Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Fruit of Life

going to pick grapes

Tomorrow will be my 29th birthday and for a moment in time I wanted to be 28 for another year, stalling the aging process, but really there is no point in even thinking such things.

Today after school I went with my Мика to pick grapes for вино at баба's house. Most of the work was done by the time I got there, late in the afternoon. While we were working I was trying to think about whether I preferred planting or harvesting. What I concluded is that I enjoy both aspects of farming, planting because it means new beginnings, and harvesting because you are rewarded with the fruits of your labors.

Tomorrow is a HUB day in Peace Corps lingo, which mean all thirty-six of us gather from our four language communities and have a full day of workshops. We will be in Kumanovo again, where orientation week took place. I am hoping some people can hang around afterwards and celebrate with me.


first birthday gift, socks from баба
because my feet were cold

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In a family way

view of side yard from house

I have been in Macedonia for a total of two weeks, yet it already feels as though months have passed. My days are filled to the brim with new experiences and a vast amount of information, making my days feel as though they transcend the standard twenty-four hour period. In order to remember all that has occurred I am looking back through my journal, notes pecked out on my phone, and pictures that are now on my hard drive.

Right now I am in the community called Romanovce, it is five kilometers from Kumanovo, where I spent my first week during orientation. I am living with a family of four, Aco and Biljana are my host parents and Eleonora (8) and Leonid (4) are my host sister and brother. The town is a mixed ethnic, rural community, meaning there are Macedonians and Albanians that coexsist harmoniously in the town. Romanovce is rural in the fact that there is one main paved road through town and three or four paved roads off that which lead to dirt driveways of the houses within the community. Every household has some combination of chickens, pigs, cows, and goats. And everyone has at least one guard dog that springs into barking action if you cross onto the property.

Romanovce has a primary school, two corner shops, and a café where we get coffee during our breaks in our language lessons. I have language class Monday through Friday from eight in the morning till noon. Albanian lessons are Monday and Tuesday and Macedonian is on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Looking back I remember how funny and embarrassing it was trying to help my host father get my two huge suitcases in their car and how my host mom sat squished in the back next to all my stuff. Fortunately we made it safely to the house, but I vowed to myself to try to downsize my belongings, at least by the time I am ready to head back to the US.

I am so thankful for my host family. They are funny and loving, taking me in as if I was truly one of their own. Many nights are spent at the dining room table, where I am working on my Macedonian homework, Eleonora is practicing her English, and Aco is tending to the work he’s brought home. My host mom has tried to feed me either ice cream or chocolate every day since I’ve been here. She has also let me make her coffee, my-style, in the French press I brought from the States. My first weekend in Romanovce was spent with aunts, uncles, and cousins over at our house and then again at the maternal grandmother’s house on Saturday.

I am blessed to feel as comfortable as I do with my family. They have made me feel as though I am truly an older sister. I tease and play with the kids and the babas pinch my cheeks. My host mom is wonderful about making sure I feel included and taking me along to all the various activities. I hope to learn as much as I can about the culture and language from my host family.

host father attempting to put my bags in the car

going to grandmother's house

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The time has come, I am in Macedonia, me and all the stuff I have packed. It's great so far. I have been able to rest this afternoon and got in a two hour nap. Tomorrow we get started right off the bat with language lessons and safety information. I have already pulled together a group of people for a quick run in the morning, mission accomplished. Above is a picture of the brand new airport that just opened a few days ago.

When we arrived we were told that we are part of a very important time: It's the 50th anniversary for the Peace Corps, the 15th anniversary of PC in Macedonia, and the 20th anniversary of Macedonia's independence. So lots of reasons to celebrate this year.

I remember some one asking me what side of the road people drive on. Well, inquiring minds can rest easy, it's the same side as America.

Since I've been here we've basically just ate lunch and then dinner, they had a time where we could ask current two year volunteers any questions that were on our minds and now some people have waked into town, others (like me) are online, and there is a group outside in one of the cabanas playing cards.

Well, that's all the info I can squeeze out of my brain for the time being.

I love and miss you all so much!