Saturday, May 18, 2013

1st Annual Guthrie-Scholin Spring Wine Festival 2013

Phil and I had our first date at the 2012 Spring Wine Festival in Skopje. This year, we were unable to go to the 2013 Spring Wine Festival, so we decided to have our own wine festival and have decided to make this a yearly event (next year, we might even invite guests, depending on where in the world we are and if we have any friends!).

Without further ado, here is the 1st Annual Guthrie-School Spring Wine Festival- 2013, held in Shtip, Macedonia.

He might hate me for uploading this, but one of the most memorable moments of the 2012 Wine Festival, and the whole reason we went there, in fact, was that the 7:00pm bus was full, so we had to take the very last bus to Shtip- the 8:37 Strumica Express Komvi. Phil decided to make this a part of our 2013 event and turned himself into a Strumica Express komvi complete with a driver who was talking on his phone, smoking a cigarette (fake), and blaring turbo-folk music. His creativity is one of the many things I love about him!
We each had the job of buying some wine. Note- we did NOT drink it all. As an entrance fee into the 2012 Wine Fest, you had to buy your glasses, so Phil and I have nice glasses with the logo on it. This year, I thought I would surprise Phil with making us some glasses to commemorate this year's event. Well, with only about 1 hour and limited supplies (white nail polish), I had a few struggles. I spent the first 55 minutes trying to draw and cut out a template of the poster logo out of tape to stick on the glasses. Then I was going to paint over with the nail polish. FAIL. We ended up with glasses that just say "WINE" in big letters and the date on the base. I was quite frustrated they weren't perfect, but in the end, they are far more "Peace Corps-ish" this way.
The wine selection: A very nice Vranec from Bovin Winery in Negotino (the expensive 450 mkd bottle), the cheapest bottled Vranec you can buy, a Cabernet Sauvignon made here in Shtip, a gross jug of white wine that was left by another PCV who is famous for her love of large jugs of wine, a new one to us- a Vranec and Merlot mix, and a Kavadarka- a PCV red wine staple as its only 99 mkd. Again, we did NOT drink all of this.
One of my goals for this next year is to do a better job of taking people pictures, not just pictures of scenery, etc. The smoke from the grill made it a little hard.
The wind decided to switch directions.
We grilled pork kebabs and potatoes.
They were delicious!
And ate part of this massive vegan strawberry and coconut cream chocolate layered cake I made.
 It was a great night and I can't wait to see what is in store for the 2nd Annual Guthrie-Scholin Spring Wine Festival in 2014.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Crawling Under the Table

Easter, or Veligden, is a pretty important holiday here. Due to Macedonia using the Orthodox calendar, Easter fell in early May this year. Easter started early, however at school, where I taught my 5th graders about Easter in America and we compared it to Easter here. I taught them lots of new vocabulary words and at the end of the lesson they made mini picture dictionaries. My counterpart then took over Easter lessons day 2 and had the kids make Easter cards- one of which I was lucky enough to receive.

 Last year, I spent Easter in Kamenica and was able to partake in almost all of the traditional events, except for two- showering with red dyed Easter eggs on Thursday morning and crawling under the table at the church on Friday. I was able to cross one of those off my list this year. Phil and I mustered up enough courage to tackle crawling under the table on our own, so we went to the huge church in Shtip. Now, it doesn't sound like crawling under a table is so hard, but when you don't know the protocol, its a little intimidating. We bought our candles, light them, did a whole lot of crossing (half the time we did it the Orthodox way, the other half the Catholic way- neither one of us was raised in "crossing" families). We stood in the doorway of the church for a little bit watching others. I had a fairly good idea of what should go on after talking about it in school, but observing for a little bit definitely helped. We paid our 10 mkd to the pope who put oil on our foreheads, asked our names, and then blessed us. Then we stood in line in front of the table. At the table we paid another 10 mkd to kiss a picture of Jesus and crawl under the table. Upon exiting the table, we had water generously sprinkled all over us. Then it was another 10 mkd to kiss another picture and more crossing. Somewhere in there we were supposed to take a branch, but that step wasn't obvious, so we left the church branchless- I guess no good health for us, despite having been reborn (crawling out from under the table symbolizes re-exiting the womb if you hadn't picked up on that).

Our next Easter activity was heading to Kratovo to Phil's host family's house. I had met his host parents once in November when the Mak-17s were sworn in, but it was a super quick and awkward meeting, and I had never been to Kratovo, so this seemed like a good opportunity. We had been planning on going after the Spelling Bee, but due to the buses suddenly deciding not to run, we were unable to go.

We got to explore the whole town, eat Kratovo's pastramajka (the Kratovo version of pastramalija), attend the midnight church service on Easter while attempting to keep our candles lit, and spend some time with his host parents and sister. It was a great little trip and as usual, I will let the pictures do most of the talking.
Exploring the town.
Kratovo is one of the older towns here in Macedonia and built in the crater of a dormant volcano. It is filled with lots of hills and bridges.

Phil's new Peace Corps house perhaps?
Phil's host sister took us into one of the lesser known places in Kratovo- one of the caves that connected all of the towers together during Ottoman rule.
Phil's host mother's beautifully dyed eggs.
His mother insisted on getting a picture of him with the eggs.