Indiansummer and other phenomena
Trip Start Jul 05, 2006
9Trip End Jan 08, 2007
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Greetings from cold Struga. We had an indiansummer here but it came to an end.
Now it is time to start to wear winter clother again. So, winter comes even to the
summer paradises. :)
Since my visit in Finland my mind has been - as usually - here and there and this month
has definitely been really interesting. Well, 5.-14.10. i had a lovely opportunity to take part in a training about voluntary management and SCI Sava-group ( = Balkan-working group) meeting in Bitola here in Macedonia. It was just great to be there, meet people from SCI-branches and partner organisations from the Balkans and also from elsewhere, such as lovely people from VIA-Netherlands. Being part of that magnisificant SCI-spirit was what I needed in order to remind myself once again why I actually came to this small town in Macedonia: to contribute somehow, and not to be just a tourist. We actually spoke that volunteers for peace and for tourism are different categories and maybe my bad luck has been that i ended up in an organisation that mainly deals with the latter one, if you put it in a nice way.
That's why it was so cool to meet people who do voluntary work really with their heart. It maybe sometimes really idealistic, but perharps idealism is what we need more in this world of cold facts. And who defines those facts anyway?
Besides working, we also did all the grazy things especially with Claire from the Netherlands and with Albanian girls Lorena, Alma and Anola. if somebody wants to dye her/his hair (and also the walls of the bathroom) or go to try on ridicilous clothes or to talk bad German, ask us. :) Claire and me would be also ready to practice our Swedish, anytime.
Here in Struga nothing and everything has been going on. Last week the Muslim population celebrated bairam and also i was invited to eat baklava (+ one of those over-sweet Turkish cakes) to my workmate Lume's home to Radovista near Struga. What a lovely place and what a cool mother she has. Those old women are just...lovely and so sincere.
But it is getting harder to understand the situation between Albanians and Macedonians here in elsewhere in Macedonia. When we came back from Radovista with my another collegue
Anita, the van was full of Albanians and she said to me that we both are strangers there. That was true. I don't know how i would react regardless in which side i was. in any case it is actually difficult not to take any side, even though it is better not to tell your opinions too loudly. Now part of the Albanian population in Struga wants to build a statue for one Albanian hero to the middle of the town. If it is good or not, i don't know. Where will it lead, who knows. When you talk with people, yuo hear so often so radical view points from both sides. Great-Macedonians and Great-Albanians are repeated, but maybe it is stupid to generalize that those would be the so-called public opinions. As a foreigner I generalize all the time but what can i really understand? Not much but even that is better than nothing. At least i hope so.
On last weekend I visited my ex-flatmate Barbara and her boyfriend Saso in Gostivar. it was lovely to see them again. And Gostivar is cool, it is a real town, maybe a bit messy but interesting. More Albanians than Macedonians are living there and alongside there is also a pretty big Turkish minority. On Saturday there was an open day in the school of Tolerance, where they have both Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish pupils. it was really nice there but of course the school works with the international money ( in this case Swedish and American). Those grant programs in order to establish the civil society in Macedonia are a bit sad, because great deal of the money seem to just go somewhere, without real monitoring. Some of the projects are for sure great, such as this school. Somebody explained that especially just after the conflict in 2001 in Macedonia, there were so many of those people giving money for projects what-so-ever that now many NGOs know that it is easy to get money. Too easy often, since this funding posibilities may also make them lazy. But i know that i look this situation from my own Finnish point-of-view, which is sometimes a bit narrow -minded. Easy answers and easy measures don't exict. And my work place, the day centre is part of the same story. No idea if we will have funding after new year or not. And the saddest thing is that they noticed this problem too late.
Now when Barbara moved, i got a new flatmate Anna. She is great, restless soul a bit like me and really a positive person. With her we decorated our flat again and noticed that such a thing as the help of men is not needed when two Finns decide to do something. :) We had also a house-forming party in our flat on Saturday but i was missing. I missed the last bus from Gostivar, but maybe that was better. All these relatioship triangles in a place where you really cannot choose with whom you are, are a bit childish. Struga is quite an irritating place in that sense and only lately i have started to understand that Struga is not the reality in whole Macedonia. This country is actually so unbeliavable interesting.
Yesterday, on the last day of the indian summer, we went with barbara, sasho and with his photography students to one cool village. Fresh air, sun, cool people. What else do we need? Not much i guess.
This week i will travel again, this time to the Netherlands. it is luxury this all travelling and i try to be happy about this now. in the netherlands my plan is basically to continue swedish and German exercises with Claire and meet some other people. They are cool.
Now i go out to the coldness,
All the best,
ps. I uploud pictures later, you know: posle