We felt at home at Divna's, but there was something freeing about having our experience in Milka's restaurant. Homestays are now a big part of our traveling experience, we try to set one up in each country if we can. Still, we worry about crossing the line between paying guests and house invaders. No one has ever made us feel this way, especially not Divna, but it feels much less intrusive taking up someone's time with questions when you aren't also pulling them away from their own dinner, family and/or favorite television show. Milka's restaurant was decked out in full traditional kitsch, but her low, neat ponytail, athletic shoes and zip-up vest over a v-neck t-shirt harkened back to her 18 years in Sweden. Like almost everyone else who grew up in Brajčino, she left during young adulthood. It was wonderful to talk to her about life before and life now, about her recipes, the sources of her ingredients and her family.
In the morning, we'd hear Divna setting up the breakfast table, beneath the grape arbor. The vines had recently been pruned, so a drop of sap would drip onto our scalps or into our cups of coffee now and then. The old women of the town would come and visit her as she ate and would, later, recognize us in town. One, who rose no higher than Merlin's bellybutton and who we'd seen weeding a large garden the day before, spoke rapidly to us as we waited for the minibus. Afterward, we decided that she must have been trying to figure out if we were the great grandchildren of one of her friends who'd moved to America. Milka's daughters are in Sweden and Australia now. The Aussie one has two boys and is pregnant again. Milka is hoping for a girl. That way, she explained, she can pass down all of her secret recipes.