Today was one of the coldest so far with a high of 26F and a low of 6 F. Long about the half-mile mark on my way to work this morning I was re-thinking the “I’m going to die of boredom if I don’t go DO something” strategy. I had to walk really, really slowly on my injured knee, and stay to the center of the street where there was gravel and no snow, while avoiding getting hit by a car. That’s after sweeping the snow off my front marble steps (12 of them) trying to avoid an icy adventure upon my return. So at about the half-way mark I was thinking that staying home wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all.
And then I arrived at work to a reception of hugs and handshakes and warm greetings and concerned questions. Now my Macedonian is not that good yet so explaining the fall on the bridge was filled with pantomime and repeated questions. I think mostly they couldn’t figure out how I could have been so clumsy when there wasn’t even any ice or snow on the ground last Thursday. Even the mayor stopped by to see me and asked about my well-being. I kept saying ‘better’ and ‘it’s a new week’. When my counterpart explained my cat had also died last week, he said he had about 6 and did I want one? (I hope he was kidding.) I said I do want another cat eventually, but now I’m wondering if one will appear directly from the mayor some time this week….I never really know if what I mean to say and what I actually say are the same thing.
Around 2:00 who should walk in the office but Mone, my friend Sam’s host-dad from Kratovo. He basically told me I was expecting company–the girls were on their way to see me this evening and I’d best get going. My counterpart in the office told me to go and get ready for company. So I limped out of the office and into Mone’s car. He drove me to the store, did my shopping for me and carried all my groceries. Fortunately I had prepared a pot of beans to soak last night and all I had to buy was some onions, carrots, parsley, and some meat for flavoring. (I would have skipped this last part in my effort to ‘not eat meat’, but now I was cooking for the Kratovo ladies, and a meatless dish just wouldn’t do!) Back to my apartment and Mone peeled the veggies and did some additional shopping for me at the local stores–bread, white cheese called серење that’s sort of like Feta, and Rakia–can’t let the ladies down.
The ladies (4) arrived at my house promptly at 5:00 having hitched rides with the local electrical company vehicles for which my host mom works. They swarmed into my little abode laden with home-baked breads, wine, more cheese and other stuff they threw in my freezer that I haven’t even investigated yet. From the moment they hit the door they made me sit and ‘took over’ the cooking, meal-serving, and cleaning up. Then they made me research some of their favorite songs on YouTube and merrily danced around my living room. Notice the bad knee propped on the chair, and Nada took plenty of teasing about potentially injuring the other one……but I look happy! And indeed I was–my spirits were significantly lifted by this surprise “na gosti” (visit). A little
bit about these women: Yovanka’s and Nada’s husbands died together in the same car crash 12 years ago leaving both women to raise a son and a daughter. They are now like sisters and neither has remarried. Lile was Sam’s host mom in Kratovo and it was her husband Mone that hauled me out of the office today and after the visit drove all 4 women the hour back to Kratovo. Milka rounds out the fabulous foursome–she’s married, retired and is most proud of her 4 year old granddaughter. So although I’m limping around and missing my kitty, I also feel very blessed by the gift of love that I have received today.