As you well know our lifestyle is a little unconventional, we never really know where we will be next, who we might meet and when our next real shower might take place.
This story is about our last stop in Macedonia, Kumanovo. I’m not going to lie, 99% of the town looks like a dump, forgotten over time; poor road conditions, extremely low hanging electrical wires (very scary when driving a 3 meter high vehicle), garbage everywhere, rundown vandalized buildings, the works…PERFECT! Matt and I are all over it! The first thing in order when arriving in a new city is finding the perfect parking spot, I dream of the days when we will have a tiny scooter “parkable” just about anywhere. Next step is checking for free Wi-Fi waves and/or finding a generous person to host our electrical needs. Our requirements usually consist of recharging our deep cycle battery, keeping the fridge cool and maybe a small space heater on chilly nights. This time we tried a little corner store deep in suburban Kumanovo but unfortunately the language barrier was insurmountable which lead Matt to panic and accost everyone who walked by. “DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?” he asked. Luckily within minutes a young man exclaimed “Of course I do!”, thank the heavens, lets get this going. With the help of our new translator we concocted a deal with the store owners where we could park safely on their property and receive electricity for the night.
Matt befriended the translator and invited the young man for drinks later that evening. Alexander and his wonderful curly haired beauty arrives at 9 pm prompt with gifts of homemade spicy roasted red pepper and eggplant dip, homemade pickled vegetables and homemade moonshine. OPA!
The conversation flows as does the booze. Differences between Canadian rule and Macedonian government are vast yet we all seem to have the same forward thinking agenda; invest in education, clean up our surroundings, respect one an other and pay no attention to religion and self pitters.
Night falls and we hit the road, first stop we try out an apartment/mall/bar situation. A few minutes in and we’re informed that there are too many young people and we must proceed to the next bar (keep in mind that our hosts are about 20 years old, 10 and 20 years our junior…I promise we’re not narcs!).
Bar number two is a tame biker bar with a live band playing “famous” Serbian rock anthems. Matt and I dance like two idiots without a care in the world, pretending to know all the words to the songs. Thankfully Alexander, our host, and his friends enjoy our humor and we laugh and toast every five seconds.
Bar numero 3 is just down the street and features a wonderful and animated band covering great American classic hits from the 60’s and 70’s sung with fantastically thick Bulgarian accents, emphasizing syllables in all the most “original” spots.
Our fourth move takes us back to the first bar (this time with much more mature 20 year olds) to meet the rest of the crew. A future travel adviser, an actor, an aspiring plastic surgeon, a tall handsome student, an engineer, etc., …and Tom Cruse…well kind of! Our new Macedonian friends are incredible, they are young, smart, intelligent, insightful, funny, adorable, sweet, helpful, inviting…AHHHHH I love them so much!!!!
Four am rolled around and it was time for Matt and I to hit the hay. A crew of our friends escorted back to the van and bit us fairwell. (I would like to take a little pause here to emphasize and make you understand how insanely fantastic-5000 everyone we’ve met tonight is, no downers, losers, no dimwits, solemnly fantastic, inspirational people). We woke up a few hours later with full hearts and happy smiles on our faces. Macedonia, Kumanovo, Alexander and your “do you speak English””of course”, that night meant the world to us and I wish a lifetime of friendship between us! Nazdrowie!