|The tent where I slept with the pasture in the background|
|One of the 1100 sheep at the camp|
|Me serving coffee to the shepherds and Hassan|
It was misty when we arrived, and the mist soon turned to a cold hard rain. Since it had been very warm in Gostivar up until the time we went up, I definitely underdressed! Akise brought up sarma (you may be more familiar with it called by its Greek name, dolma) and bread, which we combined with cheese, cheese and peppers, olives, and yogurt for a delicious dinner. The hut actually has power fueled by a small solar panel, and after dinner we looked at pictures of the area on Hassan's son's computer! Hmmm, where were we going to sleep? The shepherd's hut only had 3 beds, and there were 7 of us....But Luli must have read my mind. Shortly after we finished looking at the pictures, Hassan and Akise left and he told me they had gone to fix up the place we were going to sleep. We walked up the hill to the tent which held two double beds. Fully clothed, Luli and Hassan jumped into one bed and Akise and I into the other. I had been smart enough to restrict my fluid intake after dinner - there was no way I wanted to have to leave the tent, surrounded by sheep, goats, and huge Shar Planina sheep dogs, to pee in the middle of the night. The bed was actually very comfortable, and I went to sleep with a big smile on my face - now this really was Peace Corps!
We had another huge and wonderful meal in the morning that included the best hard goat cheese I have ever had, then spent the morning doing chores around the camp before the men moved the sheep out for their day's grazing. Akise never stopped working - she would complain about how with no women around the men let the camp get so dirty! I played with some adorable puppies from Akise's favorite dog - she looked to be part border collie and part mountain dog. As you can see, I also served coffee to the men - a traditional job for the woman!!! But I loved every minute of it - another treasured memory. We might go up again next weekend to slaughter a goat and salt it down using a tradition method called pastrimaja. I'm looking forward to it!
|The unbeatable team of Fezullai and Wiggum!|
|PCV's at Vrutok!|
|The bride and groom|
And eat - OMG, we ate! We started off with a table full of salads, cold cuts, cheese, and potatoes, and then the waiters brought chicken steak and what looked like a chicken fried steak. After awhile they brought a slice of veal and put on top of that, then after another pause to digest they brought a thin steak, followed after another pause by a slice of roast beef. I though we must be done, but at about midnight they cleared our plates and brought each of us an entire trout and french fries. All of this was accompanied by all the beer, wine, soda, or water you could drink.
|The dance group plus Luli and Lindi|
On top of all this, the new Peace Corps trainees arrived in September - the 17th group to arrive. I love watching thenew arrivals' nervousness, excitement and anticipation, knowing that their time will be filled with adventures and frustrations beyond their knowing and our ability to tell them. Living on your own in a different culture is fabulous, and it is also definitely challenging to be far away from home, know no one at your site, and have to figure out how to fit in, what to do, and how best to connect both at work and in your community. But what a ride! I think of returning and trying to explain it to someone else, and know that words will fail me. You just have to experience it to understand what a privilege it's been the last three years!