It’s the time of year we used to always look forward to as kids–summer vacation. I remember that it used to seem so long. Now I’m wondering how I am going to cram everything in. I am taking a trip to Provence to visit lavender fields and drink plenty of wonderful French wine. Maybe I’ll even run into Angie and Brad ( 😉 ) in a local bistro. We will be visiting Avignon, Aix en Provence, Arles, Lyon, Dijon, Beaune, Cote d’Or and the Camargue. I’m anxious to see the horses of the Camargue. There is a wonderful song by Chris Rea that always makes me think of them. And I will get to drink some wonderful Burgundy that was first introduced to me when I lived in Korea by one of our University of Maryland professors. I’m counting the hours until departure.
I will no sooner get back than Steven will be in country and we will take a whirlwind tour of the country visiting Ohrid, Bitola/Manastir, and wine country. He leaves and I head to camp in Tetovo. We are conducting a leadership camp for young women called camp GLOW. I then have about 2.5 weeks off and then it is back to school. In my spare time, I am researching more ways to develop language skills in our classes.
The political situation remains tense. The EU commission has been brokering talks but the opposition seems to not want to negotiate. It is all or nothing. There are still people camped in front of the government buildings and nightly demonstrations. But also on the political front, the government has pushed some legislation through allowing people who are crossing the Mediterranean to get to EU countries and jobs 72 hours to pass through the country and utilize public transportation. The other day as I was returning from a meeting in Bitola in the evening, I was astounded at the number of people walking along the highway and riding bicycles along the highways with small children. I must have seen 150. No idea how many I did not see. It is a real problem not only here but also Europe wide. There are no signs of ethnic tension here and the people are pretty insistent that they want none. They are committed to living peacefully with their neighbors. And, of course, since it is Ramazan, people are calmer and quieter. I understand that the last week or so gets a little more lively as they prepare for Bajrami (the feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan–not to be confused with the Bajram which will occur in September called the Feast of the Sacrifice).
Life goes on.