An afternoon in Ohrid

Sunday, June 3, 2012

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.


  1. Candice,
    My name is Harry Sargent and I am leaving for Macedonia in September, am around your age ( a bit older and male)and would like to know if you have suggestions of what to bring, or not bring, that you did or did not. I live in Oregon (originally from Connecticut)so am somewhat used to rain, snow and cold. Also, any recommendations on getting a head start on the language would be appreciated. You can respond to my email at Thanks

  2. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Macedonia? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Macedonia in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia,39
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez