An afternoon in Ohrid

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It keeps a'coming!

What greeted me in Gostivar!
 Saturday I was in Prilep to do a project design and management workshop for some wonderful teens in Phebe's CLIPS program.  Now project management and design is not the most fascinating subject for most people, much less high schoolers, but these kids jumped right in and designed some great projects, and it was truly a delight to get to work with them.  The only worry - it was snowing all day and I had to get back to Gostivar.  After a marvelous lunch at the only Thai restaurant in Macedonia, I hopped on the 4:30 combi that cut across the middle of Macedonia to Kichevo.  Halfway there, we were slipping and sliding all over the road, and the driver shouted out for people to sit in the back.  With the weight distributed over the rear axle, we made it safely to Kichevo, a little late but all in one piece.

The ticket master told me the bus to Gostivar was coming at 6:45, so I sat on the bench outside and waited.  A man asked me where I was going, and I said Gostivar.  He was going to Skopje, so we would be on the same bus.  Thank heavens.  The bus hadn't arrived by 7, but the ticketmaster stuck her head out the window and shouted something, and the man took off running.  Turned out the bus had decided not to come into the station, and we needed to meet it out on the highway.  I was very relieved when it arrived and I climbed on.

But that didn't last long.  About 20 minutes into the trip we came to a dead stop.  Traffic was piled up and not moving.  Of course, having been traveling now for several hours, I really needed to use a bathroom.  We were in the foothills of the mountains, cars, buses and trucks in front and in back, and no place to go.  I was trying to figure out what might be next - sleeping all night on the bus (but with no bathroom in sight), giving up on vanity and relieving myself in front of the world, or waiting for the bus to either turn around or get going.  Fortunately, after a half hour we did start moving again, and about 30 minutes later we reached the crest of the pass where the driver pulled over by the restaurant and gas station there and announced:  "Pauser.  Decet minuta."

The trip over the mountains was magical and felt like a Tim Burton set.  Snow was piled high on both sides, but tree branches covered in snow hung over and alongside the bus, like white fingers extending out from a tunnel trying to grab us.  There was not much we could ever see but white, white and more white.

Note the snow is piled higher than the car

When we reached Gostivar, the driver pulled over to the side of the road and dumped us Gostivarans out.  There was no way he was going to try to navigate the snowy streets of Gostivar.  I walked up the exit into Gostivar, wondering what I would do if a car came - the passage was only just wide enough for a car.  Fortunately none came, and I reached the surreal streets of Gostivar.

Looking down the narrow walkway
Since there were no taxis, I walked from the edge of town to my apartment.  It had snowed enough that the snow covered the ice well and it was not slippery, but the paths were narrow and the snow was piled up was higher than I am tall.  Lights were on, and occasionally I'd pass a cajtorija where men were playing cards.  It was quite beautiful and dramatic, quiet as only a city covered in deep snow can be.

I was very happy to get back to my apartment and snuggle in, but for the most part, I did enjoy the ride.  Each and every day is an adventure!!!

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