An afternoon in Ohrid

Friday, February 19, 2010

small things part 2

As I said last time, there are lots of challenges and rewards here. My apartment is over an empty store, and with little to no insulation, my floors, which are mostly tile, are freezing all the time. For awhile I was having trouble sleeping because my feet were so cold and wouldn't warm up, but then remembered the elegant solution that my host family had for me at their house. I now fill a water bottle every night with hot (very hot) water and put it in my bed 5 minutes before I go to bed. Voila! A warm bed and a bottle to cuddle my feet around. Surprisingly, it stays warm all night. And to answer your question - no, I've never had trouble with leaks.

People must not read much in bed here, because it's rare that you see a nightstand. Because I needed something to put my c-pap machine on as well as a reading lamp, I started looking for a night table early. There are really no second hand stores here because if someone doesn't need something, surely there is a relative that does, and with my little Peace Corps living allowance I didn't have the money to buy a new table. I was looking around my bedroom when I realized I had something that would solve two problems at once. I piled my two big suitcases on top of each other and covered them with a table cloth, had an instant night stand and didn't have to find a storage space for my suitcases!

Now for the rewards. Last weekend we had a birthday party for two of our volunteers in Negotino, which is in the heart of the wine country of Macedonia. I stayed with two friends in the monastery above - gorgeous. It did have one slight disadvantage - the bathroom was down the stairs, across the courtyard, and behind the building. The person checking me in couldn't quite believe an older woman was staying there with those accommodations, but it was fine. I did wake up in the middle of the night thinking I needed to use the facilities, but was nervous about doing so. Finally I decided it would be better just to go find the bathroom rather than to lie awake and worry about it, so I slipped on my slippers and ventured down the stairs and across the way. The air was crisp but not too cold. The only problem was a dog growling to the left of me - was it going to attack? Was it tied? Who knew, I just knew I had to find the bathroom. Hmmm, I should have checked out exactly where it was before I went to bed..... Maybe it's this door with the unreadable (in the dark) message on the paper pinned to the door. Whew! Turned out the bathroom was as interesting as the monastery - it had definitely been build some time ago to accommodate a large number of monks. There were about 15 stalls on either side of the central washroom - all squat toilets. Across from the stalls was a trough - I think it was built for men! It actually turned out to be a refreshing break in the middle of the night, quiet and magical. The next morning was less magical when the bell tolled 43 times - once for each day of the year - at 7 the next morning. Do they really ring it 365 times at the end of the year? I'll have to go back to find out.

During the day on Saturday we went to the winery for wine tasting. It is a beautiful new winery - the industry is on the upswing in Macedonia. Most of the wineries mass produce wine for export to Germany to use to blend in with their wines, but this winery has investors that see the potential for good wines here in Macedonia. Tracy had arranged the wine tasting, and we had a room to ourselves at the top of the tower -beautiful. They served plates of salami, proschiutto, cheeses and bread with the tasting - yum. They gave us the wines made from Serbian and Macedonian grapes, though they do make Merlots and Cabernets as well. The wines were excellent, and the setting was spectacular!

That night we celebrated birthdays and saw the wood carvings done by the local woodcarvers guild - gorgeous! The next morning was the Negotino wine festival. Wineries set up booths on the square and gave out glasses of wine to all comers! They had a number of different folk dancing groups performing on stage, and it was a relaxing and pleasant occasion. I want to assure you all that I do work as well, and will one day write about that!


  1. Heck, my floors are always cold and always have been. You have just been spoilt I guess.