Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Questions my Gramps asked

My grandpa sent me a list of questions about "everything he wanted to know about Macedonia." I figured I would share the questions and answers with you, in case you were curious! They took up four pages of paper to ask!

1.      The police do not carry machine guns. At least that I have seen. I mean they do carry guns, but not machine guns.

2.      The ambulance sirens sound a bit different but they still sound like sirens. I can’t explicitly remember police sirens, but possibly? People still get out of the way. However, ambulances aren’t like our ambulances- they are more like doctors on call maybe with life saving equipment, maybe not.

3.      I don’t exchange money. I pull it out of an ATM with my debit card and it comes out in denars (MKD). However, if I wanted to exchange money, I could do so at any number of exchange offices in the city. There is almost two on every street!

4.      I haven’t had wine with meals, but I have mostly ate with Americans. I do know they have a brandy like drink called rakija that is popular. And if you don’t drink people think you are weird- and they might not trust you.

5.      Cell phones are extremely popular! More people have those than house phones. And people even have the fancy ones were you can do a lot on them besides call. They are very into the whole internet age thing.

6.      The Embassy is on a hill, and there have been a few guards on hand at any given time, but not holding machine guns or anything. There are marines stationed there that live on the embassy ground. I’m sure it is wired for cameras and all sorts of things I can’t see when I walk up.

7.      Women do shave their legs (and underarms) and it is very important to look your best- so do it often! The men don’t J

8.      People don’t generally have good teeth at least the people I have meet. Well, I would say it is about a 45-55 good bad ratio.

9.      The bread can be sliced or not. It depends on how much you want to spend on bread. Sliced is more expensive. You can get white, wheat, and even whole grain or rye here.

10.   They have seen vegetarians before. J It’s not that common because most of their meals are large grilled meat items, but they do make some yummy stuff like Ajvar (grill, baked, roasted, and smashed red peppers sometimes with other stuff like eggplant thrown in for good measure). And their national dish is a bean dish.

11.   I think it cost about 70 denars. Post cards cost 20 denars. (as of now the exchange rate is 45 denars to one dollar.

12.   They have straws, and they use them with soda. You get the soda in a bottle and pour it into a cup to drink. It is weird to drink it from the bottle or can.

13.   It is apparently hard to just get plain black coffee when you go out. It usually has milk or sugar in it already. (Since I don’t drink coffee I am not sure if it is strong). You can get it to make it yourself just like in the states.

14.   People eat dinner later. Like when we go out at 6pm restaurants are empty, but they start filling up around 8ish. And people can stay awake all night long (well or until like 2 am and then go to work at like 7 am. They are crazy!

15.   Live chickens? I haven’t seen that. Cold cut meat of chicken or fresh cooked chicken- yes.

16.   I have no idea how much a newspaper costs as I haven’t bought one. Most people get their news online.

17.   People do have pets and I have seen many pet stores. I know there are a lot of dogs as pets, because I see them on leashes walking. I haven’t been in a house with a dog or a cat, but I see them in some windows/

18.   We have city heat. That means that we get our heat from a radiator with hot wter powered by the city. They don’t turn it on until Oct 15th at the earliest. They could even decide to turn it on later.

19.   Most of them are skinny. There are actually 9for the first time I’ve ever been abroad) I have seen fat people! Most of them are men, but a few women.

20.   There is a multiplex theater. I believe all the ones I have seen have at least 2 screens.  Apparently you can even bring in your own food and drink here with no problem!

21.   People chew gum and you can buy it in the grocery stores.

22.   I have seen a few American cars. Not a lot but a few.

23.   Gas works out to be about 6 or 7 dollars a gallon!

24.   Yes, the credit card works here. Most places take credit as well.

25.   You can’t buy Diet Coke. You can buy Coke Light 9same thing different name). A liter of soda is about 80 denar if you buy it in the store. If you buy it at a cafĂ© it is about 60-90 denar for one bottle.

26.   There is a McDonalds. But it is expensive here.

27.   We have THome with lots of channels (too many to count) and a DVR! We even get a few channels in English (FOXLife, FOX Crime, TV100, BBC, CNN).

28.   A lot of people ride buses. Mostly to get to or from work. However, people also walk a lot more here. Especially in Skopje. If you are trying to get from one town to the next you will also take a bus mostly.

29.   No cowboy church. There are a few Christian (non-orthodox) churches here, but they don’t advertise service or have a big presence. Most people are still not-religious due to communist times.

30.   Yes, people use deodorant. Lol

31.   The air is sort of clean. Like I see fog/smog every morning and night, but it doesn’t feel hard to breathe or anything.

32.   I am not sure about fluoride. I do know it is safe to drink and taste like water. They supposedly have the 3rd safest water in Europe or something like that

33.   We have a hot water heater in the bathroom, so yes- plenty of hot water! You have to separately heat up the water for the kitchen to do dishes however, and that one takes a lot longer and doesn’t work as well.

34.   Not a lot of bikes. People mostly walk places.

35.   People generally switch to English not to practice, but because they know I don’t speak very good Macedonian. So that is difficult for someone who wants to practice their Macedonian!

36.   There are a lot of little book stores, but they don’t stock everything. Like they had 3 of the 7(?) harry potter books and had no plans to get the others in.

37.   The streets are relatively clean. I mean every now and then you see trash, but not often. With trash, you take it out to the street to big bins yourself. There is no apartment wide drop off- you can put it in any bin along the street. And there are 3 bins per place it looks like, but they are not specific to apartments.

38.   I have not yet gone to a movie- so not sure about there. But I can buy a small box off the street for about 30 denar. It is yummy!

39.   They have both a lotto and casinos (these are all over the place). I do not know what the amount is with the lotto or how the casinos work.

40.   All fresh veggies- and you can buy them from these green markets where they come in everyday to sell them from the farms! I have seen tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plant, peaches, oranges, lemons/limes, peppers, squash, potatoes, garlic, leeks, cabbage, lettuce  (of some sort- I don’t know what kind).

41.   I have not tried traditional dishes yet. I hope to soon!

42.   No microwaves. They don’t seem to use them here that often. We re-heat everything in the oven.

43.   Beards? I haven’t seen very many, but then it has been summer until now.

44.   EVERYONE SMOKES! Like almost every single person and they do so often. They are not allowed to smoke indoors, but still sometimes it happens. Most of the time it occurs in the out doors sittings.

45.   Well…seat belts are required in the front seat. However, most taxi or buses have them cut out so you couldn’t wear them if you wanted to. But, some places have them and private cars do.

46.   Since, I don’t buy newspapers, I am not sure if they come out in the morning or the evening.

47.   I haven’t had a guy open a door for me specifically as a woman. But often the doors here are just left open most of the time in restaurants and cafes, so no opportunity to do so.

48.   School kids and some university students as well. I’ve seen them on the buses.

49.   Oh boy do they have pastry shops and yummy desserts! I just find them so delicious! And a lot (read the 2 grocery stores that are here) have pastries that you can buy in the stores.

50.   There is not DiGorno pizza here- there are a few frozen pizza options, but I do not think DiGiarno’s is one of them. However, you would never need frozen pizza here- you can get it at every place for food here (basically). And it is very yummy!

See you around the globe!

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