Catching Up

So much has happened in the last couple of weeks and time just flies by faster and faster every day. I’m trying to figure out how to stop the clock or at least slow it way down. No solutions yet.

Looking out at the Aegean
The White Tower
Dining on the Aegean

Thessaloniki was wonderful but not nearly enough time. We visited the YMCA facilities and they were truly amazing. Their fees are pretty low–€13 a year and then you pay an additional fee for the program you are interested in. They have studios for all kinds of activities, an Olympic sized pool, basketball courts inside, tennis courts outside–you name it, they have it.  And this sits right there on the Greek coast overlooking the Aegean–which was very placid and a gorgeous azure colour. I don’t think I’ve seen anything that beautiful in a long time (well, maybe Puerto Rico–but I do have a particular fondness for PR). We all had a typical Greek meal–I had fried zucchini with tatziki and ground lamb ovals (just means they were shaped in an oval) with a honey mustard dressing. Decided to pass on the ouzo and retsina.

Border crossings were a bit awkward. Remember that we were going from FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) to Macedonia (the Greek one). When we left Macedonia, everyone had to show their passports. Almost every PCV has two passports–a personal one and a no fee one. Two of  our PCV’s wanted the stamps in their personal one. Hmmm. Macedonia doesn’t show that these people ever entered MK legally. OH, uh–here is our no-fee passport. So that was the first unusual thing for the border. Then we get to Greek immigration and all the Macedonian’s on the bus only hand over a piece of paper with their info on it as Greece does not recognize Macedonian passports. “There is no such place.” On the way back we stopped for a bathroom break. The first place did not permit us to use the bathroom as it was a restaurant and they felt, rightly so, we should buy before we use the bathroom. We didn’t have the luxury of that kind of time. They did, however, tell us there was a gas station just up the way that would let us use the bathroom. We pulled in and the owners immediately chased us away. Seems they don’t let “Skopjans” use their bathrooms. The writing on the side of the bus gave us away. Then we hit passport control again and same process. They did at least let us use the bathrooms but no more than five people at once. This was quite the ordeal.

Next event? Thanksgiving. Susie and I had decided to throw an American Style Thanksgiving. But where in heaven’s name do you do it. We consulted a couple of our colleagues and decided to look at renting an apartment–there are many of them available on Air BNB sites. The apartment we found was this one. It was truly amazing. We didn’t want to leave!IMG_1331 IMG_1326 IMG_1324

We invited all of our colleagues and 31 of them told us they would attend. We did ask them to bring a covered dish to serve but that we would handle the centerpiece dishes for Thanksgiving: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. I was even fortunate enough to lay my hands on a
bag of fresh cranberries. Now turkeys are not quite as plentiful in Macedonia as they are in the states and we don’t get butterball turkeys. But Susie and I started on a quest Friday morning looking for turkeys. I had seen them so I knew it wasn’t an impossible search but I couldn’t remember for sure where I saw them so off we went–first to the Ram Store which didn’t have them but said another store at Capitol Mall had Turkey. So we headed to the Ram Store that had turkey–sliced! Nope, won’t do. Next was the Vero. Strike two! They didn’t have it either. Okay Kam Market and then we switch to chickens. IMG_1312Yup, that’s four (4!–count them) turkeys! Kam was our saving grace. And they each weighed 3200 gms. (That’s 7 lbs for non-metric conversant readers)

So bright and early Saturday morning I started in on stuffing. I had found celery–a rarity in this country so I started washing it and dicing it and onions, making stock and tearing up and drying bread. Margery got up and started prepping turkeys, then Susie got started on potatoes and Cindy took care of moving furniture and securing anything that might be breakable. Our first guests arrived right at 2 PM. The second set of turkeys was roasting. I’m told you could smell the turkeys from the street. Twenty eight pounds of turkey later, I am exhausted and went upstairs to take a Naproxen Sodium and let my eyes rest for a minute with a cool cloth. Oops—the party is over–two hours later! Yes I fell asleep. Guess I was exhausted.

We were so lucky to have so many wonderful people show up and make it a memorable Thanksgiving. These are just a few of them.12304051_1690214227858063_8894319036313245008_o



Next up–I have swearing in of new volunteers, Warden Training, Country Director farewell, Elsa’s birthday and finally winter break (note–Christmas is not celebrated here) when I am going to Rome for a much deserved holiday and then spend a couple of days in Istanbul. No one can say life is dull as a Peace Corps Volunteer. They keep us busy but I guess that is better than the alternative.

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A 60 something woman who has run off to faraway places with the Peace Corps.

4 thoughts on “Catching Up”

  1. What a wonderful tribute to the dedication to friendship and camaraderie among your Volunteer family. Cyn, Thanksgiving had to be one each of them will never forget. With all the pressures, strife, border squabbles, neighborhood disturbances and volunteer work challenges, you have come through remarkably well – you seem to be thriving. Keep the posts coming. Ted

  2. I love the ship on the Aegean Sea photo.

    The bathroom situation could’ve been disastrous. I’m glad it wasn’t.

    That apartment looks great. What a feast you all had. Yo9u all look really happy.

    Have a very fun restful time in Rome.

  3. Nice apartment and plenty of room for the crew. So if you are from Macedonia you don’t need a passport to enter Greece, but if you aren’t you do, but it needs to have a Macedonian stamp in it. But wait there is no Macedonia. Must be fun.

    Wish Elsa a Happy Birthday from me. See you in Rome.

    1. Not quite right on the passports–more like Greece refuses to recognize anything that is issued by the Republic of Macedonia and that includes passports. You can’t even fly to Greece from Macedonia. You have to go to Turkey or Romania or Bulgaria or Italy or somewhere else in order to fly to Greece. And the Macedonian stamp is not needed to enter Greece. You just have to leave Macedonia with the passport you entered Macedonia. There are two passport controls you must go through when you cross the border: a Macedonian one and a Greek one.

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