I promised to post pictures of the ongoing renovation and last week the mayor happened to take enough of an interest to go check out the project. This picture shows the newly painted office with it’s new laminate flooring. The fire chief (right) and Kriva Palanka’s mayor (left).
This is the newly renovated ‘bedroom’. Note that the colors chosen for the project are all ‘fire-colors’: orange, yellow, and the entrance hallway will be red. These were not my choices, but as I kept reminding myself–I will not be the one ‘living with them’ and truth be told, I think they turned out to be very attractive. Another reminder to stick with my strengths of which decorating is NOT one. Even the orange tiles in the kitchen look good…the grout is yellow by the way….These pictures are about a week old and now the cupboard fronts are installed and their old stove moved over…..there wasn’t enough room in the budget for appliances, but we were able to save a lot of money on the laminate flooring, so I’m hoping to be able to buy them a microwave and maybe a small ‘dorm-size’ refrigerator, neither of which they currently have. So progress is being made. In fact the mayor asked about the 2 additional rooms and when told we didn’t have enough money to do more than paint, he offered to buy the additional laminate flooring to bring those rooms up to the same condition as the rest of the building…..YEAH!!! So the American taxpayer is footing $4000 through USAID, the Municipality here is matching it, (they were already paying $1,500 but have voluntarily increased the amount as the Mayor sees the need) and the Firefighters are donating all the labor. My girls will have a place to meet next year (other than my apartment) and other clubs will use the space as well. The fire prevention classes already started….it feels good.
Saturday there was a Independence Day party on the grounds of the American Embassy which was open to all Americans in Macedonia. There were about 200 people there: face painting and games for the kids, a live band, and lots of food. Ambassador Reeker gave a short speech. He is headed home soon to take up a new position in Washington as Deputy Director of the Balkans, so this was one of his last events here. Security was tight and cameras were left at the front desk….and then the rules changed and some were allowed to bring theirs in….I’ll have to snip pictures off Facebook. But lest you think your tax dollars paid for my hamburger….tickets were 300 Denari. It was a very nice event and I ate my first beef hamburger since last summer, and I ate it on an American hamburger bun! No Budweiser, but they did have the local beer on tap and some boxed wine donated from a local winery–a very good winery that I hope to visit next September. We Peace Corps folks were some of the last to leave (Free food, etc.???) go figure…..but a good time was had by all. My friend Happie and I stayed at the apartment of a guy who works at the embassy. His apartment was glorious and his hospitality wonderful….all in all a great weekend.
But July 4th fell on a Monday, and for me it was ‘back to work’. In Macedonia it’s tradition that if you are celebrating something, it’s your responsibility to ‘buy’. So in keeping with that tradition, I asked the bakery to make me a cake with the American Flag on it. (I had to pull it up on the internet, take a picture with my iPhone and show the bakery–no color printers here!) I bought Coca-Cola (tastes different, but brand is American) and I invited my immediate colleagues and the mayor to the office that I share with 2 other women. I had both national anthems queued to play on my computer and that was my cross-cultural interaction for the day. среќен денот на независноста (Happy Day of Independence)