Update!

Now Prime Minister Gruevski says he never made a statement that indicated he is willing to negotiate the name of the country! Who knows what is true? Not me!

Why?

I have been asked “why an interim government?” Macedonia last had elections about four months before my group of volunteers arrived. However, the opposition claims that the elections were rife with fraud. They have been calling for new elections ever since. Shortly after we arrived in country the opposition party started releasing “bombs” they claimed proved the rigged elections and were demanding the immediate resignation of the current government. These bombs were taped conversations between various government officials. Some have included directions to judges on how to rule on various cases. And some of them actually caused a couple of high ranking officials to resign. I don’t know if these tapes are authentic or created so I cannot and will not comment on them or their validity. There have been “bombs” and protests for almost 6 months. It was getting very ugly. Peace Corps advised volunteers to stay away from the center of Skopje because of these massive protests. The European Union was concerned about this as well as Macedonia is a candidate for EU membership. An EU commissioner stepped in and helped the two parties come to an agreement on new elections. The agreement included having the incumbents step down and establishing an interim government to run the country and make sure the elections are honest and an accurate reflection of the will of the people. They were concerned that if the incumbents ran the election, they would guarantee that they were re-elected. Interestingly enough the president is not up for election and will not step down. He is really just a figure head and has very little power other than ceremonial functions and to form this interim government with the help of the three parties standing for election.  Fortunately, the process here will be much shorter than the current process back in the US. We are beginning to get a little bit of political rhetoric  now but I suspect we will see a lot more after 15 January. I’m sure we will probably be subject to more safety warnings as the Balkan people are very passionate about EVERYTHING!

Movement on a stalemate?

This just in: Macedonian PM open to dialogue on name dispute to  end 24 year row with Greece. Read all about it here. So many good things can happen if they can resolve this situation. It’s just a wait and see. Of course, elections are coming soon so this could just be election rhetoric but it looks like a step in the right direction. Per the agreement of  this past summer, the current administration will step down on 15 January and an interim care taker government will take over until elections on 24 April. So we might here a lot of stuff. I’m trying to be positive but I’m still just a bit skeptical about this. The timing seems just a bit suspicious.

Prison

I’m in prison. Even the duvet cover on my bed is black and white stripes.  My room is on the first floor (2nd floor American) as is the bathroom. I was offered a room on the ground floor but with all my clothes and electronics up here along with the bathroom, I opted for the first floor. The stairs are difficult to navigate when you are able bodied. They have no railing, are open to the floor below on my right side as I ascend and covered with a runner that is in no way anchored to the steps. I manage to navigate the steps once a day  with a lot of assistance. I cannot stand for any long periods of time–I have to keep the weight off the foot as there is a fissure in the other ankle bone which could break with too much weight on it and then I would definitely need surgery. That also means no work, nor bus rides. Definitely minimal walking. Since everything around here requires a bus ride and a walk, I’m housebound. I could take a taxi, but to where? Shopping is not an option–it involves walking. To top all of  that off, Nazifete wants to continually try home remedies on me. “Let me rub margarine on your leg to cure the bruises”, or “let me put onions on your legs to make them better”, or “wear this compression sock, it will make your bones all better”. Grrr. I don’t want to smell like dinner and that damned sock is cutting off my circulation.  And, of  course, she checks to see if I have it on and when I don’t she wants to know why.  “Because it hurts, dammit!” Last night as I was lying in bed, she brought me a piece of birthday cake and decided to check my foot. IMG_0188I was ready to punch her! So frustrating to be so helpless!  I’ve tried telling her to not do it, but she does it and then just laughs.

I have no idea when I will be released from my “rest and rehab” status. Washington DC has not responded to the treatment plan. They did say, however,  I didn’t need to have the daily anti-coagulant shot that the local specialist wanted me to give to myself. (Obviously he doesn’t know me very well as there is no way in hell I could give myself or anyone else a shot!) In the meantime, I have missed the warden training and will miss the farewell for our country director tomorrow. I have a camp meeting on Wednesday and then our FF (foxes over fifty) group was going to take our Country Director out to  dinner and the ballet. I might be able to make the camp meeting but am not sure about the rest of it. It will require some walking on uneven surfaces. So my gut instinct is that I will miss that as well. There is even the possibility that I will have to be on crutches for my trip to Rome! That will make me very unhappy.

So to keep busy, I am working on my stamp collection.  I must have a thousand stamps of Francisco Franco and Juan Carlos. I’m weeding through them and keeping only the best. I will give the rest of them to some budding stamp collector. In the meantime it is once again time for some beans. Thank goodness for salsa! Now if I could only have a margarita or a bottle of wine!

And this was an exercise in catharsis! I feel better and less pitiful now.

Grounded

I’m officially grounded for the next two weeks. No, I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just what happens when you have trouble staying upright on your own two feet.

On my way to the swearing in of the MAK 20’s I stepped off a curb and my ankle gave out under me. I felt a pop and needed major assistance getting across the intersection. I got across it and thanked the gentleman that helped me and then hobbled the block or so to the ceremony. I was ready to put my high heels on as I was all dressed up when Dr. Mimi saw the lump on my ankle and said, “Sit down and lift up that foot. Let me take look at it.” She did and immediately sprang into action. She got a bag of ice and took me over to the couch and said, “Don’t move. Don’t stand up for ANYTHING! When the ceremony was over, she got a driver and called Dr. Darko out of his meeting to take me to get x-rays. Within five minutes  we have the results. I tore a ligament from the bone and there is still a piece of bone attached to the ligament. He now has to examine the x-rays to see if I need surgery.  He will call me later this evening to chat.  But in the meantime, I’m on the RICE diet and am not to basically be out of bed for two weeks. Because I have a trip to Rome planned, this is one time, I’m listening to the doctor! I have a cute little boot on my foot and I have crutches to get around on. Oh life is so much fun.