Hello everyone! We've touched down in Macedonia, our new home. Not to be confused with the ancient Mesopotamia. Below is a map for you because, why on earth would you know where this teeny tiny country is located?? :) Just next to Bulgaria and just north of Greece. Should prove to be a pretty ideal location for regional travel. Travel to the rest of Europe? Not so much! The flights from here are horrible and expensive!
So, first impressions? The country appears to be very small and the capital city, Skopje is small as well. I think there are about 600,000 people in Skopje and 2 million in the entire country. We have a mountain here much like we did in Sofia. But overall, the land appears to more dry and arid. The landscape reminds me a lot of Greece. Dry, rolling hills, etc.
The people overall seem much friendlier. I understand hardly any of the language (even though it's quite close to Bulgarian...the stresses on words are so different.) There is much more of a muslim population here than in Sofia. The other night we slept with the window open and could here the morning call to prayer, pretty cool.
At the moment, I am busy comparing everything to Sofia...the city, the embassy, everything. I really do miss our Sofia life. Which is funny, coming from someone that proclaimed to many people that Matt and I could live anywhere. I know we will be fine, but it is definitely an adjustment. The good thing about living overseas is that you learn a lot about yourself. I used to think that change was exciting, now I'm learning that I like to be settled. I hate the unsettled feeling. We had a wonderful, well greased machine of a life in BG and now we are starting from scratch again..
On positive notes, we love our house. It's strange for apartment people to actually be in a house, it feels so big to us! We have rooms we don't even go into! Our living area is great and provides space and comfort that we did not necessarily have in our "treehouse" of an apartment in Sofia. I also enjoy our little backyard. I haven't perfected our bathroom situation yet. I've heard our master bedroom and bathroom gets EXTREMELY cold in the winter, which doesn't surprise me since it is currently pretty cool and it's 80 degrees outside. I don't love the set up and am not sure what I can do to make it a bit more conducive for me. We DO have an American washer and dryer, which if you remember our early days in Sofia then you'll remember doing laundry was one of the great mysteries of the world for me there! So the American washer and dryer and the ability to actually have DRY and clean clothing is like hitting the jackpot for me!
Funny things that have happened so far: our first day in town we had to call the "emergency maintenance hotline" because we blew the fuse to our entire downstairs and could not find a circuit breaker that was tripped. Turns out we have a breaker box outside. That same day, someone in our house (who shall remain nameless) was messing with our alarm system and set it off. Of course, being day one, we had NO idea how to shut it off. It was SO loud and there were flashing lights everywhere! Local embassy guards were dispatched to our house and after about one hour of working with them, we were able to silence the alarms. Needless to say, I'm sure the whole neighborhood is aware that the new Americans have arrived! Lastly, Matt keeps loosing the cat outside!! He'll go outside and leave the door partially open and the cat slinks out. He comes in and a few minutes later we are both usually like "where's Chloe???" and then the mad dash to find her ensues. She's fascinated with the outside but there is a HUGE doberman next door that could easily hop the fence and gobble up our little old lady! We can't be having that. As I type this blog the backyard light came one, it's a motion sensor. And suddenly I see an orange tabby cat walking around our porch, looking in our windows. Perhaps these two have maid friends when no one is looking?
This past weekend we made our first trip up to Kosovo to Camp Bondsteel. It still sounds so funny to me. Anyway, Bondsteel is a Nato base about an hour away from us. They have a Taco Bell (another jackpot for us!) and a Burger King. It probably sounds gross to those of you stateside but when you have the opportunity to have a little TB in a foreign country, you just can't pass it up! They also have a little commissary and PX where we can get many of our necessary American fixin's. Skopje is what is called a "consumables" post. As in, you are allotted a certain amount of weight to specially ship in food since the local market leaves a little something to be desired. They have no cheddar cheese...for the love! So it's nice to know we can scoot up to Bondsteel sometimes to get our staples. There happened to be some big event at the base that day so our Ambassador was there and we met him in the Taco Bell line for the first time! A little embarrassing...it's weekend #1 for us and we are already at the TB! I started work yesterday and during his meeting with all of the different section chiefs he introduced me and shared with the entire group how we met over Tacos at TB this past weekend...nice 'eh?
We still do not have our shipment of items from Sofia, much to my dismay. I am THE WORST at packing for this type of thing so I ONLY brought flip flops, running shoes, and too pair of my most uncomfortable (but cutest) work heels. I have no jacket, only light sweaters. I never even considered that it may be October before our things arrive!! Hopefully the come quick!
No pictures yet because I forgot the cord to connect the camera to the computer, of course. But I plan to get out this weekend and begin photographing away!
Stay tuned for more updates and PICTURES!!