13th July, Saturday
We arrived in Skopje and felt like arriving home. We’d been looking forward for this day since autumn of 2017. As you may not know, when we did our 18-day Honeymoon Trip last 2017 through the Balkans, Mae was denied entry due to visa issues. It was something that we looked forward to.
Why we like to try again this time?
Well, North Macedonia (previously Macedonia) has always a special place in our heart. Firstly, a very dear sister-friend of Mae is already residing here together with her Macedonian husband. Also, on February this year, she had begotten a beautiful daughter, Francheska. Lastly, the idea of that 2017 Honeymoon Motorcycle Trip was birthed in Ohrid, at our apartment by the lake during our 2-week vacation last 2015.
Thankfully this time, Mae already has a German Residence Permit and entering North Macedonia was never an issue. Our faces beamed with joy as we crossed through the border until we reached the center of Skopje.
“Welcome to North Macedonia,” shouted Mae excitedly.
Here we are now, enjoying the hospitality of our friends as well as their friends. We still don’t know how much time we stay here, but for now – we were at home.
One last hurdle is still to overcome though. Geraldine had given us the apartment name, but not the flat number. There are many entrances to the apartment, but at the doorbell only numbers are written. It seemed unusual, as we find this in other countries also, esp. in Turkey. We didn’t have local Simcards yet, our Prepaid Simcards from Germany are either empty or not working here. We were exhausted. No cafes with Wi-Fi nearby. We were dehydrated, hungry, tired, and Mae had to answer the call of nature.. Kay asked favor from the Supermarket’s personnel if they could call our friend’s local number, oddly enough it wasn’t working or not possible.
After some time, we were inside the parking area of the apartment complex. We met another tenant who could speak English. As we described our problem, he immediately dialed the number we gave him. Few minutes later, Geraldine, with Cheska on her arms, greeted us. Mae and Kay then held confused Baby Cheska on their arms.
Speaking of food – before we left Pristina this morning, Mae requested Geraldine to cook philippino “Chicken/Pork Adobo”. What a joy, we can hardly await our dinner. Geraldine was the chef at our wedding in Germany. We looked forward for her culinary specialties in the next weeks.
It took some time until Kay offloaded all our luggage to the 5th floor. Good for him, there was an elevator. Properly locked, the GS could stay at the parking lot for this afternoon. But generally, that is too dangerous. There are many people, walking through the backyard and one of them are Romani people. They make a living with what they find on the streets, in the garbage bins and from decluttering. Daily we witness now how this unfortunate tribe without rights, mostly cut off from social care, has to survive. Many are addicted to alcohol and drugs or sniffing glue. Many live from hand to mouth, begging on the street for the necessary. Others find useful things in the garbage of the wealthy, selling it on the black market. But one girl with better perspective we get to know, her name is Atigja. She can already speak a little English, is friendly approaching strangers, and hard working in school. Her impression to us is decent and cheerful. We hope all the best for her!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to judge. The structure of the society seems to be a reflection of many heavily troubled decades. It is as it is. We are strangers here. We can only watch. For the reading public, I want to state what we experience in North Macedonia, also what we are being told by the people of North Macedonia. We hope for a better life for them, equally spread wealth and education – for all of them.
Since we are here for quite some time, we have to adapt to the current situation. It would be only our fault, if we would just leave the motorcycle out there, it doesn’t belong to here, and it is too exotic. I could not blame anyone, taking off a part or stealing it, to help the family to survive. We have to take care and put it in a secure shelter. Geraldine’s husband Nikola has already arranged for that. He has the same sentiments of putting the bike in a secured place, not visible to the walking public. As he arrives later from work, we would move the GS to the house of a good friend and colleague nearby. The bike will be securely parked in his garage, his car in front, a bulldog in the garden, and a fence of steel around. This will be perfectly fine.
You may wonder about our paranoia (or perhaps Kay’s overthinking), reading this. We are travelling only with this motorcycle. Together with our luggage it is our means of transport, home, kitchen, almost all we own, essence of savings to be used for traveling many month more. If something vanishes, there are immediate and remarkable consequences for us: Our home has two wheels (credits: Tom P.)
See you on the road,H1