As I went out to catch the bus to Tetovo for my day with the new volunteers, I was surprised to see all the men of the village at the Xhami. I don’t think I’ve ever seen all of the males in my house up that early. But this is Bajram–a most sacred holiday–kind of like Easter in the Christian tradition where everyone puts on their new clothes and goes to church. When I got on the bus I was the only person on the bus until we hit Skopje. Kind of weird. I even got a chance to talk to the bus driver: “Where are you going? What will you do there?” Arriving in Tetovo, there were no taxis at the bus station–hmmm. Tetovo is a predominantly Muslim city–about 80%. As a result, there were many businesses closed and very few drivers working. (Should have been a clue to me!) We walked about two blocks to the main drag and there were a few of them there. So we grabbed one of the few that was working and off to the school to participate in the intercultural diversity panel.
Visiting with the new volunteers was quite delightful. They are all eager and ready to learn. Many had very insightful questions: How will they react to the fact that I am Buddhist? Can my same sex significant other visit me safely? How do I establish my independence from my family? Should I be alone with the host father? Do the women share their kitchens willingly? We treated the session like a conversation among friends about our experiences and had the room set up in a fishbowl configuration. It worked quite well. Had lunch with a couple of the older volunteers and then packed up to head home.
I missed the bus that comes to the village so I caught the bus to Saraj and figured I would take a taxi home. Bad idea. There is NOTHING open in Saraj and NO taxis running. And it is starting to rain. I’m tired! I just want to go home. So I call Faton and just as he picks up his phone, a neighbor sees me and recognizes me and asks if I need a ride home. YES! Had I known about the taxi issue, I would have grabbed one in Skopje and gotten home that way but no……I’m trying to be thrifty. I guess if I had not gotten a response, I could have gone back into Skopje and got a taxi from there. I was just lucky that one of the villagers recognized me.
And I got home just in time for dinner and special Bajram bread and baklava! Yum!