Happy Sunday! Sunday mornings I always fix myself a special brunch breakfast - today it was Macedonian Scramble - fried new potatoes, scrambled eggs, and ajvar! Yum. The strawberries are in and apricots are coming in - fresh wonderful luscious fruit.
It's been an interesting week, filled with the stuff that life is made of. First the sad, Luli's father died suddenly. He had a massive heart attack and stroke last Saturday and died Monday morning. Luli's week has been filled with the rituals that surround death. In Islam the body must be buried within 24 hours, so the first day is filled with preparing the body and burying it, all done by men. Then comes visitations by family and friends. There was a chair with a white cloth on it in front of Luli's house, which is both a way of announcing the death and an invitation to come visit. On Wednesday, I was invited to a big luncheon with family. The women gathered upstairs and the men outside in the family compound. First the younger women served the men, and then we older women came down and were served. Later, we returned upstairs for more visiting. I had trouble understanding the women who spoke Gostivarian Albanian, but one woman was nice enough to speak 'clean' Albanian - literature Albanian, and we chatted for quite some time. They were all so sweet, encouraging me to eat the special Albanian dessert and making sure I had everything I wanted. I shall so miss the sense of community that is here when I leave
Wednesday was also the day my friend Ilmi defended his master's thesis, so I went up to the university to watch it. Family and friends are invited, and Ilmi gave a presentation about his research. It's very interesting stuff - about cross municipal cooperation. As these countries develop their ways of governing, they struggle with what we struggle with - what should be handled locally and what in larger units? How do you balance the wisdom of small government that knows what's needed in the area with the efficiency of large government? I think of New Hampshire, which has tons of local control but is so bloody inefficient, and the battles between states rights and the federal government, and know all governments struggle with this. Right now the EU has a massive crisis and is desperately trying to figure it out what to do and how to do it. So anyway, it was a very interesting subject, and he is a leader in the field! After the presentation, his committee asked him questions and took a break so he could consider the answers, and then people in the audience asked questions. Of course he passed with flying colors, and afterward there was a celebration with goodies and drinks!
I've also been part of a team that interviews sites that would like to get a new volunteer. That too has been interesting. Organizations want volunteers for all kinds of reasons, and it's nice to be part of the process. I go to sites around Western Macedonia, and it's great, because I have met many of the people we interview. I can see how in 2.5 years I have become part of the Polog Valley region!
Finally, I helped organize a trip for 11 volunteers to go to my favorite hotel in Jance. On the way, they're going up into the mountains to ride horseback into a remote location and will have a game dinner - boar, rabbit, or venison. 9 of them crashed at my house the night before, and I'm anxious to hear their stories when they return today. I'm babysitting Spikers, so I couldn't go.