I am back in a land I love.
Sometimes we walk to our dreams, sometimes we run. I flew! No matter how we travel to find them – inside ourselves or in the world, I do believe the road we choose rises to meet us.
I am in Macedonia, land of Phillip of Macedonia the II, the father of Alexander the Great. The land that experienced 500 years of Ottoman-Turk domination that ended oh, so recently in the early 1900’s; a land where leisure is not a dirty world, were men and women hug openly and often, where “slow food“ is what everyone eats, slowly. Where a mountain is seen at every turn, where wine flows as easily as opinions, where strolling is an art form, hiking is the order of the day, and where living rooms are small and an appreciation of being outdoors is huge.
The wonderful and very proud people of this beautiful little country opened their arms to me when I served here as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer from 2006-2009. They then stretched their arms across a continent and an ocean to embrace my desire to return for work and play by opening their hearts and their homes to me as easily as we Americans open our car doors.
I am back!
Fort Myers, Florida to Atlanta, to Rome to Thessaloniki the second largest city in Greece with a very small and easily manageable airport. The city is only two and a half hours from Bitola, the second largest city in Macedonia. These very different towns each played important cultural and political roles in ancient world history. The Via Egnatia, the Roman road of commerce, passed through both towns accelerating their growth and their value to the region.
Now, political quarrels over national names keep them separated by more than miles, but doesn’t stop the adventurous traveler from enjoying both. Their borders are open and easily passed.
We crossed those borders into Macedonia on Friday, September 9. I am living here for two months, five other American wanderlusts are joining me for three to four weeks.
We are exploring Macedonia and ourselves. You see, I believe that all successful journeys – big or small, lead us not only to new places, but to new observations and awareness of living, life and ourselves.
Within hours of my arrival, an American-Macedonian friend reminded me to slow-down. So, I did.
I breathe slowly and deeply. Taking it all in, one drop at a time. Ecstatic at the life changes that have brought me to this moment and to being able to share it with my Macedonian friends, my fellow travelers, family and friends back home and you the reader. At this moment my connection is closest to you the reader, the curious, interested person taking time from your day to explore the world of another. Thank you for being here.
Here are a few of the sights, food and people we are enjoying.
Wine is everywhere.
The markets are brimming with peppers and people.
A closer look at their beautiful bounty.
Patrice Koerper is a certified life coach and motivational speaker. She has created the life she really wants by combining coaching and speaking with travel and projects in Macedonia. From 2006-2009, Patrice lived in Macedonia as one of only 425 volunteers over the age of 50 serving worldwide in the United States Peace Corps.
In 2010 she returned to Macedonia with American guests for a special cultural tourism program she developed, “Experience Macedonian: Enjoy Europe as it used to be”. The “Experience Macedonian” posts reflect their travels.
Patrice is returning to Macedonia in 2011 for six weeks – September through October. She is offering her unique 2 to 4 weeks cultural tours to a small group of friendly, flexible, adventurous travelers. In 2012 Patrice is planning life coaching retreats in Macedonia and Greece. For more information on these exciting travel and life-changing opportunities, please email her at email@example.com
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I am taking the journey from my perch on Horatio Street. Your earlier comment about ajvar being available at Trader Joe drew me to the store …. where I nearly lost courage with my one item and a very loooooong line….but again, in the proper spirit, I slowed down and engaged with my line mates….and they have a system that keeps that line a’movin!
Thanks for that tip and thank you for taking us along, my dear. Its a beautiful thing you lay before us.
You are a great writer – I really love how you captured the essence of Macedonia in this post.
See you soon,
Forgot to mention, the photos are courtesy of my fantastic fellow American travelers: Pat, Joe, Vange, Jill and Judy.