Of Rice and Mountains

Two significant things happened today.

1. A fellow trainee and I brought apple pie and apple crumble for our classes.

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2. We found out where we will be living for the next two years.

(I stand by the order of those announcements.)

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I’ll be living in a small village near Kocani, at the base of the Osogovo mountains in northeast Macedonia. (I’m already planning with nearby volunteers to climb the heck out of them.) It’s not very far from the Bulgarian border. Rice has been a staple crop in the area since before WWII.

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I’ll be teaching English at a primary school, working with students ages 6-14. I’ll meet my new host family, a couple in their 50s and 60s and a daughter in her 30s, next month.

Over the last month, Sveti Nikole has started to feel like home. I have an incredible group of friends in my fellow trainees. We have the best language and culture teachers in Peace Corps Macedonia. (No, but seriously. Blog post on the learning, coming soon.)

I have a sweet family and I’m comfortable here. Yesterday, my host mom told me if I was placed in Sveti, they wanted me to stay with them.

I’m not sure what it’s been like in other training communities, but overall I think Sveti hasn’t really stressed where we go next. I had never even seen a list of the options, and I knew some of the cities and villages by name, but not much else. I tried not to set any expectations for where I would end up.

Instead, I made pie.

Tuesday evening, my friend Rachel and I bought all of the apples in Sveti and got to work. (Read her blog here.)

Her host mom popped in and out of the kitchen, checked on our progress, adjusted the oven temperature and laughed at our conversations about our favorite Turkish soap opera, Cила. (See-la.)

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Rachel told me her host parents had another laugh after I left, recalling that I said the leading man was quite handsome. (Probably also because I initially called him a handsome woman. Whoops. Sorry Boran.)

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I’m not sure how many kilos of apples it took, but we ended up with an enormous apple crumble and a beautiful, lattice apple pie. (Ain’t no 9″ pie plates in Mak. They don’t mess around.)

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Her host brother was excited that he finally got to try a “Tom and Jerry pie.” (He’s seen similar pies on the cartoon show.)

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Both apple treats were a hit with almost everyone. (My host sisters wanted nothing to do with the pie. Oh well. #kids)

And then we got our new placements! It’s starting to sink in that training will come to an end and we’ll be on our own, without our Sveti family.

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I think that will be a big test. (And a great time to reach out and say hi, send me a letter, Swedish fish, you know, whatever.) Pre-Service Training has been Macedonia with training wheels. I’m anxious to see what it’s like when they come off and we head to our new homes alone.

I have a feeling we’ll fall off a few times. (Our metaphorical bikes. Get it? Fine, it’s corny.)

When that happens, I’m making more pie.

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12 thoughts on “Of Rice and Mountains

  1. I was thinking of you the other day when someone at work mentioned some foodstuff that had been sitting in a container on Chad’s desk for at least a week, and someone else said, “You couldn’t pay me enough to eat that.” I thought, If only Rebekah were here … Anyway, good luck in Kocani, where the official motto, according to Wikipedia, is “City of rice and geothermal water.” Maybe you can help them work on that.

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    • That’s so sad. I’d send something your way, but by the time it arrived, that stuff on Chad’s desk would look good in comparison. And thanks! I’ll see what we can do about the motto.

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