|Spike's passport picture|
I've been thinking of all the things I will miss about Macedonia and have made a partial list.
|Luli, Elona, kids and extended family|
|Gordana, her parents and Goran|
|Vjosa's Mom (Halide) and Dad (Billy)|
3. The smell of chestnuts roasting. I remember the smell of chestnuts roasting when I lived in New York City right after college, but by the time Kacy moved to New York they had disappeared. Here, in the fall and winter, the chestnut vendors stand outside my door and on the main square selling cones of chestnuts for about 50 cents. (In the summer they sell corn on the cob). I will miss these street side vendors who add to the ambiance of Gostivar.
4. Being spoiled. Everyone, i mean everyone, spoils me rotten here. I am 'the American'. I am given the best of everything, whether it's the best seat by the fire or the best cut of meat at a meal. I am greeted with enthusiasm on the street by lots of people, even though I may have trouble remembering them. It is heady stuff, being special, and when I return I'll just be another LOL (little old lady).
|A sheepbreeders meeting|
|The Skopje-Kriva Palanka bus|
7. The call to prayer. When I first came to Macedonia, I stayed with a family that lived right next to the Xhamija (mosque). I cursed the call to prayer as it boomed into my bedroom at 5:15 from the loudspeaker outside my window. But I shall miss it when I return. The call marks time during the day and soothes the soul. Each xhamija's call is different, but when they blend and float over the city, it is beautiful
|Lunch at Hotel Tutto|
9. The challenges. Living in a different culture with different traditions and languages presented challenges every day. If I wanted to buy something, hmmm, where might I be able to do that? How could I make myself understood when I was trying to ask something? What is the right thing to do in this situation? Every day was a different challenge. It kept the adrenaline flowing, and every day I learned new things. I fear it will be boring to return where things are predictable, where it is easy to find what you want, and where everyone understands what you say but may not listen to you.
12. Adventure. Speaking of adventures, Peace Corps has given me the opportunity to have more adventures than I can even begin to recount, both in Macedonia and in places I never thought I would go. It's taught me how to travel, not impersonally only seeing the sights, but to find out about life and make connections wherever I go. It's not about being comfortable, it's about experiencing the place and the people, and pushing my own boundaries wherever I am. I shall be eternally grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience all that I have in these past three plus years. I consider myself to be the luckiest of people!
And now the sun is setting on this part of my life (is that too corny? I just love this picture!) I look forward to returning home and seeing my family and friends there. I am still trying to figure out what is next for me - for now I shall continue to travel and see those folks that I have missed these last three years. But Macedonia and Peace Corps will always be in my heart, and soon I shall return for a visit. If you have stayed with this blog entry to the very end, bless you! And thanks for letting me share my journey with you.