An afternoon in Ohrid

Friday, August 27, 2010

You never know what's going to happen in Macedonia. Yesterday I was returning from Ohrid. I'd caught the bus that drops me off by the side of the highway outside of Gostivar, forlorn and smattered by dust as the bus pulls away. Because it was a highway drop bus, I'd carried my backpack and swimming bag aboard the bus with me, hoping that I could have a row all for myself and my stuff. We pulled out of the Ohrid bus stop - so far so good, the bus wasn't full and no one challenged me for the space by me. We picked up a couple of passengers along the way as we left Ohrid, but, phew, still had my spot. I put on my Ipod headphones and shut out the world - it's a 2.5 hour, hot trip. When we pulled into Kichevo some people got off the bus and some on. I felt safe - the only person who didn't have a seat was a man, and they usually sit with other men. But before I knew it, he was standing by me saying "Moshe?" I looked up in some distress and he saw all my stuff and started to turn away, but then turned back and I made room for him. Dang......

We rode up to the rest stop on top of the mountain in silence. After we reboarded I noticed him talking to the other American on the bus, so when he returned I decided to be at least a little more friendly. And what a treat it was! He was a charming young man who spoke English. He was an Albanian from Kichevo who had studied bioengineering for the past 6 or 7 years in Austria, and is going this fall for his masters in Switzerland. There he will do research on the role of a couple of enzymes in attaching prions in the brain for such things as mad cow disease and other brain diseases. His hope for the future is to go for his PhD in the US where he would really like to work on autism research. He was thinking he'd like to go to Boston or LA, but I tried to talk him into Berkeley and the Bay area. Like many Macedonians,however, he is a mad basketball fan, and would die to see a Lakers game in person. We had the best conversation. Ipods are the curse of the modern world......

I was returning from Ohrid after attending another of the many festivals. Last week the Sheepbreeders Association had helped put on the annual wine and cheese festival, and this week was the choral festival. The both festivals were great! For the choral festival, groups from all over Europe - Lithuania, Russia, Romania,etc., come to Ohrid for a competition, and afterwards wander through the tourist areas, find a spot, set up, and sing. Many wear their national costumes and carry their flags. The group above is a youth group from Spain. We just walked around going from one group to another listening to fantastic music. As Benson said, whoever thought that we'd be in Macedonia listening to a Czech group sing salsa music? We missed the group from the Congo, but heard groups from Switzerland, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain, and some others we weren't sure of. It's an amazing world!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, sounds like another wonderful trip. Missing you. b