I hope you all had a blessed Christmas. The picture to the left is from the day I went up to the high school last week and did a presentation to the English classes on how we celebrate Christmas and New Years in America. Apparently it was well received because I’m invited back tomorrow to catch the other 2 grades–or more likely the other 2 teachers want a day off also…. Anyway this picture was snipped from the school web site and there are more on the Kriva Palanka Municipal web site–it doesn’t take much to make the news around here. But it’s kind of a nice ‘small-town’ feel!
Christmas in Veles was wonderful. Sam was a great host, the apartment was cleverly anointed with both store-bought and craft-made decorations, and the food was plentiful and delicious. I found the only 4 decent sweet potatoes in Macedonia and mashed them with a little butter, brown sugar and orange zest–they were a hit. I also made onion dip with the last of my onion seasoning, and pseudo chocolate chip cookies. They don’t have chocolate chips over here, but a chopped up chocolate bar is a fine substitute. Sam cooked a ham, a turkey, garlic green beans, cabbage salad and corn bread. Christine made glazed carrots and CRANBERRY sauce from a jar of cranberries-in-liquid we found at the grocery store. Others brought mashed potatoes, rice, corn pudding, pita sandwiches, brownies, chicken, pizza (yeah-well, he contributed!) and, and, and…. you get the drift!
There were about 30 people for dinner, and even some of our Macedonian friends were there. Sam’s host parents showed up laden with wine, rakija, potatoes, and a peculiar item called cabbage-water which is basically a salty brine that is used to preserve cabbage for the winter. They brought a 2-liter bottle of it and made sure to explain repeatedly that it was Macedonian aspirin for hangovers and that we should have plenty for the following day…thoughtful man, but the stuff tastes pretty bad. Dinner was followed by a gift exchange–250 Denari limit (about $5). Those are always fun, and it’s amazing what you can get in this country for $5! It was tight quarters in Sam’s little apartment, but a good time was had by all.
After dinner, bellies full and alcohol in to-go bags, the party moved over to Karen’s apartment. She’s on the top floor of her building (5th I think) and has an awesome porch that’s almost as big as her whole apartment. (The trade-off is that her bathroom has basically a water hose for a ‘shower’ and the whole bathroom gets wet when she uses it.) Phil’s i-phone and speakers provided the music and Lync provided the party games–it was a relatively warm evening, maybe in the 50s. I got to Skype with my daughter from the semi- privacy of the bedroom and that made me very happy until the internet crapped out.
Sunday I traveled back to Kriva Palanka to a cat very happy to see me. (I still haven’t settled on a name that I like for the poor guy.) I did a load of laundry, ate some Christmas leftovers, called my Landlady and txted the Peace Corps letting everyone know I was home (lots of ‘oversight’ in my role as a PCV) and Christmas weekend was over…….. Oh yeah, I get ANOTHER one when Macedonia celebrates on January 7th. Did I tell you Santa Clause comes on New Years over here?
So dear friends and family–I hope all of you are enjoying the holidays and finding some peaceful time to enjoy each other, because I certainly miss you!