An afternoon in Ohrid

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Friends, part II

I had to leave my last post because a friend had called to ask me out to coffee.  Ilmi works for an international organization in Macedonia and lives in Gostivar.  I met him through another Peace Corps volunteer.  He is delightful, and periodically we meet for coffee to talk about Macedonia and the world.  Today he had his youngest son with him while his wife was at a wedding celebration, and we had ice cream, drank coffee and talked.  He is typical of the people I've met here and cannot do enough to help out a volunteer.  One day this summer he will take me along with his family to a beautiful spot near Kichevo for a picnic, and I am very much looking forward to it.  I so enjoy our conversations, and he has taught me a lot about Macedonia and its sometimes uneven march towards democracy.  He always ends our visits saying if there is anything he can help me with, he will, and I know that is not an empty promise.

Papa with my friend Jane
Those who know me know it is difficult for me not to have a pet.  I have recently developed two more 'friends' here.  Papagal is the Macedonian and Albanian word for parakeet.  I found a pet store earlier this summer and bought Papa.  He has been a mixed blessing.  He has systematically destroyed some of my plants, and his favorite entertainment is to land on my computer while I am working, jump down on my hands, and bite me.  I need to find him a cuttle bone so he can work his beak on something besides my hands!  But he is entertaining.  My second friend has been Spike.  Gostivar has many dogs, most of which do not have homes but wander the streets keeping the town free from rodents and cleaning up garbage.  Their life spans tend to be short.  Spike showed up starving and mangy outside my apartment building a week or so ago.  I am feeding him and today gave him a bath and mange treatment.  He is pretty ugly but very sweet.  He knows the rules - he is not to come into the apartment building, but comes when I whistle for him and sits at the end of the street whining when I go somewhere.  After I feed and play with him he sits outside the door watching me go upstairs with a forlorn look on his face.  Feeding Spike has had an unintended consequence.  All the neighborhood children come and talk to me when I'm outside with Spike.  One of the boys upstairs named him, and two young girls helped me give him his bath this morning.  It's brought me closer to the kids here and they watch what I do with him.  One young boy today said we needed to call Cesar Milan to help us train him - yes - Dog Whisperer is on TV here!  Spike's future is uncertain, but at least for now he is doing well and getting some attention.

I often think of the first few weeks and months here - not infrequently I felt alone and every new thing I did was a challenge.  That's not totally gone away, but for the most part Gostivar and Macedonia have the familiar feel of home.  My friends have had a lot to do with that.  Luli and his family have made me part of their family, and my friends have sustained my spirit.  I thank them all.


  1. Hi, I have been visiting your blog. ¡Congratulations for your work! I invite you to visit my blog about literature, philosophy and films:

    Greetings from Santa Marta, Colombia

    Hola: Soy docente acá en Colombia y admiro la labor que desarrollan los miembros de los Cuerpos de Paz en muchos lugares del mundo con gran sentido de solidaridad. ¡Felicitaciones!

  2. Hi Candy,
    This and your previous posting have made me all the more eager to get past Staging, through Training and become settled in site.
    Please keep posting about your experiences.
    I am looking forward to meeting you in person.
    Continued best wishes!

  3. Candy, thanks for being honest about your feelings, especially loneliness, in a new country. Cannot wait to meet you.