Where in the World is Rene?

The weblog of an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

I Learn the Macedonian Electric Slide and Whip It

Well Hello,

First off, OMG, I am sorry for being a neglectful blogger.  Sorry friends.  Worst.  Blogger.  Ever.  But truly, these last two weeks have flown by!  So much has happened that I want to tell you about!  So, hey, why don’t you stay awhile and pour yourself a beer or a cup of organic juice and I’ll tell ya…

I made luticka, which is a traditional Macedonian condiment.  Macedonians make a variety of delicious spreads that all involve more or less of the following ingredients; peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, onion, garlic and parsley.  This family of “bread slops” include ayvar, luticka and pinjur and maybe a few I haven’t been introduced to yet, but trust me I look forward to it and my crusty bread does too.

I went to TWO weddings last week! OPA!  They were great fun!  Macedonians love to dance “oro” which is like a giant line dance, except it is in a circle.  Imagine all the Whoos in Whooville singing at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and you have the general oro formation.  The oro lasts basically for the entire wedding and don’t be alarmed if a plate with a giant pig’s head or an American flag makes an appearance- it’s all part of the choreographed genius of oro.

I baked a pie. Apple. And it was damn good.  The literal Macedonian description for pie is “lazy pita.”  Huzzah!

My language group dressed up as Devo for Halloween.  We made the hats out of construction paper and packing tape.  The great part about making construction paper hats with community development volunteers is that, even in hat making, phrases such as “strategic scissor plan” and “load bearing tape” are still used.  P.S. I was the lead singer in our rendition of Whip It at Hub Day.

I got my first taste of grant writing on an anti-discrimination project.  The great part is that the org I work for really liked my ideas and I think I was able to suggest something that will be good for their organizational development, the bad part is that I think I may have planned the first Macedonian Diversity Day.  EEK.

Um, Barack Obama is President.  Did you know that?  Well, it’s a good one so I thought I would mention it. It was pretty interesting talking about American politics for the past few weeks here. rust me, everyone was interested.  I’m trying to be diplomatic about it.  I am also kinda excited about the story of my lil ballot because it took a lot of teamwork just to get it to the US.  Because I didn’t receive my absentee ballot (boo!) I had to print out an emergency write in ballot at the Women’s org.  I gave it to Risto my Community Development Facilitator who took it to the Peace Corps Satellight office in Kumanovo.  Once there he relayed it to my Training Director, Evelina, who took it to the main office in Skopje.  At the Peace Corps Main Office, the Country Director mailed it along with the official PC mail to headquarters in D.C.  What a journey for one vote!  But, I would have felt a tad hypocritical looking at voter protection projects here if I hadn’t even cast a ballot.

    So that’s the haps guys!  It’s been pretty fun and I have been enjoying myself quite a bit.  I’m going to go out with my fellow dobrovoltzi to celebrate the end of 8 years of having my soul punched (Bush Administration).  Don’t worry, I’ll pour one out for all of you.

    Eating Luticka

    Eating Luticka

    Someone has to wear the flag

    Someone has to wear the flag




      heidi wrote @

    no mine left behind!

      TerryR wrote @

    Rene, you look sooo….
    happy! Gaawwd we miss you; but what a great story. So happy you voted. OPA little Peehee!

      Debra wrote @

    Your Mom, Grama, Uncle Mike, Sydney, Mike and I are gathering here to play dominos, eat Mexican food (put together by Mike B.) and have a little cake – to celebrate Grama’s 80th Birthday.

    Erin, Mike, Grama and I went to the cabin for an overnight trip. Played dominos – had some wine – Erin made French Onion Soup – good eats.

    Grama says Hi and will write soon.
    Signing off, Whooooooo Whooooooo!!!
    Aunt Debra

    Grama says Hi

      Brandon wrote @

    Haha, well played on the Devo! If you do in fact have a diversity day don’t give the white American index card to yourself. The next time people complain about having to wait in line to vote I’ll remind them it’s not always as easy as waiting in line for some people, you’re awesome! I couldn’t be happier you are enjoying your time so far, wish you could tell me the stories in person 😦

    Talk to you soon

      ash wrote @

    I want some of that slop! and a hat of my own. maybe i’ll make one now. It’s about time you told more of your tale! the 2 minute instant message sessons weren’t painting a complete picture. something something DARK SIDE. something something… complete.

      Stacy wrote @

    Lookin good in that Devo hat. I’m gonna post your link on Facebook so peeps can see what some people have to go through to vote!! I spent a weekend in Reno, Nevada desperately convincing voters to drive to the grocery store and do it in two minutes. Spoiled we are! Looks like things are up the upside though ey??

      TerryR wrote @

    Ne, I just saw Stacer’s comment on your first post about the “integral beans.” HaaaHahahahhaaa, (that’s LOL, for oldsters by the way.)

    I ate spaghetti squash slop last night, does that count? There were tomatoes and basil and gorgonzola. Do they have gorgonzola cheese in Macedonia?

      Mike wrote @

    That’s What She Said!

      TerryR wrote @

    We want to know more! Tell us about Thanksgiving.

      other mom wrote @

    OMG, this is fantastic! Love seeing you and the photos. Makes me feel like you are here with me, well okay, except for the ocean and the Mexicans!!!
    I loved reading all about your day and the food you eat. I want you to tell me how people live and cook and if the people are poor and to what extent. Is yor bed the same as ours? What are the walls and houses made of? Take a picture of the area where you live. That would be interesting to me.

    As you know, here in Mexico/Baja there is no mail system to speak of. There are the very rich and the very poor and the American/Canadians. That’s how it works here in Baja.
    I am so proud of you and the things you do to Challenge and improve yourself. You never cease to amaze me. I would have never had the courage to do the things you do at such a young age. I love and miss you. Will try to skype you again but I think the time difference is an issue. My computer is always on so you can try me when it is good for you. love, pj

      Adrijana wrote @

    Hi, I don’t think I actually know you, but I hosted a peace cor volunteer about 10 years ago. It was great fun when she was here and I would be happy to connect to current or former peace cor volunteers, so write to me if you like. My email address is: adrijana.prokopenko@gmail.com and my skype id is adrijana832

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