Valentine’s week taught me lessons in how different life is here in Macedonia. For the most part Valentine’s Day is not observed except by merchants trying to cash in on American consumerism. The Macedonians celebrate St. Trifun–protector of wine and vineyards. Much better in my opinion. When I return to the states I am going to do away with V-Day and institute St. Trifun Day. I mean, how many chocolates and flowers do you need? But you never have enough wine! And maybe next year I will get to the wine areas and spend the weekend there (the wineries even have a hotel!) And, of course, Albanians celebrate neither one of them!
Speaking of V-Day…..The day before V-Day, I was getting ready to head into Skopje for a meeting; I was not going to school. My phone rings and it is not a number I know. I have learned here that I need to answer those–occasionally it is a wrong number but more often than not it is someone at PC office using a phone that I don’t have in my phone yet. Well, it was neither one of those! Some guy was talking in Macedonian and asking for Ellen. Figured it was me. I got across to him that I could not understand him. He got his boss on the phone who spoke some English and he wanted to know where I was so he could deliver some flowers from Germany. So I handed the phone off to Haxhbi to explain to him how to find me. Figured Nazifete could sign for the flowers. Well, it turns out that they are delivering to the school and Haxhbi says I have to be there to sign for them, so I am just going to have to take the 11.00 bus into Skopje instead of the 10.00. Okay–but I’m going to be late for my meeting. So I get to school and wait and wait and wait. No flowers. I convince my counterpart to sign for them and have Haxhbi take them home when they finally arrive so I can get to my meeting. I gimp out to the bus-stop and am waiting for the next bus which will be packed with students when a little blue car pulls up and asks me where the school is. I point it out and then ask, “Are those flowers for Eileen?” Yes they are. Okay. He hands them to me and I don’t have to sign for anything. Guess he figured if I knew those details, I must be the right person. Now what do I do? Well, the florist offers to drive me into Skopje to his shop and tells me the bus stops right in front of his store. Well, that is good. I can get a different bus and avoid the school crowd. So now, here I am in downtown Skopje toting around this big flower arrangement as I go to my meeting and then to the Peace Corps office and then catch a bus home. I was subjected to a lot of strange looks. I’m sure people thought I had bought a floral arrangement for someone and was planning to deliver it myself. Nope! My husband bought flowers and sent them to me for V-Day. I still haven’t figured out how they came from Germany but I don’t ask questions. And let me assure you that balancing them all over town was not the easiest task in my day but it certainly started a lot of conversations.
Seems to be a week where tons was accomplished and nothing was accomplished. It is teaching me how to not have expectations or at least how to modify those expectations. Things do happen here just not the way I expect them to. On Monday I went in to the PC office to receive my injection that will let me avoid surgery for a while. They mixed the lidocaine with the steroid so that I only got poked once. I had two doctors and one nurse to take care of me. It is about the same discomfort level as the measles shot. When it was done, I needed to stand up. I expected to feel a numbing sensation or something but other than the poke I felt nothing. Well, when I stood up, I could stand up! It didn’t hurt to put weight on my leg. It was amazing. I could walk at a reasonable pace! I had to hang out at the PC office for a while and then go home and rest for the balance of the day. I even took a nap. I felt so good that I was ready to put on a pair of high heels (I didn’t). So Tuesday I got up and got ready for work when I received a call from my counterpart–her son is sick so she is not coming in. That means I don’t go to work. Okay. Work on lesson plans and a couple of exams. Wednesday is a nice normal work day–no glitches, nobody throwing up or running a fever and I am able to walk about normally. Thursday the Syndicate (Union) is having their annual meeting and it just happens to overlap the time that Jeta and I teach so she will go to the meeting and I will stay home. Maybe I’ll go shopping. We’ll see what the day brings. Friday I get to school and the non-smoking teacher’s lounge is freezing cold. So I go into the other one which is nice and warm and smoky–seems we are working on a short schedule today since we have no dru (wood). I spent an hour at school and the day was done! Haxhbi tells me they delivered wood later in the day. But this building is totally heated by wood burning stoves. There are 8 of them and only one was working. It was truly freezing in that building. No learning was going to take place in that environment.
Next week is Teacher’s Day on Saturday and on Sunday is International Women’s Day. My family is shocked that we don’t celebrate it in the United States. It is a big thing here! It is a national holiday! It is actually quite big in all of Europe. Wonder why we haven’t embraced it in the states. Of course they don’t celebrate mother’s day here. But not everyone is a mother! I like the idea of women’s day and not mother’s day! Women should be celebrated! Ooops…get down off your soapbox, Eileen.
And in case you want to know more about Macedonia and how amazing it is, check out this site. It has tons of information and possibilities.