Night One

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Flag of Macedonia  , Stip,
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stip: Wow! A big red glowing cross on top of a hill. Am I in South Korea? I hardly get my second bag out of the bus when two big men, maintenance guys from the university, spot me and come over. Instantly my bags are swept out from underneath me, formal greetings are made, and I follow them to the van. I was baggage free for the first time in 18 hours. Hbovo. Time to test out the language and see what I know (or how much Bulgarian vocab I can get away with here). But as I speak and get answers back in English I know I am way too ambitious for 1AM. Okay, tomorrow then. And thank God for that because how was I to know when we stop off at a gas station on the way that we aren't there to get snacks for the road, but have arrived at the hotel? 

All I see are gas pumps and the typical convenient store with rest stop commodities, not a place to sleep. Okay, tomorrow then, everything can wait until tomorrow and I follow them around to the back of the convenient store where there's an entrance. I trust the juxtaposition of petrol and rooms for rent in the Balkans, it's not like you would expect in the States, you just can't make the same associations. Rest stop, truckers, you know where I'm going with this. Up two short flights of steps and the hallways light up with motion lights. I can see the nice, clean tiled floors and the door opens up to a comfortable room. Cozy. My bags fit, one on the spare twin mattress and the other in the entrance. So they fit like sardines, I can't see them unpacked. So I know I am a spoiled Westerner, and this can all wait until tomorrow, and I am really grateful to have a place to sleep, but is this my room for 9 months? I don't ask. It's okay. Ootre. Tomorrow. But as they are saying good night and leaving me with the key, one can't help but ask, "For how long will you be here"? 9 months. "Oh." I can tell he's not so sure himself. Well, in any case I am still bubbling with joy and excitement and I am envisioning the snow coming down outside my window in my own little room and I think how this is just enough space to read and write and feel tucked away. It's nothing to complain about. So I wrap myself up into a nice warm ball and sleep.

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