Sunday, July 19, 2009

Last Day Donkey Celebration

Today is the last day of SIT State Building and Human Rights in the 'South Balkans' summer semester... (whatever the South Balkans means.) To celebrate we went to a village about 30 minutes from Ohrid for a donkey-tour and a traditional meal. The donkey ride was wonderful, it was organized by a village that survives by collecting and selling mainly wild strawberries, thyme, and boletus mushrooms. My donkey was named 'muzika' and was typically stubborn. We toured a very nice pristine valley where the village goes to collect natural items. There was one small incident, however when a male donkey decided to... express his interest in a nearby female. The villagers needed to wrestle him off her which became further complicated when his hoof got stuck in her saddle.

We continued by eating a traditional meal: complete with fresh strawberry juice and the best yogurt I've ever had. Of course it wasn't complete without a 12-noon shot of rakija. Speaking of rakija. . . next we went to the local homemade rakija still which of course was funded by the Orthodox Church. Finally we went to a second village where they have a 300 yearold tradition of washing rugs in the nearby natural spring. They have routed the water into a dugout stone vat where they rinse rugs from all around the region.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Photo Essay & Program End

So the program is coming to a close. I have four days in Ohrid to write my paper and then I am free to travel independently. I am writing about music in Kosovo as an index of the political situation and focusing a lot on the band "Jericho Walls," famous for their song "Don't Fuck With Albanians." Little of note has happened here. One cool thing is that I did meet a freelance ecologist who splits his time between Macedonia and Kazakhstan. We met on and he gave me some tips for travelling in Central Asia. On sunday we might go for a hike. Also today a small boat passed me as I was working on the lakefront, in which was a 5-person Roma orchestra playing music as they rowed past.

Here is the photo essay I've submitted as my "reflection journal" for the program.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wedding Crashers

A few days ago we went to a Turkish\Roma wedding in a nearby town called Bansko. It was great fun and as soon as I started speaking Turkish we made fast friends who welcomed us and encouraged, if not forced us to dance... a lot. The band was fantastic and played non-stop tallava for the 17 yearold bride and 19 yearold groom.... There isn't much more to say about the party. We didn't want to steal the bride's thunder since the town rarely sees Americans and we got a lot of attention. After about 2 or 3 hours we left, but I'm told the party went on into the next day. Here are some photos:

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