|Arriving at Sv. Jovan Bigorski|
Last weekend a group of us went to the small mountain village of Jance to stay stay in the hotel owned by my friend Tefik Tefikovski and see some of the marvels of far western Macedonia. I've written a bit about Jance before, which is located in one of the main national parks, Mavrovo. The scenery there takes my breathe away every time, but this visit was special. Tefik had planned to go to Belgrade to the wedding of a cousin, but instead he stayed home in order to make our visit special. We stopped on the way in to tour the most famous monastery in Macedonia, Sv. Jovan Bigorsky, roughly translated as St. John of the lava rock! It is gorgeous and contains the most famous woodcarvings in all of Macedonia. Two brothers and their apprentices carved over 500 figures in a variety of Bible stories that span the front of the church. They took whole tree trunks and carved the middle out while leaving the figures on the outside. The Church also has some of the most famous relics in Macedonia, including a piece of the rib of John the Baptist. It was founded in the 9th century and many people credit it with healing their illnesses.
|Toasting with rakija|
|My friends Linda and Tefik|
|Some of the wonderful food|
|Ducking through the entrance of the min|
|Kerry in her hard hat|
|Meredith talked with Blake in front of a Crystal wall|
|The grounds of the monastery|
Finally we went to a natural hot spring spa and we were invited in by some locals who were already enjoying the healing warm waters. A couple of the group took them up on the invitation while the rest of us had lunch. After lunch, back to Gostivar so everyone could catch a bus to their particular home. It was a wonderful weekend with good friends, good food, gorgeous scenery, and interesting times.