This past weekend I returned to my first Macedonian home, Lozovo to spend the weekend with my host family and celebrate my host sister's 15th birthday. This was the first time I had been back since Macedonian Christmas in January and the first time I was there as the only American, which gives the place a much different feel.
It felt so good being home. Many PCVs will agree with this sentiment, that when you are living with your host family, it can sometimes be challenging as many of us have not lived with a family in quite some time. However, going back to visit is amazing. It is so much clearer to me just how much they care about me and I am a member of the family. Going back now is so much more relaxing and comfortable and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have such a caring family.
The weekend started out on quite an interesting note as within an hour of being there one of my host parents just casually asked how much I was paying for electricity, which I haven't talked about too much on here, but it is a big topic currently. (Peace Corps allocates us money every three months to cover our electricity, however, there is a flat rate based on I am sure some very thorough research, however, everyone's situation is different. Because of the size of my house and the fact that I had to buy wood and pay for electricity, I have gotten kind of screwed in the electricity department.) After I told them how much I had paid for three months, my host father immediately grabbed his phone and wanted to call Peace Corps to discuss with them how this wasn't fair for me. It took my host sister, host mother, and I all talking him down into waiting until I had spoken with the Country Director. He then wanted my landlady's phone number so he could talk to her about what was going on, but after I refused to give him the number numerous times, he finally gave in and said he would wait until I had talked to Peace Corps. It was kind of funny, and really sweet, seeing how quick he lept into action ready to fight for me. I compare going to Lozovo like going home when you're in college- you get really excited to go home and you enjoy being there, but you also, after a few days, are ready to head back to your life.
I had a good time hanging out with the family, especially my host brother. He speaks basically 0 English, but somehow he is the member of the family that I feel the closest too. I think age helps as he is just a couple years younger than me, but has always acted like a protective older brother. I also got to spend some time with Kenzie's host family which was a lot of fun. Vedran still wins the cutest child contest and I left the house covered in small child kisses and hugs (always nice!)
On my way home, I had a stop off in Stip and got to hang out with a few other volunteers which just added to the enjoyment of the weekend. We hung out on Phil's fabulous balcony that overlooks the town and made a blanket tent (yes we might all be in our mid to late 20s, but that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy blanket tents and forts). And even better, there are plans in the works for a tent city sometime soon.