Thursday, January 21, 2010
It's a quiet, peaceful day in Gostivar. It's snowing lightly, and the sounds from the train and bus station are softly filtering through into my apartment. I have been pleasantly surprised by the weather. I thought it would be more like New Hampshire from the description, but we've only had a couple of big snow storms and they've melted within a couple of days. Temperatures now hover around freezing and it's been cloudy a lot, but I still see the grass and it's been a good winter for the sheep. The surrounding mountains often have a gentle veil of snow covering the trees, giving them a magical aspect and adding to the surrounding beauty.
I've been contemplating how you never know what arcane skills will come in useful. When I received my acceptance letter that said I would be assigned to an NGO in Macedonia, I figured it would be one that was either associated with education or women. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would call upon my years on the farm and be assigned to the sheepbreeders association. Yet here I am. And the project we've been working on is writing a grant for an agricultural museum to preserve knowledge from the traditional ways of farming before the EU sweeps in and farming, by necessity, needs to become more of a business. And I find myself using things I learned from my time on the board for the Marlow Historical Society and grant-writing at Keene State. It's been fun to bring all these disparate things together.
The day after the carnival at Vevchani (and now that I seem to have consistently working internet again I've attached another video clip showing the devils sweeping away fears with cow tails - just hit the play button if it looks gray), a group of us went to the small village of Radozhja on the other side of the lake from Ohrid. If you look closely at the picture above you can see the small church built into a cave in the cliff. It was a healthy climb up the stairs, but well worth it. To our right were goats grazing among the rocks, and down below we could see fishermen throwing their nets into the lake from small boats. Across the water was the city of Ohrid and to the right was Struga. The Church was beautiful as ancient orthodox churches are - old icons and holy relics that people came to pray to. After we walked through the village, again meeting nothing but friendly and helpful villagers, to the Via Ignatcio, which looks like a path through the woods but was an ancient road built by the Romans through Albania to Macedonia. Think about how old the road that I walked on was - it boggles my mind! Walking along the road did remind me of my beloved walks in New Hampshire - I was surrounded by oak trees and stone walls. We went to a newer church that was built in the middle of the woods and then returned to the village for a taxi ride back to Struga and a delicious meal. All in all a happy and satisfying day.