Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Week Between Travel Part 2

I’ve been titling these the posts “The week between” but really they are more like the two weeks and a weekend between travel.  The weeks are standard- work at an NGO, work on new TFA stuff, read, try to get too much done, etc.

On Saturday April 21, Florozon (the NGO I am working with one day a week) along with the US Embassy sponsored a “Keep Vodno Beautiful” preservation hike. Now I had never heard of a preservation hike, but I was all for picking up some trash. This country is literally littered with trash. Almost everywhere you turn there is something there. People just don’t seem to care that much about putting stuff in trash bins. Surprisingly enough Vodno was pretty clean on the path, so there wasn’t a lot to clean up. But if you went off the trail at all it was covered, but off the trail was steep drop offs and thorns and scary looking stuff. I went up with Cecelia (from IWA) to start off the day. There was a really great showing of people, both American and Macedonian.

 The Ambassador and 2nd in command came out, as (I think) did the Mayor of Skopje. They handed out shirts, hats, gloves, water and apples to people. We, of course, started about 30 minutes later than stated. I got separated from the main group almost right away (I was still with people, just not the main group). When I realized there wasn’t a lot of trash, I just started putting it in other peoples bags so we didn’t make MORE trash for the environment. The Ambassador and a few people got really into it and were so running off into the side of the hills through the brambles and everything. (since I had not been feeling well, and didn’t wear pants that were capable of doing so, I just stayed on the path and tried to find trash to pick up. Then it started raining, I stuck it out for about 30 more minutes before the others who had turned around were coming back and caught up with us. They did collect a lot of trash though! Wow!

two of the three people that I work with at the NGO.

On Sunday, April 22 the American Corner was doing an Earth Day event at the zoo. Since I hadn’t ever been to the zoo here, I decided to go. (This was on my list for a while, so I was super excited to have an excuse to go!) Nevenka had also asked me to take a bunch of pictures for them, because their camera was going to die. (I took over 300 some odd photos, by the way!)

They had it set up so kids could go from continent to continent to learn about the different animal species that were endangered on those continents. Then there was a zoo tour. Then a prize drawing! I went around and looked at a lot of the tables, but since it was all in MK, also wandered around the area and looked at the nearby animals.
like a guina pig exhibit. like at a zoo?
Then they offered a tour of the zoo. I figured I would go on it even though it was in Macedonian because I might understand a bit and would get to see more things at the zoo!
they even had the press there!
 They have some cool animals there, and some famous one. The zoo didn’t used to be in good condition, but they have seriously shaped up over the past few years! But people still like to feed the animals things they shouldn’t- like chips and bad for you stuff. After part of the tour, well most of it, Gordona and I snuck back to meet Nevenka and grab a bite to eat. I din’t think I’ve ever drank a ½ liter of water that fast, I was so thirsty! It was super hot that day and I even got sunburned! When the kids got back, they had the prize drawing with a secret surprise at the end- the last three kids drawn got to go into the lemur cage and feed them!

(and I got to tag along so I could take pictures!) When we first got in there, they weren’t having any of that fruit stuff, so the keep went and got a package of raisons and they went crazy for the raisons. I think we were in there for about 15 minutes or so? Towards the end, as I was taking a picture, I felt this little scampering up my back and froze.

All of a sudden I had a lemur on my shoulder, just chillin’. After the event was over, we went a looked around the rest of the zoo before heading home to just relax. It was a long day!
the scraf was more "too little too late sun protection" than actual cold because it was still really hot!

On Tuesday, April 24, I was invited to go to a mime event by Marissa. Since I had never been to a mime performance, I decided to go. (I mean how many times do you ever get invited to a mime performance?) We met up for dinner at Kaj Marshalot, where I had been wanting to go. It was supposed to be decked out in old communist memorabilia and they were supposed to be dressed as pioneers. (they weren’t and it wasn’t) but the food was still yummy! We ended up having front row seats at the performance and little did I know, that didn’t bode well for me! (or it boded extremely well, it just depends on how you look at it…) Marissa knew the guy who was preforming, he comes from the same small island in Maine that she lived on before joining the State Dept. We saw Avner the Eccentric preform. And he was AMAZING! Oh my gosh, it was so much fun! If he is coming to a town near you, go see him.

So- a mime performance, what exactly is that? Well, I’m sure youtube can help, but, basically they preform wordless comedy. They do tricks, they make a fool of themselves, and they let you relax.  He kept making faces to me, because I happened to be sitting on the aisle and was a girl I think. But it was fun! I even got pulled up on stage once! And there is video to prove it. No pictures though.

After the performance, we hung out at the reception before heading to our respective homes.

On Wednesday, April 25, two fun things happened. I got to give a presentation of my research findings and go drink Macedonian wine! I had been approached by the Center for Research and Policy Making in Skopje to give a talk about my research. It was great! I had a wonderful presentation (click here to see a picture and a short article about it) and great conversation with the participants there. I got to talk about the ways I think the government should be more involved in non-governmental organizations in Macedonia.  I mentioned how more money should be spent, but if they can’t spend more money, they should be more active. The actual politicians should set an example and be more active in organizations that they care about. They will be able to lead by doing, which is so important in a culture that doesn’t seem to really volunteer.

Then it was off to the International women’s Association annual Wine and Cheese tasting event. For 500 MKD (about $10) you could drink all the wine and eat all the cheese from around Macedonia that you wanted! So worth it! Lizzie, Justin, Erin, Aryn and I went over there. We ended up meeting up with Angjie who was working the event and got to enjoy a lot of yummy (and a few not so great) wines. We had a blast and ended up staying until it was over. When we got back to the center, they wanted to grab a bite to eat, so we tried to go find an open place. But those places that say they stay open until one am? Well they close their kitchen at 11pm, go figure jerks. So no food. But sleep!

See you around the globe!

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