Thursday, August 7, 2008

Meeting New People/Learning New Things

We were fortunate enough to arrange the purchase of a Honda Odyssey prior to our arrival, so on our second day in Skopje, we ventured out shopping. Lamenting the lack of air-conditioning and overwhelmed by the foreign labels in the Vero Market, I was approached by a lovely American couple who were certain that we were fellow Americans. They knew not just because of the English, but because after 4 years here, they noticed that Macedonians rarely have 5 children in the family! I tried hard to remember their #, and I succeeded, but didn't call as things got busy.

We saw them again a week later at another mall, yes Skopje is THAT small, and they kindly invited us to a BBQ. They also invited another American family with sons close in age to Christopher. We had an enjoyable afternoon full of delicious food (terrific coleslaw...mmm) and great company. There were get-to-know-you games, crafts and a scavenger hunt for the kids, and good conversation. The kids bonded rather quickly and played nicely. It was a memorable picnic.

Painfully shy and silent, Anastasia nearly gave our host, Sam, a heart attack when she rambled on about the tooth fairy, after she lost her first tooth. Sam informed us of the Macedonian tradition of throwing your lost tooth onto the roof for good luck. I later confirmed this with our landlord, who said, "What else should we do with all those teeth?" I suspect there our many teeth on our roof! I suppose it's better than just shoving them in some drawer.

Our hosts had two adorable little dogs, whom they rescued from life on the street. They are sweet, affectionate, and well-behaved, but still street-savvy, as shown when they bolted after some cats to protect their territory. Stray dogs (cuchay) are really common here, and it's really hard not to snatch them all up and take them home with you! I applaud those who take them in, and I'm trying to convince my husband that Yotee needs a playmate!

Andrea, our hostess, shared photos of the home she and Sam are refurbishing for their retirement upon return to the US. Later, she brought out a fascinating photo album full of before and after images of the July 26th 1963 earthquake that devastated Skopje. She found it laying in the dirt and purchased it for a song at a Roma Bazaar. The images were amazing and stirring--once sturdy and tall buildings in ruin, homes collapsed, injured people helping others, and politicians like Kruchev and Tito touring the devastation. I knew the quake was bad, but those images put a new perspective on things. It is testament to the fortitude of the Macedonians and I am amazed at what they have accomplished in it's aftermath! She plans to donate it to a local museum before they leave Skopje.

I hope we have lots of days like that one here in Skopje!

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