were often away at work or carrying on with life while Tansu had time off of school, perfect to keep me occupied… Or well, at least to allow me to be a bum with somebody else, ;-).
Anyway, between her and I, we spent full three days in Skopje (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). Not quite in line with what I’d imagined for this trip, we only left the house on Tuesday when we headed into Skopje for a few hours (see next post!) and spent the rest of the time essentially vegging out. Well, what can I say that I did new? We watched Gia and From Prada to Nada and some reality television shows. Oh, and we ate quite a bit though I don’t know that I was introduced to any new dishes in addition to the Albanian dishes we already eat back home.
So here’s what I’ve learned: traveling to visit family is different than traveling to see the world. When you’re with family, you’re on their schedule… They’re the ones hosting you, feeding you, translating for you, transporting you, etc. If sightseeing and days in the city are on their agenda, it works out for you, but that just hasn’t been *my* experience so far. I’m going to try to be more assertive next week, after a week of rolling with my cousin’s schedule, and hopefully see a few things, but until then, I’m trying to just enjoy what comes to me.
How is it usually when *you* see family? Is more of it spent catching up or out and about, enjoying the place?