An afternoon in Ohrid

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Gordana, my friend and Macedonia tutor, took me up to the mountain village, Duf, that her father's family came from. Duf is high in the mountains of Macedonia, about 2000 meters up. Like many mountain villages, no one lives in Duf year round any more, but people have maintained or newly built some homes and come up for celebrations, weekends, and when it's hot down in the valley. Gordana's house is to the right - and to my surprise it wasn't primitive, but had gas, electricity, heat, and creature comforts! We took a short hike out to the viewpoint above. It was so good to be walking out in the woods and the views were spectacular. The Albanian name for Albania means eagle's nest, and that's what Duf reminded me of - being on top of the world looking down. People probably initially moved up there during a war to avoid the marauding armies tramping through the valleys, and they were able to scratch out a challenging living in that high isolation. They must have been in fantastic shape hiking up and down the mountain to get into town for anything! Although no one lives in mountain villages like Duf any longer, it retains a strong hold on family hearts, and they maintain the ownership of their land. Gordana, too, loves it, although she was born in Gostivar and never lived there on a permanent basis. With many young people leaving the country or moving to Skopje to try to find work, I wonder how long that attachment can be maintained.

We're also getting the first hints of spring - the early crocuses were all over. I saw snowdrops blooming, their heads bent over glancing at their home soil. Home is a powerful draw, and soon I will be back in NYC for Kacy's 30th birthday. It will be good to see them.

After returning from Africa I went to our mid-service conference. If I don't extend, I would only have 9 months left to serve. It is hard to believe that the time has passed so quickly. I may extend, though, and spend one more year here. There is still much to do and see. But for now, I am eagerly anticipating the beauty of the Macedonian spring, and all the fresh fruits and vegetables that will soon be in the pazars. Yummmmmm, fresh and local, succulent and ripe when you buy them, not a week or so afterward!


  1. i can't stop thinking about the strawberries and cherries i'll be able to eat soon, making up for my nearly fruit-free winter. (somehow i get tired of bananas and apples after two months.) last year i made myself sick by getting too excited, buying like 2 kilos of strawberries and one of cherries on one pazar day, then trying to eat them all before they went bad. oh, for it to be spring again...

    -- ellen

  2. First signs of spring here too, pussy willows in full bloom. I'd stay another year, it seems great that you can travel there too. Kacy's 30 th birthday , very interesting. b