‘Twas the night before…. Holiday Party

‘Twas the day before Christmas (American),     and all through the Municipality, they wanted to party, but the Mayor was thinking practicality. Though the celebration was planned, and the budget was allocated,  word from the central government came that no party should be tolerated.

OK, it wasn’t a mandate, but the central government ‘recommended’ that no funds be spent for a general office party and my co-workers were sad.  I left for Veles on Thursday

I'm turning left when everyone's turning right

evening anyway and was going to miss being the only one in the room that didn’t understand a single thing(NOT!), but I later heard that a modest celebration took place at the restaurant ‘Tourist” that Friday.  (I still shudder when I think about the 2 nights I had to spend in that

I know y'all wanna see my face...

hotel during my site visit back in November.)

Not to worry–my ‘department’ of Communications and Development had its own celebration planned for Tuesday, Dec. 29th.  We left work at 3:00 and went to a nearby restaurant.

My office co-worker. She speaks no English....

Now ‘restaurant’ does not compare with your local Macaroni Grill or Chile’s.  For one thing, this is a small town with a >40% unemployment rate.  The size of this restaurant was only a little larger than  my Florida living room.  We entered and immediately went upstairs to the seating

My boss on the chair. My counterpart to the left in pink.

area…I suspect downstairs was the kitchen, but I never actually saw it.  There was a tiny bar tucked in the corner and a wood stove to heat the place.  Our table for 12 was already set up with plates and salads.

Now have I told you how delicious the salads are here?  1) Potato salad made with sunflower oil and vinegar,  2) Platters of pickled cabbage, beets, green tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers.  These served with glasses of Rakija, Ouzo or Vodka as the recipient requests.  We were joined by the Mayor who made a point of shaking hands with

Both guys speak English. Far left has been a mentor.

me as well as recognizing everyone at the table.  There was no ‘ordering’.  We were there for the traditional dish: Pastermaika.    Each town does it a little differently, but think elongated pizza dough with a thin layer of egg and a ton of ham. This  was served with home-made wine

I work with some lovely people...notice the TV on the wall behind them.

provided by the director of the department….the one on the chair.

Dinner was followed by dancing the traditional Oro where people hold hands and continue in one direction around the room.  (Grape-vine for those who recognize dance steps.)  There was other dancing, too

Macedonian Wheel of Fortune. The last 2 words are my town: Kriva Palanka

and I have to admit how much I love to dance.  Everything was light, and fun, and when you’re dancing you usually don’t have to worry about TALKING–a weak skill for me in this country.  The party was over around 9:00–a very sensible time, and it was quite pleasant to walk home with a take-home

Chrismas in Veles with Sam, his host family and Jovanka from Kratovo

bag in hand and a glow in my heart!

The next day one of my colleagues  came around surreptitiously ‘collecting’ for the party.  I think it was subsidized because they were only asking for 500 Denari per person…about $11.00.  When I tried to ask ‘how much’ a finger was

Christine and me by the Veles Christmas Tree.

shaken at me and I was told NO.   Everyone wanted copies of the pictures I’d taken and said how much they enjoyed having me with them–what magnificent people!

And New Year’s Eve is the big event around here.  Work was over at 2:00 on Thursday and we only worked from 8:00-10:00 on Friday….I know, I also thought, “Why bother?” but that’s what they do over here.  This 2-hour work day was followed by a small gathering in a coffee shop, and then the weekend began.  My New Years was very quiet.  I walked down to the city center expecting crowds, music and fireworks, but alas…the city celebration was apparently another casualty of the economy.  I still got to watch various fireworks going off in the hills and surrounding neighborhoods and reflected on what really embodies a “Happy” New Year.  But that’s food for another post.

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6 responses to “‘Twas the night before…. Holiday Party

  1. I LOVE the photos! Thank you!
    Our New Years was a quiet stroll around St. Petersburg. On the way home we watched the fireworks over different parts of Tampa Bay and then listened to your neighborhood explode after midnight! 😀
    I am certain that everyone misses your parties!

  2. Isn’t it just amazing what we take for granted in our own country! What a tremendous experience for you, thanks for sharing it with us! Goes to show you how much fun can be had with very little and without the ability to understand each other. Love the dancing pictures and your descriptions of what it’s like, it allows for me to imagine being there too! Keep the updates coming! Hugs, Charla

  3. Happy New Year! Thank you for your pictures and your postings! So glad I can share in your experiences this way.
    We were quiet at our home due to feeling too sick to be making any noise. Better no though.
    Any boxes reach you yet?

  4. LOL Linda, that was a great story! Always beware of the “finger!”

  5. LOL Linda, that was a great story! Sounds like you are doing great!

  6. maria stiverson

    Hey Linda, Happy New Year! Great pics, esp since I keep picturing you in a cave! Christmas was wonderful here! We got early snow AND ice, unusual lately for us to get that before January. Boys were spoiled rotten, many game nights, sledding, skating and snowmobiling and the last of the visitors left today. We had theDunleavys, my friends with 5 kids stop in on their way back down from a ski trip. There was us 2 moms putting on and taking off 7kids skates, we sholveled a rink and were pulled behind a snomobile sledding! Now does that compare to your little gig out there in Macedonia?? NOT! But I’m still wiped out, New Year’s Resolution starting soon, promise! Love you, love your blog, Thank you, Maria

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