A Noon-Time Epiphany

Are you religious? Or as least Biblically learned? Then, do you know what a “epiphany” is? I had no clue until noon today. That’s when I found out it was a Macedonian Orthodox Christian celebration in memory of the day Jesus was baptized.

In Macedonian its called “Bogojavlenie Vodici” and there was an entire procession from the city’s main Orthodox Christian church to the Stone Bridge over the River Vardar where the cold, muddy waters were blessed by the priest for at least an hour.

Now, ordinarily, I would’ve passed such a service right by without a thought, and so would many other Skopje citizens. But this was no ordinary blessing. At the conclusion of the oration, the high priest tossed the blessing cross into the rushing river.

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Seriously Masticate a Macedonian Sandwich

Are you hungry? And I am not talking about a “I might like something” hungry. I am talking about a “I missed breakfast, crazy busy day, and its now 3pm and I am starving” kinda hunger.

If you’re stomach is in knots with emptiness, feeding upon itself to give you strength, then it might just be time for you to experience a Macedonian sandwich. And this ain’t no White Castle. This is serious man-wich!

First off, don’t dare think you’ll find a real Macedonian sandwich at some sit-down restaurant, or, heaven forbid, a fast food chain. No, you’ll only find this gastronomical delight in little hide-aways.

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Hold On! It’s a Skopje Taxi Ride

When I travel for business, I need to get to meetings fast. Meetings that can be across town or across a (small) country. Often, taxi drivers have a much different view of driving than you or I might.

Traffic rules are flexible, lanes are fluid, and cops are irrelevant in more places and ways than you can imagine. And I have the hardest time conveying both the speed and agility in which they drive and my paradoxically calm nature when zipping across a city on a Thai motorcycle taxi for example.

Here in Skopje, taxis are a little less insane in their lane jumping rush to earn my $1-2 per ride. But don’t think it’s a calm drive. Better yet, live a few moments of a taxi ride I took this week with this short backseat video of the experience.

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You can Always Pass on Prishtina

Back when I lived in Russia, Kosovo was big news. The Russians were really pissed off that NATO was bombing Serbia for its actions in the Serbian province of Kosovo. The Serbs were trying to drive out ethnic Albanians, usually Muslims, in favor of ethnic Serbs, usually Orthodox Christians.

This would make Kosovo, a historic center of unrest, more palatable to direct rule from Belgrade. It also parallels Russia’s ageless problems with Chechnya. There, ethnic Muslims have historically fought against Moscow’s Orthodox Christian rule.

NATO would have none of that though, and bombed Belgrade to convince Slobodan Milosevic that he should let Kosovo become and independent country. Only Americans would think this anything but a dangerous precedent. Europe is filled with concentrated minorities that all want independence, mainly on religious or ethnic lines. Kosovo is a perfect example.

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How Many Shoes Do you Travel With?

As you already know, I never check my bags. I even go to great lengths to outfox baggage Nazis. Because I refuse to check my luggage, I pack light, very light. In fact, I only pack a carry on bag, no matter the length of the trip.

My view is that after a week’s worth of clothes, which is essentially three full outfits that can be mixed and matched to make seven, you can always wash it all and start the next week fresh. So there is no need to pack more if you’re on a longer trip.

But I am not a woman, and more importantly, I am not my co-worker Sue.

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