makin' friends at the pazar

first, a short quiz.

Finish the sentence.

1. Heidi is __________.

a) Albanian
b) American
c) Bulgarian

The correct answer is clearly 'b', but i do hear about people around here thinking i am albanian. and today, someone was convinced i was bulgarian for about 5 minutes until my macedonian vocab failed me at the market.

let me expand on that story because it was cute/annoying.

there is a small pazar in Cair that I go to on occasion, more now that i have somewhat conquered my irrational fear of markets and it does not make me feel as people claustrophobic as the bit pazar. i have been trying to go to the same stands to build up a rapport with some of the people there and feel like a part of the community. there is one lady who gets happy to see the "amerikanka" at her stand. there is an albanian guy who sells mostly fruit and knows pretty good english, but does not understand why i bother working an NGO for the disabled when there are only, quote, "10, maybe 20" people with disabilities around here. why don't i help other people since everyone here is poor? besides his strong opinion about my work here, he's cool. today, i met a new lady.
when she saw me coming close to her stand, she bolted up from her wooden crate box doubling as a chair and started in with an endless serving of povelete's. i hadn't even figured out what i wanted yet, so i said broccoli since i hadnt seen any yet and i figured she would just say she didnt have it and sit back down and leave me be to peruse.


she tells me she doesn't have any. its not in season yet. don't i want some lovely onions? and then starts telling me i have to go to vero if i want some broccoli and i say thats fine, i know where it is, thank you. she keeps telling me directions to vero, even though i tell her i live right by it and yes, i still know where it is. then she asks me if i am bulgarian. when i say no, i am american, she throws her hands up as if i was a lost cause, EVEN THOUGH WE WERE HAVING A CONVERSATION IN MACEDONIAN ALREADY FOR 5 MINUTES. then she puts her hand on my shoulder and starts leading me away from her stand and towards the way to leave the pazar. i start worrying that she is really going to walk me to vero! then i hear her muttering that she must show me to the man who speaks english, who happens to be my fruit selling friend. when she comes over with me, we shake hands and she tries explaining to him that i do not know where vero is and that i am in deep need of broccoli. luckily fruit man has my back. we shake hands and he explains to her that im going to be here for a while and that i work here. aha. we start talking in macedonian again, suddenly i am intelligible again. so my other pazar lady friend comes over, and she happens to have two small bunches of broccoli. sigh. after all that... i buy the broccoli.

Lessons Learned:
DO NOT enter the pazar without a slight clue to what exactly you want.
DO NOT try to outfox pazar ladies.