“When I leave Macedonia, I’m going to be one giant carb.”
So, one of the big Peace Corps goals (the third one actually) is cultural exchange, specifically sharing our countries of service with America.
We do this by blogging, emailing, calling, sending carrier pigeons, and shouting from the rooftops how cool our countries are. This weekend, I shared Macedonia through carbs.
My wonderful friend Katie had travel plans with some friends in Budapest and because she’s the greatest, she hunted down a good deal on a flight to add a Macedonian weekend. In all fairness, she mostly wanted to meet Julie, but a close second was trying all the food I’ve been blogging, Instagramming, and bragging about for the last six months. (AKA ajvar.)
Katie and I used to work at the newspaper together in America and our coworkers nicknamed us Laverne and Shirley. Just to give you a little insight into our friendship, she reminded me over dinner our first night of the time she taught me how to change a tire and in the process, ripped the entire back seam of her pants. I couldn’t breathe because I was laughing so hard as she retold the story, not unlike when it happened. (Her underwear said rockstar across the butt. I laid on the sidewalk next to my car laughing for at least ten minutes before I could speak. I’m a great friend. Also, I’m definitely laughing again as I write this. )
I sent her no less than 12 emails filled with every detail she needed to get from the airport to the bus station and then on the correct bus to get to me in Kocani. I also gave her my Macedonian telephone number, just in case. (True to this country’s hospitality, someone on her bus let her borrow their phone to call me and confirm that she wasn’t lost in Skopje.)
First up, we ate.
I tried to fit in as many traditional dishes as we could in a few days, and they’re all carbs, hence her comment about becoming one. I also let her build the fire in the wood stove her first night. (I wanted her to have the whole Macedonian experience…and be warm.)
Have I mentioned that Katie is a saint?
I meant to.
She brought over a package of goodies from my mom, including a few things she has already tried to send that got lost in the mail. (Sigh.) She brought over the DSLR camera I bought on Amazon last week. Amazon doesn’t ship to Macedonia and even if they did, it might get lost in the mail. (Sigh.) MOST importantly, she brought two beautiful bags of Reese’s Pieces, Swedish fish, and shells and cheese! It took me a while to form whole sentences looking at all of the beautiful food items I’ve missed and the pretty, new camera I’m already obsessed with.
I lack impulse control, so I imagine the food will be gone by next weekend, but inhaling them will be incredible.
We had a great visit with my host parents, including Katie’s introduction to Turkish coffee and rakija. Don’t worry. We didn’t drink the rakija with our morning coffee. The water wasn’t working at my house, so my mom used it to clean the living room table. (Fact: You can use rakija for anything.)
Despite a rainy day, we also took a little walk around my village, so she could get a taste of life here. We spent the rest of the weekend in Skopje, so I was thrilled to share a little real Macedonia with her. She got to see a few of my students, who charmed her with their “hellos.” She also got some quality time with Julie, who purred and let Katie pet her. (While looking at me with disdain, of course.)
Katie’s visit coincided with the birthday weekend of three volunteers, so we spent the rest of the weekend eating (lots of) cake, running around Skopje, and continuing her culinary education of Macedonia. (AKA burek.)
The weekend even included karaoke, after one of our PST trainers found a bar that would let 40 Americans scream sing into a microphone for a few hours. (Yes, really 40. Karaoke, like brunch, is crack to Americans.)
In honor of my visitor, the birthday weekend, and Beyoncé karaoke (duh guys), I even dressed like a real person.
One of my coworkers told me last week she was going to write a song describing me, after I said I don’t wear a lot of make up or lipstick. Last weekend was the second time in six months. The first was for our silly, parody music video — again because Beyoncé.
Back in my village today, I’m exhausted from long days and late nights and sore from a late night apartment dance party in slippers, but overwhelmed with how great it was to share my world with one of my favorite Americans.