Remember that phrase? I sure do! And school truly is out. We finished testing on Friday afternoon and I promptly came home and took a nap. Macedonia has a procedure for year end testing. They test in every single subject taught but random students are selected to take each subject test. One student doesn’t usually take more than three tests. The problem with these tests is that they are compared with the grade the teacher gives based on tests and classroom work. If they aren’t the same, the teacher gets a monetary penalty. Now teachers in Macedonia can’t really afford a penalty, as regardless of seniority (tenure is unknown in this country) the salary is 20,000 denari a month. (That translates to about 400 USD.) Yeah, not a lot of money. (And you thought teachers in America were underpaid!?) Yes, the cost of living over here is cheaper but that is still not an adequate amount to support your family, which is why many teachers take tutoring jobs, second jobs, live at home with their parents or have a working spouse. (Or in my case, house a PCV)
To keep from being penalized, the teachers support the students through the testing process to make sure that those students who get a 5 (A) get a 5 on the test. At any given time most every student has a “helper” with them.
More bus woes: Well, my card worked for four rides and then ceased working again, leaving me with at least 15 rides on the card. I have called it quits and reverted to buying the paper card. I even tried contacting the bus company but they have not responded. I don’t have a clue where my card is, either. It must have fallen out of my pocket when I was on the bus. These busses are the worst thing on earth! Light fixtures are broken and just bare wires hang there. Everything is rusty on this bus and you are in mortal danger of falling off seats when he makes a turn of any kind. Hold on for dear life. On an accordion bus the flexible part in the middle has all kinds of holes in it so when it rains, too bad–you get wet! I have all kinds of ideas as to why we get such crappy busses out here but that won’t change anything.
Camp time is rapidly approaching. Emi and I went down to camp to scope the place out on Monday. I think we have a plan for how to house them. Now we just have to figure out where everything else goes. It will be a challenge. Fortunately for Emi and I the owner of the camp was kind enough to bring us home in his car. He lives and works in Skopje so he told us to just hop in his car and off we went. I got home easily two hours sooner than I would have had I taken the bus. And there was a very real possibility that it would have been more like four hours. I’m excited about camp but it is going to happen way too fast!
And now it is time for pushim (vacation). I’m headed to the UK and going to go to Ireland, Scotland and England. Despite having lived here in Europe once upon a time, I never made it there. It was really never a high priority. However, the hubs is teaching a course in Wales and so a visit with him has turned into a tour of the UK. I’m looking forward to it. My traveling partner is off on her own vacation too–she is at Machu Pichu. Some day I will go there. But the UK will be nice and right now they are predicting very warm weather for Macedonia during the time I’m gone so it will be good and cool weather for the UK. Watch for UK updates.
I had to turn my watch over to a local jeweler here in Macedonia. Based on what it was doing, I needed to have the battery changed. They couldn’t do it locally. Despite what some people feared would happen by entrusting my watch to a local dealer, it came back to me in a velvet cast and as sparkling clean and operational as the day it was presented to me. They also presented me with a service booklet much like you get with your car. I am incredibly impressed with the service even if it did cost more than any other watch I have ever owned.