I’ve started enforcing at least one day a week that is my lazy day–watch a movie, read a book, do my laundry and no mysafir. Last week started out fairly quiet. We had Easter Monday off and so I went on a mysafir and immediately regretted it. What was promised to be one hour turned into 2.5 hours. I know better! Never believe anyone who says you will mysafir for an hour. It is virtually impossible. And the volume at them would seem to me that I need to take my earplugs with me. But I eventually got home and had a chance to get my hair trimmed.
I knew I would have four days of school with tests in two classes and an all school meeting on Wednesday. On Thursday the doctor was coming to visit and he was bringing the nurse with him. This was an interview visit to see how I deal with stress, do I have any concerns etc. (Stress, what is that?) We ended up talking about cooking and GLOW. And what are my plans for the summer? However, about ten minutes before they arrived I received a phone call telling me that I would have a visitor at school the next day. Our new DPT wanted to visit the local volunteers and get a sense for our work sites before our IST this coming week. So I called the School Director and invited her to come as well. So here we go—mysafir again! Then it was off to Tetovo that afternoon for the Tetovo region spelling bee. Did not get home until 8 PM on Saturday. We had a wonderful day and a nice get together afterwards but the bus schedules just kill me. I had to wait over an hour for my local bus. On the weekends, they run much less frequently. I got back to Skopje at about 6 PM and had obviously missed the 4.20 bus so had to wait for the 7.15 one. And then factor into the week a death in the extended family where various members of the family would disappear for most of the day because the festivities (?) were all occurring in Kosovo!
Now we arrive at insanity at its best. I teach tomorrow, then head to the American Corner to tutor Zoki. Then back home, finish packing up my suitcase for four days of training in Skopje and–oh don’t forget to bring your computer and policy book. So today was get the laundry done–and since there is no dryer it had to be done today so that it has time to dry. But oh, line dried clothes smell so nice and fresh. Then I will come home on Friday in time for dinner just to get up and head out to Šuto Orizari, home of the Roma population in the area, for a six hour meeting on Saturday and oh, yes, lunch is a pot luck. Bring your favorite dish. I’m thinking either chocolate or wine! Now I arrive at next Sunday and take time to get the laundry done again for another crazy week. I have a major GLOW information session on Wednesday night and my husband arrives sometime on Thursday for a three day visit, so I have to repack my suitcase to spend a couple of days with him. Fortunately Friday is a holiday so I don’t have work but that also means the crazy bus schedule. And now I find out that the day after Labor Day is celebrated by people going on picnics. I have been advised that that is probably not a good day to take him to Matka. Monday he leaves and the following weekend is the National Spelling Bee which many volunteers will be in town to help with and the Skopje/Wizz Air marathon which many PCV’s are running so the non-runners among us are heading down to cheer them on. Then we have Special Needs training in the middle of the next week. So I’m pretty booked up for the next month. I’m anxious for school to be out for a break but I will still be busy getting ready for GLOW and getting through Ramadan.
Man, our lives can get so insane. Last weekend we had the Skopje regional spelling bee and it kept us busy all weekend. Next weekend we have the Tetovo regional spelling bee and then a full week of in service training. This weekend is Orthodox Easter and so we decided to get a way for a couple of days and headed up to Matka Canyon. This is actually part of the City of Skopje. Oh, my goodness. I can’t begin to say enough beautiful things about it and the serenity of it. They greeted us with a bottle of wine with absolutely beautiful wine glasses (the hotels here seem to do that) and a willingness to accommodate our every wish. It was so nice. The view from our room was spectacular. The breakfast provided with our room was excellent and incredibly filling and included whatever we wanted to drink with our meal.
However. And isn’t there always a however? The toilet paper: it was incredibly difficult to remove from the roll, so for those of us who might need to go to the bathroom during the night, we took pieces of it off the roll and hung it on the towel rack. It was a particularly noisy operation and we didn’t want to wake everyone up. The heat got turned off at 10 PM and did not return until 7 AM. Breakfast, as good as it was, did not get served until 9 AM (horrendously late for me!)
The menu was quite pricey but it was the only game in town so on Friday night we ate there. However, on Saturday we headed into the mall in Skopje (20 minutes by bus) and had a wonderful and incredibly filling lunch and picked up crackers, cheese, and chocolate to go with the fruit stashed in our room for dinner. On the way back, as we exited the village of Gllumovë, the bus stopped, backed into a side street and had everyone get off. Um, what is the issue? We have no idea, but we now have to walk back to the hotel–about 3 miles and most of it uphill. We took our time and admired the countryside coming to life. We got back to the hotel in time to sit out on the deck and play a couple of games of banana grams and drink some wine/juice. As the sun set over the canyon, they brought us blankets to wrap around ourselves to stay warm. We finally retired for the night and went upstairs to our sumptuous and decadent meal of cheese, crackers, chocolate, fruit and more wine and watch a movie: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. But enough about us PCV’s and our adventures. Here are some pictures and here is a website for you to check out as well. Enjoy. Next stop: Heraclea Lyncestis.
Prior to going into my classroom yesterday, the boys were apparently being rowdy. I was hesitant to even go in the classroom as Jeta had not yet arrived at school. However, I had to go talk to them about the spelling bee qualifiers so I headed that direction. Sami, the math teacher, was also headed that direction. The minute he walked in he started asking questions and then yelling. He then systematically went through the room and grabbed each boy by the left ear, slapped his right cheek and then grabbed the right ear and slapped the left cheek. I was absolutely stunned. A couple of the boys cried and they had red cheeks for the rest of class. I found out later that they had been turning desks up on end and being somewhat destructive. Not sure how Sami knew to go down there but he certainly got their attention. And just as an aside, corporal punishment is prohibited by Macedonian law. I need to talk to my program manager about this.
Another thing that is a bit strange in the Macedonian schools is time management. The last class of my morning session is scheduled from 12.05 – 12.50. This is probably the only class we start on time. However, the second session students are arriving and playing out on the playground. The school buses are waiting to take students home. So we dismiss the students about 12:30. Then we pull in our class for the afternoon session, which is supposed to go from 12.50 – 13.30. by the time they get in, sit down and get their books out, it is 12.40. We teach them until 13.00 and then switch to the next class which we teach until 13.30. It is the most bizarre time management system I have ever seen. About five minutes of every class is devoted to making entries in the “red book” and then we teach. It really is not an adequate amount of time to complete much of anything! And then today, another teacher needed help with a project, so Jeta didn’t meet her afternoon classes at all. Nor did they have anyone else in the class with them. I’m not permitted to be in the classroom by myself. So, of course, they learned nothing!