Living in and working in an Albanian village gives me virtually no opportunity to use and/or develop my Macedonian language. On Saturday a week ago, my electronic bus card registered empty when I got on the bus so I decided to go directly to the bus station to get more money put on it. Give me 250 MKD on the card, please. That will give me ten rides. So she did and we had no problem communicating. I used broken Macedonian and she used broken English. I finished my business in town and got on the bus and went home with no problems with my card. So imagine my shock on Monday when I go to use the card and I get a red X instead of a green check mark. Okay, when I came home, I stopped at the Saraj bus station and had 500 MKD more put on the card thinking that perhaps she had made an error and entered 25 instead of 250. I didn’t want to have to buy one time passes as they cost 35 denari and not the 25 you get charged by using the electronic card. So I should be good the next time I need to use my card which turns out to be Wednesday. I had to go into town to turn my watch over to the jeweler so they could send it off to be serviced. The battery was almost at its end and since it is a waterproof Tag Heuer it must be done by professionals. (to the tune of 5100 MKD–about 85 USD. I’ve never even paid that much for a watch let alone to have it serviced) and I needed to get a dose of my favorite pasta and some wine and interview my last two girls for camp. So I got on the bus after school and the damned card shows no credit! Okay! Now I’m mad–or at least as mad as Eileen ever gets. So after visiting the jeweler, I walk over to the bus station. I was hopeful someone spoke English and I was pretty sure that no one spoke Shqip.
“Do you speak English”.
Okay. Here goes my feeble attempt at concluding this business transaction in Macedonian. “Имам проблем со картичка електроника. Не работи.” ( E-mom problem so car-tich-ka e-lec-tron-ee-ka. Nay ra-bo-tee. I have a problem with my electronic card. It doesn’t work.) I went on to explain that I had purchased 750 denari of credit and it doesn’t work. Somewhere my conversation didn’t quite work as she tried to put more money on the card and then wanted me to pay another 750 den. I showed her my receipts and told her repeatedly –Не работи (Nay ra-bo-tee….it doesn’t work) I then had to pantomime that when I waved the card in front of the reader I got an X not a check mark. She finally understood–went into the computer and checked the records in the archives and fixed my card. However, I wasn’t leaving until I made sure the card was working. Just not that trusting. So I got on the closest bus and waved it in front of the reader and bingo–green check mark. Okay. Фала многу. Ciao. I walked away feeling pretty good that I had solved the problem totally by myself.
So now that problem is resolved. Time to go get my wine and food and then go to the American corner and visit with Maya and interview the last two girls for camp. Time to go home. Oh piddle poop. The cops have all of the access streets to the center blocked and traffic must take alternate routes as the protestors have blocked three major intersections in town. I have no idea which route my bus will take so I finally hailed a taxi. It was the ride of a life time and for a change I had a driver who knew where Arnaqi is located. When he didn’t like how fast the traffic was moving, he would lay on his horn and drive on the sidewalk. And as a result of that I was home in about half an hour. I was totally amazed!
But the protestors are still at it and things really don’t look any better. This article does a very good job of explaining things and is worth the time it takes to read it. The protestors have said that they are going to continue blocking intersections for an indefinite period during the lunch hour and evenings. It certainly doesn’t make it easy to get around. They protestors continue to paint monuments as well.
And Ramazan starts tonight at about 0200 when the first sliver of the moon will be sighted. I imagine we will have to eat at that point in time as the next meal time during the day to eat will be after sunset–sometime around 8:30 PM. Hopefully I can make two or three days this year.