In September 2015, I’m headed to Eastern Europe, to a small country called The Republic of Macedonia. (The Greeks refer to it as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.) It is located north of Greece, between Albania on the west, and Bulgaria on the east. It’s northern area borders Kosovo and Serbia. It is mountainous with a valley where the Vardar River flows. It is the southernmost region of the former Yugoslavia, where most of the wine of Yugoslavia was produced.
Macedonian is the language spoken by the majority, and Albanian by the Albanian ethnic minority, mostly concentrated in the western part of the country. There are five other languages recognized officially by Macedonia. Peace Corps volunteers are taught Macedonian, with a few volunteers who are assigned to sites in the west learning Albanian also.
When I left Greece 40 years ago, I traveled through Yugoslavia on my way to America. I remember it being incredibly beautiful, with excellent wine and warm friendly people. The area is historically and culturally rich, with plenty of old sites to visit, music and dance, and food to expand my cooking/eating repertoire. I’m really looking forward to this new chapter in my Peace Corps experience.
Here are some pictures that got me very excited: