Biljana accompanies me downtown to the post office to post my parcel (was so useful to have her translate) and then to the market to a wool shop – knitting needles! I bought some cheap acrylic/wool to knit a Macedonian square (a blue lake). Biljana didn’t want coffee or anything to eat – she said she had plenty back at workshop. I finally leave Dragan and Biljana… reluctantly at around 3pm. And a wonderful morning it has been. In retrospect, perhaps I should have donated something more to the coffers than just buying Steve’s gift? (but I’m so mean I have to make a conscious effort to open the purse): I will definitely keep in touch.
It was a pleasant cycle out of Ohrid and into the hills, until the flies found me – they were small irritating types that flew in a cloud around the bike and me (the sort one sees around cow pats!)– their mission in life appeared to be to fly into my eyes or be inhaled. Wearing sunglasses helped, but I felt like a molecule with atoms zooming around me. I stopped where the road crossed over a small stream – to see what a man was doing with old carpets in the water– I thought at first he was washing them, but I think he was creating a small dam – maybe for fishing. Anyway, that’s where the flies found me.
Shortly after acquiring my personal cloud of flies, I saw a sign to a restaurant/hotel/art/eco community. There was also a pretty church perched on a mound overlooking a village. Intrigued I turned off the main road (and I was hungry too). The church was locked – but peering through the window, I could see one room with what looked like an enormous block of stone – the font? And in the other room there were chairs, a coffee table and an ashtray – not what I’d expect but there you go. I took some pictures of some of the older buildings in the village as the construction looked similar to the green oak building Sean the neighbour built.
I carried on cycling to the ‘hotel’ along a dirt track, following the signs. A couple of stray dogs (though most people leave their dogs run wild it seems, so it’s not clear which dogs are stray and which aren’t) ran after me and I noticed they had their own clouds of flies too! When I got to the hotel – the gates were closed, it looked deserted and there was a sign up saying ‘private property’ – altogether uninviting. I retraced my steps to the main road accompanied by my black cloud.
I finally hit a long and lovely downhill with enough breeze to shift the damn things. It was getting dark when the road evened out and I came to a long road works – there were traffic lights as the road was single lane, but cars were getting impatient with the really long queue and were trying to take short cuts – creating more havoc and longer waits. A police car with a couple of officers were trying to sort the mess out. One car had entered the closed lane and couldn’t get out, as there was a very high kerb which it couldn’t get over so was having to reverse at least a quarter of a mile! I sailed past the lot on my trusty steed.
I reached a fairly large town where there was a supermarket open, so I popped in with my trusty ‘point it’ book and pointed at the camping picture. There were three women present and they had an animated discussion before shrugging. I went on up the road and paused at a junction. A young man approached and said “Problem?” – he could speak English! I explained I was looking for somewhere to camp. “No problem – come back to my place” Kosta (for that was who he was) said – and so I met his parents, Byba and Zhivko, his grandmother (who has Alzheimers) and his girlfriend Marija. Kosta’s sister is married with two children and I got shown a picture of the little girl and boy by proud grandfather. They are a well to do family with a roomy home. Byba is a hairdresser with her own shop, Zhivko is an electrical engineer (who was off to Skopje on Wednesday to assist after the flooding and landslides). Kosta himself is a medical student in his second year.
I was offered a meal then told I could sleep inside. I insisted I didn’t want to put anyone out (with memories of double beds!) and was very happy to camp on the lawn (and had food too). No, they had plenty of room and I could sleep in the living room on the sofa. Kosta even made sure I had internet access (thoughtful lad that he was!). He told me that he was a keen cyclist himself and, when he heard that I wanted to visit the ‘Ethno Museum’ in the morning, said that he would accompany me and show me the way – ignoring my protestations that I’m too slow.
When I spoke of my interest in all things textile, Byba revealed her crochet and knitting – she demonstrated continental style knitting and was interested in my English ‘throwing’ style. I took some pics of her finished items. Her grandmother could spin yarn, it transpired.
Lovely, lovely family. (I think 'lovely' must be my 'word of the week'. Luverly).