Macedonia 2012: Welcome to Bitola

After nearly four hours on an old bus making it’s way from the north to south of Macedonia, I think Tansu and I were both quite pleased to see our uncle waiting at the station. Back at the house, I “reunited” with and met more and more family members. I use “reunited” because my aunt last saw me in 1994, she believes, when my mom dropped me off at my grandparent’s home before work and my dad with, she remembers, his shoulder length bleach blonde hair picked me up. Nothing like the clash of my proper, traditional Albanian mother and “wild side” American father, ;-).

My Bitola in Bullets:

  • Food: From pizza to Albanian breakfasts to sweets every night to entire bags of chips between us girls at night to a cozy cup of coffee, my aunt made sure I ate plenty.
  • More food but in the city: Yeah, guilty as charged. Ice cream one day, coffees the next. In our defense, it was rainy so parks were out of question, I couldn’t pray so the mosques weren’t a stellar idea, and that is essentially Bitola in walking distance.
  • Films: Again, it was rainy so we cuddled up inside… A lot.

We might not have been constantly occupied, but 1. you honestly cannot predict or control the weather so it is better to enjoy the company inside than moan at the lack of ability to wander outside and 2. my family is just such a blessing, alhamdulillah, always doing their best in each city to make me feel welcome.

Oh, also, my aunt insists that this shouldn’t be the only time she sees me in Macedonia and you know what? She’s absolutely right. Just like my mom used to spend her childhood summers exploring the country that raised her mother, I should “visit back home” more often too. I may not have been born in Macedonia (actually, I may not even *be* Macedonia) and my father might be American, but my roots are in Macedonia and Albania. My upbringing was swayed by these countries. Maybe we can convince my dajë (uncle) to send my cousin to the US every other summer if I come the next years, ;-).

Okay, okay, enough dreaming for now… So what about you? Do you have a place that you travel to while simultaneously “going home”?


About Toni Lupro

"I've got a plan, I've got an atlas in my hands."

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