Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fall Beauty and Thanksgiving Dinner

My home away from home.

          Hey there, it's been a while since I've written and that's because I've been focused with work, my daily routine and the perfect Fall weather we had.  I took complete advantage of the weather and hiked, ran, exercised or biked in or around the mountains all month. However, last week Winter began its march from the North and has come to stay. 

Shooting hoops between classes.
Daniella made avjar while the cats helped.  
This is a little nook underneath the church in the previous picture.  It's a great spot to chill at.
These students live in a smaller village near mine on the way to Ohrid. Every time I ride through I slow down so we can chat and high five. 
The first slava of the season. 
The key to surviving a slava is pacing yourself. Eat slowly, chat often and try not to breath in the cigarette smoke.
This is my store I made during a shopping lesson. Clearly, I wanted to have a coffee and eat breakfast.
Julia had a more diverse store. Many of the students did too.
Alright, these two brothers couldn't be more different but every now and then they have matching outfits.  
I told my coworkers that I wanted to clean off the Halloween decorations and make some Thanksgiving ones. They took the idea and owned it. 
They only wanted me to write Happy Thanksgiving. I loved their enthusiasm so I wasn't offended at all. 
          As you'll see the weather was perfect for nearly the past six weeks. People repeatedly told me that it's been the best Fall in 15 years.

Nearly everyday I was in the mountains behind my village.
I ran, exercised and was never bored with the beauty surrounding me. 
This monastery, built in honor of St. Nedela, is one I ran into. It's between my village and the Ohrid's sister city, Struga.  The word to describe being there is serene.
Here's Ohrid Valley. I've never breathed air this clean nor seen skies so clear for weeks on end.
Petar and I watched Planet Earth together and this is his mountain goat impression.  
I met up with my coworkers to listen to the school director's husband band play. (Say that 10x fast). They were good and everyone sang a bit too.
All that clean mountain air sprouted a burly mountain beard. 
I enjoy shopping and chatting with the people in the bazaar. Monday is the best day to go and I snapped this before heading in.
I teach at two schools. My main one is in my village and the second one is the Central School three miles down the road. This is my sixth grade class playing on their break.
          Obviously I enjoyed just working and getting outside but at the end of it was Thanksgiving. No matter how you spin it, it hurts being away from family.  In lieu of that there was a Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by the American Corner in Struga.  I've been going to the American Corner every Tuesday for Gina's, another PCV, painting classes.  When I found out about the dinner I immediately offered to cook the turkey.  I really enjoy cooking and also made some brownies. Also, on Thanksgiving we the Ohrid area volunteers got together for our own Thanksgiving Dinner. 

No turkey can be made without basting it with butter.  
It was quite the feast and had the youth from the GLOW club and YMLP sit down together. For most of them it was their first experience with Thanksgiving. We made sure to go around the table and say what we're each thankful for.
Just like camp.  
On Thanksgiving Julia and I had a lesson on Thanksgiving and showed them how to draw their own hand turkeys.  
The next day I went to class and found this. 
The end of Fall. Winter is here and has already brought snow to the mountains. 
          All in all, it was a good month and ended well with Thanksgiving. I hope you too had a nice Thanksgiving with friends and family. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015


"Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'awl's neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell."

          The past month was the busiest I've had since joining the Peace Corps and there's no sign of it slowing down.  Halloween is a non-Holiday here in Macedonia so I wanted my students to enjoy Halloween while giving it the same build up that we do back home.  Thus, for the entire month of October I incorporated Halloween themes into each lesson for every class in some form or another. Sometimes, it was nothing more than the students creating scary or funny stories from Halloween vocabulary. Other times, they listened to Halloween music or watched film clips from movies.  They all especially enjoyed Michael Jackson's Thriller!

          In my 9th grade English Reading Clubs, they watched Goosebumps, wrote creative stories and shared their favorite treats. By the end of October the kids were ready for a fun Halloween party, so we made masks, listened to music and ate some candy.  They seemed to really enjoy it and I was ready to just chill after a month of preparing each lesson.  

The master craftsmen, and women, at work.
There were zombies, princesses and ghosts.
I could not figure out what the block masks were.
One of the kids brought his Italian Renaissance mask.
I'm always game to have a laugh with them.
The 9th graders made smaller but really detailed masks.

These sixth graders were quite creative.
Afterwards some of the classes wanted to take their masks home and others wanted to hang them up in the classroom. Either way they were proud to show them off. 
          That also applied to celebrating Halloween.  With it being a non-holiday here in Macedonia  many PCV's traveled around to celebrate but I just traveled to Ohrid.  Jones and I watched the Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia. (Which was a well earned repeat by the All Blacks) and then met up with Kait and Victoria. Kait was hosting an event for her GLOW club so we helped her get some games started so the girls would chat and relax. Afterwards we went to our favorite pub for a drink and chat. After going full throttle for my kids I was happy to tone it down this year.
Clark is always looking for any excuse to undress.
Victoria was the Ohrid Sharknado.
Dammit Clark keep your clothes on!
I live in Eastern Europe why wouldn't I find an antique gun in a bar.
          Lastly, the new group of Mak 20's were told their site placements last week and, surprisingly, none will be coming to the Ohrid, Struga areas.  Honestly, that means Peace Corps Macedonia was able to put them in areas all over Macedonia and not just near the bigger cities. It's a good thing and gives them all an excuse to visit next summer.