That time of year has arrived. The time when it is cold in the mornings and you don’t want to get out of bed to walk all the way across the room to turn on the space heater. And if you were thinking ahead the night before, you got your underwear out and when you finally turn on that space heater, you drape your undies on it so that when you put them on, they warm you up in the nicest way after just being in a toasty (hopefully) shower. Yes, that is the time of year that has arrived. And the leaves have begun to turn and the harvest is almost complete and the vegetables are being preserved. Ajvar is being made, kungull is being harvested to make sweet pumpkin, and people are putting away their lawn furniture.
I have made my preparations as well. Put away the shorts and capris and tank tops and took out the long johns, leggings, turtlenecks and sweaters. Checked the heater to make sure it still works and put the duvet back on my bed. Hats and gloves are ready to be used on a moment’s notice and the winter coat is hanging up.
Schools took advantage of one of the last nice days yesterday and had a field day at a local regional park. The kids brought picnic lunches and faculty stopped at a local grocer and got food for us. We even brought the little bunsen burner to make coffee and tea as we wanted it. There were no parent chaperones which amazed me with the number of 5 and 6 year old children with us. We didn’t lose a one! And we didn’t worry about child predators. Children in this country have so much more freedom than children in America have. I see my 6th graders (10-11 years old) catching buses into Skopje and having fun in town at the mall or the market or going to soccer matches. Very small children get sent to the store to pick up bread for Mom and sometimes they have their three or four year old sibling with them. Wish I knew why it is so much safer here so I could bring the answer home with me.
The day was perfect. Everyone taking pictures and “selfies” with the teachers. Long walks around the lake, multiple games of football and basketball and just being lazy while sitting on blankets under trees while watching the cows graze in the park with us. (Watch where you walk kids!) And then it was time to go back to the village. On the way back, a car from TV Channel 5 pulled out in front of us and I was sure we were toast. How our driver managed to stop is beyond me! But I did think that we were going to be in a major accident. And I was in the front seat! (the buses are really just large vans like hotels use to transport you from the airport or for my PR people–públicos). Our driver was incredible but he did give the driver of the other vehicle a piece of his mind. So fortunately we arrived safely back at the village. But that was not the end. As students got out of the vehicle the threw their trash around and one girl took her Pepsi bottle and pitched it. It landed right on the point of my collar bone and drew tears. Nazifete immediately got some ice on it. It still hurts and it is slightly bruised. She did not aim it at me, I just happened to be in the way.
And then there is Field Day–the chance for us 19’s to say goodbye to the 18’s and hello to the 20’s. We have been figuring out how we pay for shirts so we can order them and have them available at the event. We can’t put money in our local accounts so doing bank transfers can’t be done and credit cards are not an option generally. We are attempting to get as much cash collected as we can by the middle of next week so we can pay cash when the order is scheduled to be delivered. Next up–how do we handle food? Not sure but we are PCV’s and we can figure anything out!
GLOW should be picking up very soon. One of our coordinators ET’d (Early Terminated) so we need to figure out how and who to select to replace her. We also have moved from working with two NGO’s to just one–YMCA. Bekah and I are pretty happy about that and so we have been busy redesigning the logo via Facebook chat. She and I are in charge and figure before we get a bunch of other people involved, let’s get a few changes made that will make camp run smoother.
I had Peace Corps Staff come to visit us at the house the other day. It was a wonderful visit until the very end when Elsa began to cry. It turns out she thought they had come to take me away and she kept crying, “Eileen don’t go”. Boy this is not going to be easy when the time actually does come to go. And since that visit, she keeps checking to make sure that I am still here!