30 Minutes in the Life: August 2022: Macedonia Day 1

In the last blog I gave a short synopsis of our trip to Macedonia. Check it out if you have not read it. I arrived home tired, and found that the jet lag was just crazy. We struggled for at least 10 days to get our bodies back in sync. Sometimes I think poor Luka is still struggling. For these blogs, the images are going to be a mix of not so great quality cellphone pics, as well as camera pics. It was just easier sometimes to grab my cell and take the pics.

Macedonia has been on the cards for a while, but Covid stopped it in 2020, and Richards health and Amy’s pregnancy stopped it in 2021. 2022 Amy and Daniel decided that they had waited long enough and they were going. Daniel really wanted us to go with so that we could meet his family. I plotted and planned, researched, and jotted down notes. Pulled up maps and made key references to places of interest. I am a planner. I probably over plan, however, I am also the kind of person that does not have to get to everything. I just want to know if I am missing out on anything.

11 days before we were due to leave, Snow and Rory, (Amy’s two cats) moved to our house. 10 days before we were due to leave we drove Amy, Daniel & Luka to Miami airport. Oh man, my heart was going on an airplane and I was not going with. I was going to miss that little man.

Finally D-day arrived and we were set to head out. I left Simba in charge of Moo, Snow and Rory. My good friend from down the road was willing to come in twice a day and take care of all 4 of them. Bags were packed and we were ready. We agreed to leave early. You never know what the traffic is going to be like driving to Miami and we had a good hour and a half to drive. Going through customs was quick and easy and then it was the coffee and breakfast while we waited. Our flight was through Turkish airlines and we were on board and ready to go fairly quickly. Amy warned me that they feed you pretty quickly once you are up in the air, but then don’t feed you until about 4 am Turkish time which is 10 pm our time. So a meal at noon and then nothing until 10pm is a long time. What I did find out flying back is there is food at the back that you can snack on but being up front I had no reason to go to the back. Talking food, I was pretty impressed with the food we were given on the flights.

The best part of our flight was that I had booked isle seats. I had two people sitting next to me and Richard had 3 seats to himself, so I shifted across to the free seat and my seat companions were forever thankful that they then had a seat between them.

After what felt like was forever on the flight, which in theory was 1am our time, we landed in Istanbul. Little did we know how big the airport was.

I feel like we landed on one end of the airport and had to work our way through to the furthest point of the airport to catch our connecting flight. The challenge that came was the flight was not showing on the board, and by the time we actually found out what gate we were leaving from we had 20 minutes to navigate this huge airport. Little did we know that there were walking escalators on the upper level. We really did not have time to take in the beauty of the airport, because we were rushing to catch our flight.

I needed a bathroom pitstop and so we found some signs that indicated there was a bathroom entry. I told Richard to stay exactly where he was and not to move. I then found myself entering the bowels (sic) of the airport. I felt like I walked forever before I found the ladies rest room. Navigating my way out, I come out at the entrance only to find that Richard is not there. I was so annoyed. I started walking knowing that I had to go down the walkway. As I started recognizing landmarks and I quickly discovered that the entrance I went in and the exit I came out of were not the same. Thankfully I found Richard standing exactly where he was supposed to be. Frustrated, I might add, because I had taken so long. Of course he is now on a mission to get to where we have to depart and we are virtually running to get there.

Flying from Istanbul to Skopje in Macedonia was on a much smaller plane. Initially I thought that we were going to be on a very roomy flight but that idea was quickly squished when a connecting flight boarded. I had two traveling companions next to me, a guy around my age, traveling with his mother. Richard had a mother and child, and the grandmother. The flight was uneventful until just before we were going to land. The wheels of the plane kicked out and then man next to me nearly jumped out his seat. He did the sign of the cross 3 times and then grabbed his mothers hand. He sat in this rigid position until we hit the tarmac with a bump, after which he gave thanks for the safe landing. Exiting the customs area was quick and hassle free.

And there he was, my heart, back in my arms again. I had missed this little face so much. I missed the cuddles on my Friday. I missed his smiles and his laughter. What a sweet moment it was to be able to just hug this little body again. Daniel, Amy and Luka came through to fetch us at the airport. My first impressions driving through from the airport to Daniel’s home town, was that it was similar to the Natal midlands in South Africa. A place we visited a lot growing up.

Macedonia covers an area of 25,713 km². It is not huge. Towns are scattered across the countryside, with Skopje being the capital. We were traveling an hour to a town called Vinica, where Daniel grew up. Most of his family live there. I will share more about the town in another blog.

We arrived at the hotel, had time to unpack, have a shower and then head up to Daniel’s moms home. What a sweet welcome with had, with hugs and tears. Our biggest challenge was language, with us not speaking Macedonian and Daniel’s mom not speaking English but the hugs made up for the difference. What a sweet, sweet time.

Aside from the greeting I was there with a purpose. Daniel was taking Richard for a beer, while Amy, Luka and I were joining the traditional bread making ceremony. Traditionally the family of the unmarried bride host a bread making ceremony. However, in this case, Daniel’s mom hosted the ceremony. The bread is shape in a round circle to symbolize something that has no beginning or end. Daniel’s young cousin, was the lady who made the bread. First the dough is made and kneaded, then it is patted in to the round dish, then Luka (who it appears is the star of the show) had to give his foot stamp of approval. While we were not looking a coin was placed in the bread mix, then Daniel’s cousin and his aunt created a beautiful design on the bread. and finally Daniel’s mom placed butter and oil onto the top of the bread.

The bread making ceremony was not just about making bread, it was the gathering of the women, the dancing of the traditional dance the Horo, and the drinking of rakija which is the traditional Macedonian drink. I have to confess it was a little strong for me, and I stuck to the giant beers 🙂 A little bit more information on the Horo. This is a traditional dance where the guests link hands and do this intricate little step (which I mastered at slow speed, and caved as it sped up) and they go around in a circle celebrating the event. This was a beautiful time of learning their traditions and hugging and smiling at everyone. The only word I knew was “Stravo” which means “hello” and I said that quite a bit.

Of course, the whole happening was about Amy and Daniel’s second wedding reception and Daniels family wanted to do this as a traditional wedding. Amy and Daniel got married in 2018 in the USA with just our immediate family and a few friends. Daniel’s family was not able to attend and it has always been their intention to have a ceremony in Macedonia for his family. So this was Amy’s bread making ceremony.

After the bread making ceremony Amy, Luka and I headed down to the Park where we joined Daniel and Richard for what must have been the largest beer I have ever drunk, and would continue to drink over the coming day.

We ended our evening off with the family gathering for dinner along with the two groomsmen. There was an enormous amount of food, lots of translations, and plenty of the bread that was baked earlier in the day. I did not tell you that the person who gets the piece of bread with the coin in it, is said to have luck for the coming year. That turned out to be Daniel’s mom. Hopefully she will be lucky and the embassy will grant her a visa to visit the USA in December.

Tired and weary we did our five minute walk back to our hotel. It had been a good day. My next blog I will share a bit about Vinica and the town itself.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what Kristina of Hello Olivia Photography has for you this month, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

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