Stepping back



Going to the rural village of Dihovo just outside of Bitola, Macedonia is like stepping back in time.

I think stepping back, taking time to absorb life and see what rises and what really matters is a very good thing. In 2005, stepping back from my life led me to one of the best decisions of my life – to join the Peace Corps. In 2006, I found myself in Macedonia and soon after in Dihovo.

Dihovo is a place where the word quiet is a way of life and soft-edged stone homes hug the winding narrow roads. Natural time is the only clock that really matters here – the light of the sun and the tilt of the earth’s axis predict activities.  If you rise early you may meet a shepherd and his flock heading up the mountains, if you stay-up late you will experience the deep, rich sounds of silence. If you visit in late spring, lettuce will be ready to pick and flowers will be blooming everywhere. If you wait until fall, someone is sure to be stirring ajvar or fermenting grapes. 

Dihovo is nestled in the foothills of the Baba Mountains, where each step you take, every move you make is an uplifting experience – all puns intended. 

Under the protection of the mountains, the summers are cooler; the winters a bit warmer. Fall weather adds vibrant color to the surrounding hills, and on a snowy day nature’s gifts seem to almost too much to bear. Like an over-eager guest, who brings more than wine or chocolates to dinner, nature has presented Dihovo with an abundance of goodies. 

I first visited this tiny enclave at the invitation of one of its summer and weekend residents in 2007, my love of the village and its people quickly grew and has expanded over the years. Dihovo is alway on my mind, often on my lips, and can easily be found on my virtual fingertips as I find new ways and places to write about its peaceful wonders.

This weekend I was in Dihovo when Macedonia’s summer-like weather abruptly ended as rain fell and the temperature dramatically dropped. This brisk change served to enhance the village’s beauty as the dark sleek colors of stones emerged and the aroma of wood burning stoves, roasting red-peppers, and slow-cooking meat dishes filled the air. Walking the streets with my collar-up and umbrella opened, here is a bit of what I was lucky enough to enjoy this weekend in Dihovo. There is an emphasis on the chimneys that warmed the homes and my heart:




As always, lots more photos, but will save for another day. If you want to visit Dihovo, I suggest Villa Dihovo or Villa Patrice (named for me, not mine). Both are also listed in the Macedonia section of the Lonely Planet Guide Western Balkans (pg 315) and on Facebook. You can “Like” us all there! Also there are lots of great videos for Macedonian foods on You Tube. 

If you would like to create the life you really want, try stepping back by giving yourself a bit more free and alone time to see what happens. Turn off the TV, put down your book, and stop trying to do everything at once. Stretch a bit or take a walk and try not to think too much. It might feel odd at first, but if you keep trying you may find there is something entirely new or something you have wanted but have ignored, waiting for you. Stepping back can help you discover your dreams.

Stepping back is leading me on a new adventure; next Monday I leave Macedonia for the Republic of Georgia for a 3 month assignment with Response Corps Peace Corps. I’ll tell you more about it when I’m settled in there. Until then, I will be spending time with all my wonderful friends in Macedonia.

Macedonian Dream Weavers II

What happens when a man in a tiny rural Macedonian village wants to preserve his country’s past? 

Well, in the beginning everyone tells him he is crazy, asks what he wants with that “old junk”, or tells him no one will ever come to see it.

Lucky for us, Boris Tanevski ignored the naysayers and his passion and persistence prevailed.  Today Muzej Filip (Museum Phillip) is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

According to his third oldest daughter, Katrina, a college freshman, Boris began collecting bits and pieces of Macedonia’s history about twenty years ago. Somewhere along the line he added larger items like cars and motorcycles. (Finding cars as old as his in Macedonia that run and are in such great condition is unbelievable.)

Over time, Boris turned even his skeptical wife, three daughters and son into believers. (Boris doesn’t speak English, and my Macedonian is not good enough for all the questions I was asking so, Katrina kindly acted as our interpreter.) When his collection outgrew his home and garage, he expanded his plans and built a museum on his property to artfully display his unique collection! 

Because Boris did not give up on himself or his dreams, foreigners can slip into a world unknown to many of them for only 100MKD (about $2.20) and Macedonians can learn more about their past for 50MKD. 

After spending time in the museum, guests can relax in the Tanevski’s beautifully landscaped and traditionally decorated yard surrounded by more rural treasures while enjoying complimentary home-grown seasonal fruit with a glass of homemade rakjia or wine or a cup of  Turkish coffee.

Boris and his family offer the perfect combination of history and hospitality. When we called to check times, Boris decided that since he was going to be in Bitola, he would simply pick us up and drive us to their village of Krklino. How’s that for service? (They also called a cab for us when we reluctantly had to head back to town, at a cost of less than $3.50 for three of us.)

The total experience – priceless. 

A testament to Boris Tanevski!


The rest of it.

Antique Turkish Indoor Fire Pit. He had a number of these copper cookers.

Love this. Check out the keys.


So beautiful.

Boris and his family have carefully combined the artifacts into various settings, including a Turkish, a Jewish and ancient village rooms.


The Village Room


Tin and brass vessels in all shapes and sizes.


Katrina, and her Grandmother's traditional clothes.

 Check out the Muzej Filip web site, the intro is in English and offers more photos.

 And, don’t forget to dream big!


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

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