I have Internet access in my apartment!

Yeah!  It’s odd what is important…I have barely any cooking pots or utensils, but now I have internet!  It wasn’t the easiest chore but as it turns out, the mayor owns the cable company here in town.  They do not have the speed or bandwidth that the 2 competitive phone companies have (I say that as if I knew what I was talking about) but it boils down to the fact that I’m going to pay 800 Denari/month for 55 channels of cable TV and 15 gigs of internet (maybe someone more technically savvy will tell me if 15 gigs is good).  With either of the phone companies I would have been paying around 2000 Denari/month for phone land-line (which I wouldn’t use because I have a cell), more jigawhatevers of internet, and I-don’t-understand-how-many TV channels.

To give you some perspective, my volunteer allowance is about 11,500 Denari/month (about $260 and I’m using a 45:1 conversion rate) plus Peace Corps gives me exact money for rent (7000 D/month or about $160).  Peace Corps also pays my electric bill, so the money I get is for food, transportation, clothing, entertainment, internet & TV, etc.  Now several people have shared their salaries with me over here—it’s not culturally ‘taboo’ like in the US.  (Nor is your age or what you weigh!) The lowest I’ve heard is 15,000 Denari/month and the highest I’ve heard is 30,000 Denari/month.  (The husband of the person who made 15D/month and they are raising 2 teenagers!)  Bottom line is that I certainly won’t starve but I won’t be purchasing even the cheapest wireless router (3500 D) or microwave (3000 D) like in the US either!

No wonder so many Macedonian families have small gardens or farm areas out in the country where they grow food and the occasional pig or cow (to eat).  Also, young people live with their families…often even after they marry and have children of their own.  It’s not uncommon for each generation of a single family to have their own floor of the house. Combine this information with the aforementioned 40% unemployment rate and you begin to get the picture.  One would think prices would be correspondingly low as compared to the salaries, but only in certain areas like rent and the Bazaar produce.  (Do the math on the router and microwave.)

I’m posting this at work and unable to upload pictures, but I’ll try again tonight from home to show pics of my apartment…last night when I wrote this I had an internet catastrophe and lost connection capability…Argh!

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