Yay for the weekend!!!!! My weekend was a fantastic one!! So far, I haven't had a bad weekend, and I love that.
The weekend was different than anything I've experienced in Macedonia so far. Friday evening started with an American friend of mine, Francesco, coming into town. He's been traveling for over a year, and he decided to stop through for a visit on his way to Greece. A new local friend of mine suggested a bar to Paul (volunteer that lives nearby) and I the night before, so we decided we were going to try it out. The three of us headed over to what is called either "the house" or "the fig." It is basically just a house bar. You walk into an entryway that is lit by a red bulb and has paper clippings taped all over the walls. There are three doors, all leading to three separate rooms. We decided to go with the door on the far left, only to discover one of the teachers that works at my school to be sitting there!! He apparently is a co-owner of the bar, and he was just as equally surprised and happy to see me. So we ended up having a couple of beers there, before we decided to head over to another bar for a change of scenery.
The rest of the night was pretty basic. We went to two other bars, but one of them was full of youngsters, and by the time we made it to the other one we were pretty tired. We ended the night at my place, surrounded by my last batch of Ranch dip. We literally pigged out for like a good hour and a half, before my mom and sister Skyped us. It was fun!!
The following day, I took Francesco around Kochani. We went up to Freedom Monument and did a bit of exploring around the city. We also made an epic feast of baked chicken and potatoes!! Later that night, the Director picked us both up for dinner. We went to this fantastic fish restaurant up in the mountains. The place was located on the dam, and even at night, you could just see how fantastic the view was!! It was so peaceful up there. We were there to celebrate a group of the teachers earning their permanent jobs, which was nice to be a part of...although Francesco and I really only spoke with the Director the entire night. It is still difficult for me to follow along with some of the Macedonian, and when you get 13 people speaking Macedonian really fast it is nearly impossible to keep up!! For that reason, I was even more thankful to have Francesco by my side!! We had some excellent conversations with the Director and ended up being there until midnight!! After 5 hours of indulging in fish, potatoes, appetizers, and wine, we all headed back into the city. Needless to say, nothing else exciting happened that night, because we were in a food coma!!
Sunday morning was perfect. We got up and had some coffee and breakfast and just sat around talking about everything under the sun. Suddenly, my counterpart, Emilija, called me and offered to take us out for coffee. Excited, we both hurried to get ready before running out to meet her and her husband. They ended up taking us back into the mountains to this other restaurant that was very close to the one from the night before. It was SO BEAUTIFUL up there!! Seeing the view in the daytime was fantastic. Seeing all the mountains made me so excited for warmer weather, when I can begin hiking!! It also made me want to purchase a bike at some point, because I could totally take a bike ride up there!! Anyways, we had some nice coffee and conversation before heading back into the city.
The rest of the day was a trip!! We had a FANTASTIC lunch at Emilija's house as we all frantically tried to figure out which bus/train/cab/etc Francesco would take to get into Greece. We had several plans we were tossing around, and the confusion of it all was just funny in itself. Unfortunately, we had to eat and leave really fast, which I still feel bad about, but it all made for such a good day. I really enjoy getting to spend time with that family.
Francesco is now gone, but his short trip here was fun!! Spending time with him and Paul on Friday made me miss all the guy friends I have back home. That being said, meeting a lot of the locals really makes me excited and proud of the city I'm living in!! I felt so proud while showing off my city all weekend, and I just love being shown all these new places by everyone. It was definitely a well-spent weekend.
These coming two weeks are going to be AWESOME..have I told you?! Ok, well:
-Tomorrow I have three meetings at school
-Wednesday I'm going to Vinica for a 50th anniversary Peace Corps event
-Saturday, I'll be in Veles with my Model UN group for their tryout to be an advanced group
-Sunday is the BIG EVENT--the basketball events I've been organizing
The next weeks:
-20th, someone from Peace Corps is coming to see me
-23-26, I'll be in Kamenica for Xmas with several of the volunteers (so excited!!)
-28th, Rob is coming to visit from London!!!!
Then, there is obviously New Years, which I don't know what we'll be doing for that, but then I have the first three weeks of January off for winter break. WOOHOO!! I plan on using the time off to spend time with people, start organizing the clubs/events for the school, and maybe travel a bit around Macedonia. I am just so excited for these next few weeks!!
That's all for now. Things are good. It's still taking some adjusting to not being home for the holidays, but I am finally beginning to feel like I have a home here. : )