Macedonia! What a great place...
Who would've believed my backpack trip would have the perfect ending in Macedonia (of all places)? It is a long story and in all began long long ago in Kotor, Montenegro.
Arriving in Kotor, coming from Mostar, me and a Canadian guy called Nathan came into a really cool party hostel and where immediatly invited to go to the beach as soon as we arrived. Having just been on a bus for 8 hours, we where very happy to go swimming in the sea. Going to the beach with the two Aussie girls who invited us, we met two American Peace Corps volunteers. They told us they had been working and living in Macedonia for 2 years now. And since all Balkan languages are similar, they where able to talk in Montenegro with their Macedonian language, which came in handy. Then after I got to know them and their two friends (all peace corps) for a day and hearing stories about their volunteer work, I really wanted to join them to Macedonia. They offered to show me around and let me stay at their place/friends places, saying they could hook me up with some people in different cities. Beside the two guys and two girls from the Peace Corps, we hung around a lot with this other Canadian girl (Cindy) and a British girl (Lydia).
So... our 'group' in Kotor consisted of 8 people, of whom only four had been traveling together (the Peace Corps people), and the rest of us just met in Kotor (and I met Nathan in Mostar). We got along great, until it was time for Nathan to leave Kotor in order to catch a fligh to Greece. Also, Lydia and Cindy decided to leave Kotor on the second day. When I came back from the beach though, everybody who had planned to leave was still there. Turned out that Nathan had actually missed his flight, and the girls decided to stay another day. All of a sudden, after I decided I wanted to go to Macedonia with my new Peace Corp friends, both Nathan and Cindy and Lydia wanted to tag along. So the fourth day the eight of us took a bus to Skopje, the Capital of Macedonia. And from there the story becomes weirder and weirder...
We arrive after an overnight bus at 6 in the morning, then around 9, Lync calles a friend of his, saying he wants to bring over 7 people to sleep at his place. So, waking up Igor (Lync's friend in Skopje) and asking him to host 7 people felt kind of awkward, but he was kind enough to leg us come over. At first (being grumpy we woke him up early in the morning) he did not wanted to let us stay the night, but he changed his mind when he got to know all of us a little bit better. Unfortunately, Jory, one of the Peace Corps girls, had to go home already before going to Igor's (that's why there were only 7 of us, not 8 in Skopje).
Though Skopje is probably not the place where you'd spent a holiday, we had a great time having a watergun fight at Igor's house, going to a cool bar with a great Macedonian live band, and being with great people. The next day, we left another Peace Corps girl behind, going to Prilep with 6 people. This was the home town of Lync. He took us hiking up a big mountain to a monastery on top of this mountain, a climb of about 1200/1300 meters. We spent a night at the monastery.
Then Nathan actually really needed to catch his train to Greece in order to get his flight back to Canada. So, Chris and Nathan left, and then just four of us where all that was left of the original group (Lync, Lydia, Cindy and me). That day, being 3th of July, we prepared the barbeque that Lync was organising for his school collegues in Prilep for celebrating 4th of July (America's Independence day) the next day.
The 4th we did more preparation, we had the American style barbeque at the school and had, once again, a watergun fight, but this time in de town square in the middle of the night.
The next day was probably the most bizar experience of my entire trip. Every Peace Corp volunteer, or most of them, are supposed to organise a summer camp for their school kids (they where all teachers, at different schools all around Macedonia). Also a lot of other volunteers like to help out at each other's camps. So, Lync had to go help out at a summer camp in a tiny village (of about 200 people I think) at a camp organised by a girl named Julie (yet another volunteer). So, Cindy and I were quite excited to join him for the 'small village' experience in Macedonia. To make a long story slightly less long: I ended up giving Dutch lessons to the Macedonian kids (probably all between 10 and 14 years old or something like that), Cindy helped Lync with his origami class, we painted a mural inside on the school's walls, and slept for about 3 hours on the floor before kids started screaming, running around and waking us up at about 6 in the morning. So, back to painting, back to beer (just one glass to get rid of the hang over) and back to the screaming and annoying kids. Luckily, though the camp was supposed to last untill the evening, the kids just started going home early in the morning. Nobody knew why because camp wasn't over officially, but everybody including Julie was to tired to stop them, or to carry on with the camp. So we cleaned up, had to say goodbye to Julie, and together with most of the volunteers who helped out at the camp we took a bus out of the village.
Together with Lync and Cindy I went to Ohrid, probably the most famous and most touristic place in Macedonia, to meet up with Lydia again (who had gone there while we were at the camp). So, again, we were with the last four remaining pleople of the 'Original Kotor Crew' and saw yet another very cool place. Besides the fact that Ohrid was touristic, it was still great to be at a lake, swim, lay on a beach and take it easy after too much partying.
When we arrived in Macedonie, Cindy and I decided to book a flight out of Skopje on the 8th, and we both needed to go north, so today we flew to Venice, and had to say goodbye to the last of the 'Kotor Crew'. It was the last goodbye with somebody who I'd been traveling with for a long time (never before did I travel with somebody I met on the road for 10 days!) and now of to meet mam and dad in Italy.
The story does not cover all the great and weird thinks I have experienced in the last one and a half weeks, but I hope it gies an impression. See you all after my four week windsurf holiday!