Where in the World is Rene?

The weblog of an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

Zdravo Makedonija!

Well Zdravo,

Ok, I’m here deeeep breath … and I’m OK! I mean I’m Dobre!

I landed in Skopje on Monday and was greeted by our Country Director and his glowing staff of host country nationals and current PCVs.  Then it was off to the town of Kumanovo and the hotel Satelit where our week of (dis)orientation would take place.  It has been quite a blur and between being jet lagged and overwhelmed with new info I kinda feel like I may have a permanently vacant facial expression for the next three months.  Oh, and on top of that- welcome to Macedonia- here’s the flu!  I have been sick for the last three days and that is always a little freaky in another country.  BOO! I jest, I have had some good times and I have met some very wonderful and interesting people amongst the mix of Macedonian Peace Corps Staff, current Volunteers and my fellow Trainees.  I do feel like I am living and working with like minded folks (read: hippy liberal globe huggers) and I do feel like this is where I am meant to be.

So not being one to take the easy Peace Corps road (yeah, like there is one) I have applied to work in a multi-ethnic community.  If I am chosen for this opportunity then I will be living in a mixed or predominantly Albanian community and I will learn both Macedonian and Albanian languages.  I will also have the experience of living with an Albanian Muslim family.  I am very excited to hear if I am chosen for this position and I feel like this would be a great way of having as many different types of experiences as possible! Dobre!

I’m also learning some fun things about my own culture in my “the government is going to tell you how to be culturally sensitive now classes.”  For instance, did you know that Americans are an overwhelmingly jubilant bunch?  I didn’t think so either, but I am told that we are given to frivolous bouts of smiling and cheering and that this is a very noticeable and intimidating characteristic.  I’m now in a no clapping zone!  So I have been trying to keep a lid on singing in the streets where the predominant facial expression is… how do I say…restrained jubilation.  Also, Americans (at least Peace Corps Volunteers) are not such snappy dressers.  At least not compared to the stylin Macedonians.  Well, now I know what I will be asking for  Christmas gifts- a Bedazzler, a glittery belt and probably some sort of faux fur vest.

Well, I’m off to have my fourth coffee of the day!

I miss you all! Valla!

One Week in the Valley

Well hello there.  I officially have one week left at home before I leave for Philadelphia and beyond (and really, really beyond) and I am trying to prepare myself for departure and leaving home for two years.  So I have come to the decision that I am living, to a lesser extent, within a Mitch Albom book.  During my last week at home I have found myself trying to pinpoint what specifically Phonecian and personally important events and experiences will I miss the most while I am abroad (and then I want to do them).   Given that I don’t have the resources to do many of the things I really want to do (like go up to Flagstaff) because I have no gas money and I must save time for packing, I have come up with the following list:
Eat at Pizzeria Bianco

Hike Camelback

Have a beer at Haus Murphy (preferably with the Germans)

Wii and Mojitos with Ashley

Play ball with Tater (this should probably be everyday)

Have the churro dessert at Barrio Cafe

Dominoes at Grandmas house

Lie in my hammock and achieve the perfect tan

Grapefruit Margaritas in the pool

Finish LOST (not really important or related to Phoenix, but I MUST know what happens)

OK, so this is the Bucket List.  These are the things I will try to accomplish before going off to live the PCV dream in Macedonia.  I’m off to do one of them right now…