Walking up at 4:30 in the morning is only worth it if you are traveling somewhere.
Like to Greece!
Daniel is working with a group called “Nazboram.” They are a group of Aegean Macedonians who left Greece when they were all under the age of 14. Then they moved around to different parts of Eastern Europe before settling in Macedonia. They were returning to their home villages (and apparently applying for birth certificates, which we didn’t find out until later). And they offered to let us come along and go with them. Daniel’s wife (Anjie) and two kids (Aidan and Eliana) and myself that is. The other Fulbrighters were offered it but chose not to accept.
So anyway, we left at 6 a.m. from the Holiday Inn after they picked me up from the apartment. The bus then preceded to go leisurely through the countryside of Macedonia and pick up other people along the side of the road. We didn’t get to the border until about 6 hours into the drive.
And then. Oh then.
In case you do not know the history between Greece and Macedonia- there is a case of bad blood that Shakespeare couldn’t have imagined. Greece doesn’t believe that Macedonia should be called Macedonia because Macedonia is a region in Greece and Macedonia is a name that should only belong to Greece. So Greece only recognizes Macedonia as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or FYROM. Since they don’t believe that the Republic of Macedonia is a real country- Greece doesn’t recognize their passports. And since they don’t recognize their passports they need special papers to get into Greece.
We passed through the Macedonian side of the border in about 15 minutes (since there were a lot of us). And we sat at the Greek border for almost two hours. They took their sweet little time filling out the names and passport numbers of the Macedonians. With numerous cigar breaks. And lots of questions about their families (where were you born?, where were your parents born? What are you doing in Greece?). Then the guy got to the back of the bus where we were and asked me something in Greek. And I went English? And he went American? (yes) *shrugged shoulders* You are ok! And walks away. It was so interesting.
Once we finally got moving again we drove through Greece and then arrived at the hotel for the night. Well, we thought that it would involve going back out in a bit, so we ran to a fast food place, an ATM and back to the hotel for the meet up.
Well, in true Balkan fashion they were meeting to decide how to visit the villages. The organizer thought that they were just going to take taxis to some of the villages and not the bus to all of them. This did not make people happy. At all! There was a long drawn out argument with lots of shouting on all sides. We finally escaped and went to explore this little village that we were in. Lots of cool pictures.
And Hot Chocolate! And French fries and pizza and monuments.
Then to sleep and wake up the next morning for the next day of travel!
See you around the globe!