Breakfast was typical European fare (meats, cheeses, bread, butter, jellies, hard boiled eggs, coffee) after which we moved into our first session of “Peace Corps School”. I took a picture and hoped to be able to show you, but I apologize in advance for my technological incompetency. Tomorrow I’ll try to get one of the ‘younglings’ to help me upload.
Most of the morning was spent with introductions, housekeeping issues and medical info. The Peace Corps is REALLY big on medical issues; I’m feeling very safe! In fact, I can hardly wait until Wednesday when my turn as a human pin cushion will come around and I get asked about my sex life. (Ohhh forgive me temptation….)
Lunch of tomato salad, chicken noodle soup (of sorts) and stuffed peppers followed. Now forget the fact that I’ve NEVER liked tomatoes, they were put in front of me and I darn well ATE them. I’ve NEVER liked bell peppers but I darn well ate them (and was grateful they were cooked enough they didn’t make me sick.) But lest you think lunch was uneventful….enter the vegetarians. The kitchen had planned for 3 and suddenly there were 6 at my table. Now one would eat pork but not beef, one chicken and fish but no red meat, one didn’t want any soy-substitutes and would rather just skip the meat on the regular meal, and on it went…. Out came the head chef gesticulating and exclaiming there were only 3 vegetarian meals requested. She was upset because she seriously wanted to do right by us. One person got up and walked off (guess she’ll be hungry) another just sulked, another explained her grandfather had died of mad-cow disease, and on it went. Now I have refrained from most meats in the past year or more, and I totally support such decisions, but when it comes to eating or hungering….I’m eating!
After lunch we were in language school. r = g, and X = H, and H = N, and there are 6 extra letters to learn..(darn St. Cyrill who invented the Cyrillic alphabet!) Come to find out there IS actually a Macedonian ABC song–but it’s ABV, one of the first things that’s going to be tough to translate.
Then came our first walk into the town of Kumanovo where we’re staying. (About 30 km from Skopje, the capitol.) It was about a mile and a half walk and we were to meet some PC volunteers who have been living here for a year in the town square. As many town squares do, this one has a large statue of a man. As you might expect, we wondered about this honored figure and were expecting some historical, political or even religious icon…..BUT NO! The town of Kumanovo has a statue of a much beloved town drunk who appears to be rubbing his head in exasperation and asking where he left his beer. He has no name, just a legend. And not such a bad one as such things go..after all, he IS beloved!
I returned to the hotel with with a newly purchased Macedonian hair dryer, some nuts and a bottle of excellent red wine ($4 for anyone who’s interested). I really think I’m going to like this country!