Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Just a week to go before we're sworn in as official Peace Corps volunteers. They flew in a bunch of turkeys from the US and we'll have a huge potluck dinner after our swearing in. I thought you'd like to see the wheel of sheep cheese I got in Gostivar - it was lovely. Below is a sign advertising a cafe in Gostivar - the Barack Obama Caffeteria - it's Albanian and male only, so sadly I won't ever get to see the inside!
I haven't said much about the Peace Corps in my blogs. They really take good care of us. We have 2 doctors and a safety and security officer to look out for us, and they have been giving us all kinds of trainings on top of our language training. Everyone is very supportive. We have our own quite extensive medical kits for first aid, and anyone can be called 24 hours a day if something happens. The experienced volunteers take care of us as well.
I've grown quite adept at traveling in all sorts of ways - taxis, buses, both local and country wide, trains and by foot. Each and every trip is a bit of an adventure. I went and visited Sveti Nikoli the other day. It is a Macedonian town, and like everywhere, I was greeted with the greatest of kindness and hospitality. The family I was staying with took me and another volunteer to a 'naming' party. People who are members of the Macedonian Orthodox Church are generally named for one of their saints, and when it's the Saint's day the person has a naming party. They invite all kinds of folks over and have a wonderful spread of food. We arrived at about 9 or 10 at night, and there were salad, veggies, and cold cuts laid out. We thought that was great and ate up, and then came out the main dishes....Yikes. They served sarma (stuffed cabbage), dolma(stuffed peppers), and I think pork tenderloin slices. After that was dessert - mind you we'd been eating all day and this was late at night! There was much discussion at the table and good fellowship. The Macedonians also have house naming day, which is the saint's day for their family saint. They again have a feast for people and bake bread and take it to the priest to have it blessed and the family members blessed. The day after Thanksgiving is the end of Hadj for the Albanians and is the big Bajram celebration - we had the little Bajram celebration at the end of Ramazan. So all of us living with Albanians are staying an additional day to celebrate with our families. Traditionally a ram is slaughtered to represent Allah giving food to a starving family. Oh, and there will be lots of food!
So Thanksgiving one day, Bajram the next. If you're worried about me getting enough to eat - don't! As you can see, I am well fed and if I keep going at this rate, I'll be very round when I return home. Things will be changing when I cook for myself, though! Mirupafshem!