17.12.08

Welcome to the Posh Corps

I’ve made the move to my post, in Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia. Swearing-in happened on December 12th without any problems. My counterpart and my host family (Mitat and Razije) came to the ceremony. If you want to see some of it, go to the US embassy page for Skopje, or click here. The remainder of the day was happily spent at the Irish Pub with многу лашко темно.

Move-in day was uneventful, beyond the scope of actually moving. My only gripes were failing to say proper goodbyes to my Romanovce friends and losing my med kit in a wild taxi. Besides that, everything was great.

My apartment is super nice. To anyone reading from MK who heard me complaining about my housing situation – strange bathtub, lack of washing machine, hotplates ‘n’ toaster oven etc, I offer my sincerest apologies. I feel like this place looked so different when someone was living in it. It is interesting to think that what I paid for 4 months in Philly for a room in a row house could more than cover the entire year’s lease for my place here. (edit: 3 weeks later, i find out that i have a view off of my balcony of snow capped mountains. i just needed a sunny day to find out.)

Cooking with two hotplates, one burner 1400W and the other 1000W, has been an adventure. You have to remember that the burner is still hot for several minutes even after turning it off. I’m still figuring out the oven. I used it for the first time today to make sarma. My sarma wasn’t nearly as good as the sarma Evan’s host mom makes, but it was good for a first try and with a makeshift kitchen. I also used soy granules for the first time. I like them so much I might try to be a vegetarian for realz- but no promises. I did my laundry by hand two nights ago too. That was as horrible as I expected it to be, but it was also my fault since I hoarded up a lot of dirty clothes so I could avoid the laundry detergent of choice in Romanovce. I am not convinced hand washing actually cleans clothes either, but when i think about it, what more is the machine doing?

My first day on the job involved 4 hours of talking about conspiracy theories and ethnicity issues with Blerim since the president was in Kosovo for a conference. Very interesting. The second day, I was proofing an English version of a project proposal. Today, third day, I had a meeting with my Peace Corps program manager Nadica who helped me sort out some misunderstandings with my org that made me freak out on the inside yesterday. By the end of today, I was really psyched about what we are working on. Yes, we are already doing work.

I finally had a creepy old man experience in Macedonia. I thought it was strange that it hadn’t happened yet, after all the prepping for unwanted attention during training. Someone I had met and should have been trustworthy turned out to be a bit pervy. He saw me walking home from work at 3 in the afternoon and offered to give me a ride, indicating that I should sit in front. I would never sit up front in a taxi alone, wild or no, but I had already met this man in a safe setting with people I already trust completely. As we are going towards my apt, he starts grabbing my left hand and just holding it, or patting me on the leg. And then, saying something about coffee and massages at his house, or so I thought. wtf? Seriously? You are Old and Married and Ew. I make up something that my friends are coming over and I have to go back home. He drives past the entrance of my building and turns to park on the side, and turns the engine off. Then I realize he meant at massages at My House. When it all sunk in, I just started to say No and Bad in Macedonian/Albanian with the finger wagging and tongue clicking. There is no way that would fly with any woman from Macedonia. He stayed in the car and I went home, but it was still totally weird. Eh, I knew it would happen at some point, and I’m positive it will happen again. I hope next time I'll have better vocabulary for verbal chastising.

I’m getting sleepy, but for my last tidbit:

Last night I went to a Christmas get-together at the British Embassy, hence the title referencing the Posh Corps. I had gluwein (I don’t even like gluwein that much, but the atmosphere made it better and necessary), mini mince pies, and christmas carol singing surrounded by people with nice accents. Most people who know me know that I am not a fan of Christmas, but this one occasion made me feel happy that it was Christmas time. Maybe it was close to what I’ve always wanted Christmas to be in my head. Or maybe it was being surrounded by people who speak English in a foreign country and feeling like we are united by this holiday’s traditions. Either way, there is small glimmer of hope that I will come to love christmas again someday.

1 comment:

Kait said...

i don't speak macedonian so i have no idea what you enjoyed at the irish pub.

glad that swearing in went well and you like where/what you're doing!! that's great. what is the project like?

love the gumption with the pervy man... i would suggest working "baaaaaad" into the next chastising.

did you sing the chirstmas carols too!? pretty soon you'll be painting easter eggs (it's a slippery slope of holidayease).

what's the weather like?