Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 Days in Review

Writing blog posts now is hard, not because there is nothing to report, but because everyday there is so much that is new. I guess I will write about the highlights since my last post.

Jori was still at my house (she was here all weekend). We had a great talk Friday night about my host family, TEFL, and PC in general. She had a lot of great advice that, along with what I have been told by other PCVs, has given me a much better idea about what I will be doing until 2013.

Julie, Boban, Zdravche, Anna, Jovan, Me
A group of us went to Pastrmailijafest in the neighbouring town of Shtip. There were 8 of us total (Julie, Andres, Morgan, Anna, and I for the Americans and Jovan, Zdravche, and Boban for the Macedonians). There had been much discussion trying to figure this all out because PC has a policy regarding travel for PCTs and you are not allowed to travel out of your village during the first three weeks unless you are with your host family. Well, Julie had Jovan and I had Zdravche, so we were fine, but no one else's family was going. However, after quite a few phone calls to the PST director and the Homestay Coordinator, everyone got approved to go. Pastrmailija is a Macedonian pizza-like food without cheese or sauce, just dough with seasoned pork. It is very good. At Pastrmailijafest, we ate, drank, listened to the bands playing, and of course people watched (which included watching some young boys dancing in the street and trying to hit each other in inappropriate places- lets just say 9 year old boys are the same everywhere!).

Morgan, Julie, Me, Jovan, and Andres is laying in front
After a little while, Anna, Zdravche, Boban, and I went to a disko. Anna and I felt incredibly underdressed as we were wearing just regular clothes, but one thing we have learned about Macedonian girls is they dress up to the 9's. My LCF said that even if a girl doesn't have 200 denari in her purse to buy a drink, she will look like she is dressed for the Academy Awards. We talked for a while, participated in more people watching, then once the others joined us, we decided to take the opportunity to work on PC Goal #2 (Helping promote better understanding of Americans on the part of peoples served) and busted out some of our best American dance moves (which really just meant we actually danced as Macedonians, as a rule, don't really dance at bars/clubs). We even got our Macedonian counterparts to join in with us.

I hung out at home with my family and Jori until Jori's bus left. Then Bojana and I went to watch Zdravche's football game. There, we met Julie and Jovan, Morgan, and Andres. Lozovo won and Andres managed to catch the winning goal on camera and later played it back for the man who scored the goal. We hung out at the motel for a little while, before parting ways. Shannon then came over to my house to work on homework. She and I ended up having a 45 minute conversation with my host mother in Macedonian and legitimately understood like 75% of it. I have learned that I feel so much more comfortable with my knowledge of Macedonian and using it when I have another American with me and I have heard others say the same. It is so much easier to tag-team it as we all have learned some different words and phrases.

Monday wasn't too eventful. We had class until 4:00, then I did homework, ate, went to my host Baba's house to visit my host cousin who was there, did homework, then played cards with my host sister and brother.

We had class until around 1:30 on Tuesday. After class, Shannon and I went to her house to work on homework, but ended up spending our time there making small talk with her family. We also ate lunch there. Shannon had been bragging up how good the food was at her house (which I still think mine might be the best...just sayin') so she was excited to see her host mom and sister preparing spaghetti as the last time they had it, it was absolutely amazing I guess. Well, this time, we were served tuna spaghetti. Neither one of us likes canned tuna, but we ate it anyway (I think we all have this desire to always be polite, which sometimes makes us stomach things we don't really enjoy) and although I didn't enjoy it, it wasn't the worst thing I have ever eaten.

After lunch, it was such a nice day that we decided to go find somewhere in the village to sit and do our homework. On our walk towards the train tracks, there was a man with a herd of goats walking down the street in front of us. We both had seen goats before, but never really up close and personal, and we certainly did get more personal with them than either one of us ever hoped we would. The goats were dropping pellets everywhere (if you haven't seen a goat poop up close, it is in a very very odd way, kind of interesting) and peeing (you do not want to be anywhere within 3 feet of a goat when it pees or your feet will be soaking wet). We were trying to be polite and have a conversation with the herdsman while walking, but it was quite hard with all of this going on, however we were doing pretty good. Then one of the goats mounted another one and we lost it. I mean really, how can you have a conversation with someone when two goats are getting busy right in front of you?

After we left the goats on one side of the train tracks, we sat down to do our homework and were literally 2 minutes into it when three children approached us, curious about us, so we used our limited Macedonian to talk to them. We discovered their names, ages, grades in school, and that one of the girl's dad works at a restaurant in Florida that is NOT by the ocean. We also found out where they live and told them where we live (in terms of the word there and pointing in the general direction).

Julie called right when we were exhausting our small talk and invited us to go on a hike with her and Jovan, so we put our homework away and went to join them. Now last time I went hiking with Julie and Jovan (when we went to Milino), we were walking along a road and the train tracks, so it was more walking, less hiking. I figured it would be about the same, so I threw on my TOMS and Shannon her sandals. We then took off on our hike, that Jovan said was to another village (with a much longer name, so I don't remember which village it was). Well this time, instead of walking along a paved road, we ended up trekking up a mountain through lots of tall plants and lots of burs. You're all smart people so you have figured out already that TOMS are not the best shoes for such an adventure. I got pricked and poked with every step, but it was amazing none-the-less. We got to see Lozovo from the top of the mountain and just look out over the beautiful countryside. Macedonia really is a gorgeous place. If you are up for an adventure, I would certainly recommend coming here.

Some highlights along the way include, finally really understanding what Goce (the PC Safety Coordinator) meant about the vicious wild packs of dogs (but don't worry, we were very vigilant, Goce's favourite word) and managed to come out unscathed, although one did almost bite Jovan. He was very nice and put himself between the dogs and Shannon, Julie, and I. We also saw some beekeepers in the village and were invited in to check out their bees. We even got to sample some fresh, sticky, honey, straight from the comb. Delicious!

Once we returned from our adventure, Shannon and I decided to continue our visiting of the American's houses and this time it was Andres's house. We were offered homemade wine that was delicious. Julie and Jovan came over a little later, and the five of us, plus Andres' host mom, Vera, played the game Pit. It was so much fun. Very fast paced, but enjoyable. Andres ended up narrowly beating both Jovan and me.

We left Andres's around 10:15 and Shannon and I went back to my house to quick do our homework, which proved to be slightly more difficult than we anticipated as my whole family was there watching us do it. When we finally finished, we were served dinner at like 11:15, even though neither of us were that hungry.

Today I haven't done a whole lot. I was at school until 1:30 and have been working on homework/pictures/this blog since then.

Things to Look Forward To
Tomorrow we have our site placement interviews, where we will be meeting with quite a few of the Peace Corps Coordinators to discuss what our preferences are for our permanent sites as well as talk about our skill sets so that they can match us with the best placement possible. Friday we are leaving Lozovo bright and early to drive back to Kumanovo for our first Hub Day. Hub Days are when they bring all of the trainees from the four communities together for a training session. I think we all are excited to see everyone else and hear how life in Macedonia is going for them. It has been two weeks since we have seen the others.

To mention again, I am uploading pictures to Facebook, but including links under the Photo Albums tab at the top of my blog. Check them out. Another great place for pictures is my friend Shannon's blog.

I would love any updates from home that anyone has. You can Facebook message me, Leave me a comment on here, Email me:, or Snail Mail me: Sara Scholin, Peace Corps Macedonia, Oslo 6, 1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, Eastern Europe. I think it takes about 10 days for a letter to come, which isn't too bad.

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