I didn’t write a blog post last week, and I spent all week feeling bad about it. I’ve written a post here at least once a week since the end of September, even when nothing really interesting has happened. But last weekend, I just wasn’t feeling it; it was almost like I had too much to say, and since I couldn’t settle on a subject, I just avoided the blog entirely. So even though I don’t have anything really profound to talk about, I wanted to get on here if only so that my procrastination doesn’t turn into a habit.
Two weeks ago was our first big official Volunteer get together since we swore in last December. We all went to Skopje for four days for our technical IST (in service training, which kind of sounds like what you would call a tune up for robots in a sci fi movie to me) and we spent all day every day in different workshops about challenges we might be facing at this point in our service, ideas for how to do our jobs more effectively, and getting to know the staff a little better. We have a new Country Director, and so we got to spend some time talking to him and learning about his background. Someone from the US embassy came to answer our questions about the evolving political situation and upcoming elections (which you can read about here and here). Our counterparts came for the last two days and we got to do those sessions together, which was really productive. Overall, a good and tiring week away.
Part of what kept me from writing last week was that I was just pulled in so many places mentally. My dad had had a mild heart attack while I was in Skopje; he’s fine, but it’s still not something you want to have happen when you’re literally half a world away (also, modern medicine is amazing. They cleared his blocked arteries THROUGH HIS WRIST and he left the next day with a bandaid. Incredible.) I also have been thinking a lot about my friends lately. I have the privilege of knowing some pretty talented and accomplished people, who are doing things like getting doctorates and buying houses and getting engaged and being promoted and having babies and just generally rocking life right now. I am so proud of all of them and wish I could be there to see them and hug them and tell them how amazing I think they are. It’s one thing to know you’re going to miss all of this when you move overseas (and to be honest, I live far away from a lot of my close friends even when we are in the same country), but it’s also hard to see their lives grow and change and not be there to share those moments with them. Getting to Skype and chat with some of them last week made my heart happy, and it reminded me to be better about staying in touch.
Back in Sveti, you can really tell that spring is flying by. It’s officially warm enough for ice cream and eating al fresco, and we’ve also been spending quite a lot of time in our hammocks. I’m powering through books and just started in on my biannual Harry Potter reread. Our winter clothes have been officially stowed away, and I’m exercising more to make sure my summer clothes actually fit (a winter full of бурек has not been kind to my waist line). Our family has the garden all prepped and ready for seedlings, and in addition to all of our fruit trees we’ll have tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and a whole lot else to eat come summer. I can’t wait! Even the grape vine is starting to grow some leaves.
This past week has been busy with work; Kyle is getting his environmental clean-up project off the ground, and has his first event with the primary schools in two villages next week. We held an info session with high schoolers interested in attending GLOW and YMLP (peace corps-led summer camps) and made some connections with the municipality and the schools here, in addition to going around and hanging up flyers for the session without knowing how to say “to hang” or “flyer” (which it turns out is флаер, the same word with a Macedonian accent). I finally had a meeting with the hospital director and might be able to move forward with getting donated medical equipment sent to a few local municipalities. I’m working on translating some documents for a grant (honestly, what did people do before Google Translate? It’s not always the best, but it makes life so much easier for bulk translation).
Anyway, basically, life just keeps rolling along. I’ll be better about taking pictures this week. Next weekend we’re headed up to Kumanovo to help with the spelling bee and do some hiking, and maybe eat lots of бурек and ice cream.