There’s this place called Golesh in the far northeast corner of Macedonia where it borders with 2 other countries: Bulgaria and Serbia. And there the 3 neighboring Municipalities met on July 12th for an International Festival.
From Kriva Palanka it took almost an hour to get there in the van–traveling almost straight up. As usual I knew nothing about it until the day before. (You gotta be flexible when you’re struggling with a language and you can’t yet ‘filter’ what’s important to pay attention to and what is not!) My counterpart told me to wear jeans and sneakers and bring a jacket (in July???) So off I went to work the next morning wondering what the day would bring….and I wasn’t disappointed!
As it turns out I was with the ‘advance’ crew. After another hair-raising, guard-rail-less trip up the mountain we came to a broad expanse of meadow, beautiful in it’s pristine heights and expansive views. A tent was set up, food was prepared, and multitudes of drink varieties were placed in a barrel of cold water to chill. We were offered food and when I said ‘later’ as I had eaten breakfast, they laughed at me and said there would be no ‘later’. I really didn’t know what was on the agenda….obviously! As the morning progressed, vendors from all over the region and all three
countries arrived, each with their specialties, selling everything from furniture to food. There was bedding, jewelry, clothing, carpeting and footwear. I almost bought a stool for my apartment but didn’t want to cart it around all day, and by the end of the day there were none left…good for the vendor!
All 3 mayors greeted the crowds and spoke about international cooperation and friendship (I presume!) Afterwards there were folk dancers from 2 countries and a singer from the third. I held out as
long as my red-headed, pale-skinned body could tolerate the high-altitude sun and then made my way back to the tent–to discover the reason there would be no food ‘later’. Upon my arrival back at home base I found it jammed with the VIP crowd…since Golesh is technically on Kriva
Palanka land, we were apparently the hosts and all 3 mayors with their entourages were there eating and drinking at the long table set up for them. I found a chair near ‘Grandma Good’ in the shade to recover and started taking more pictures. Apparently the Mayor from Serbia (blue shirt toasting with beer bottle–massive hair) soon found out I was American and decided to relocate next to me. I told him (in Macedonian) that I had enough language problems and couldn’t speak Serbian….which mattered
not one bit. I found myself back up at the main announcement area dancing with the assembled crowd and having a blast. Notice the many hats on people in the background. It was quite warm, but I kept reminding myself that I’d rather be hot than cold and remembering how cold I was this past winter. After enough exercise I headed back to help pack up the giant tent. The trip back down the mountain was uneventful except that I had to sit next to my boss–who loves to talk to me and I can’t understand a thing he says……a sometimes useful failing.
On another note, the Fire Station Grand Opening is set for August 5th. This is the room that the Mayor bought flooring for so that it would be included in the renovation. It’s the biggest room and will be used for community space. We’re almost done–yeah!