SO yesterday we got out of language class early because the opshtina (municipality) needed to use our classroom for a meeting. We were standing out in front of the building trying to figure out what to do with ourselves after the unexpected disruption of our daily language schedule. I was staring at the gate of the Talisman trying to open it with my mind, crisp golden leaves were fluttering from the trees to the cobblestone, and Miki was trying to dodge the cars that were clipping his backpack every minute or so. The locals were strolling up and down the street going about their daily business of smoking and drinking kafe, and one particularly adorable little old lady was slowly making her way toward us. I was watching her and smiling, as little old people typically cause me to do. She was at least a foot shorter than me, and had big, warm brown eyes that made contact with mine. She had an ‘I need help with something/I’m going to ask you a question’ look in her eyes as she came towards me. I know this look after working in Hospice and taking care of old people for years I swear. As she got about three feet away from walking through our group, she was still looking directly into my eyes. I looked down to see what she was carrying in her hand, and what do I see? A m-fing SCYTHE. For a brief moment I felt in my mind that I had been mysteriously plopped into a very strange horror film, and I sucked my breath in and I believe my eyes got very large, because Miki looked next and his eyes got huge as well. And then the sweet little old lady with the scythe just hobbled right around our group and kept going. I reflected on the moment and the thought of this tiny old baba marching up to me and slicing my head off. Did she refrain because I noticed the scythe, or was she simply up the hill cutting some tea leaves for her morning chai? I suppose we’ll never know. I am thankful that I still have my throat to be able to laugh about it.
TODAY, I finally found out where I’m going to be for the next two years! I’m going to be in Negotino, a town in the south/east/central-ish area of Macedonia with a population of about 15,000. I’m going to be working with the Municipality of Negotino, mainly on tourism. Turns out Negotino (as well as Kavadarci) is known as the home of Macedonia’s best wine and rakija (ironic now that I can’t drink it, but wonderful for those of you that are going to come visit me…more details on that later). Also, I’m going to be right on the rail line into Skopje as well as Thessaloniki, Greece. I’ve been told I’ll be working on developing a tourism/info center for the town as well as networking with other tourist info centers in the region. I’ll be working on the wine events/festivals, marketing for the Municipality, all while being surrounded by vineyards and the river Vardar. I’ve been told ‘mild and rainy winters and warm and dry summers’… sounds about fantastic to me :) There is currently another volunteer there, who is awesome and works with a woodcarving association that produces some beautiful work. I’m super excited, and get more excited by the minute :)
On another note, we found out today that our internet access is going to be even more limited, as the café that we typically use has shut down for the winter and the internet has been relocated to the café that all the high schoolers hang out at and play very loud pop music. Not quite the environment that we all want to frequent.