Yesterday morning I found presents for my trip away from Tetova waiting at my hotel. I can hardly say enough about how kind these follks were to me. I left Tetova and took a wonderful three hour ride passing close enough to Lake Ohrid (German archeologists have determined that it is one of the three oldest lakes in the world — over 50,000 years and that it has a small lake under it) and leaving the mountains and headed for Bitola with my driver. It was a good thing that Robert was a great driver because the road was narrow, two-way, and around mountains. After all, we are still in the Balkans.
I am now just 4 miles or so from Greece. Bitola is amazingly beautiful, and I am thrilled to be here. I am listening to Macedonia’s greatest rock star, Tose, who was killed in a car crash at the age of 26 this past spring. Much of Macedonia’s youth is mourning for him, and we are playing his music when they do their ‘life clock’ exercise, which is my invention, though so many of the other writing initiatives that they are doing come from Amy Lin, Leslie Gauna, and other WITS Writers. Thank you.
Today is the first day of the program with the children of Bitola, and we are ready. The staff here has made amazing preparations, and the American Corner looks beautiful. Juices are out. Tortes are in their little pink and green cups, cookies abound and there is cold water for the afternoon. The art images of their city are ready to be printed for the Ekphrasis exercise. The words for “found words” are up on the walls. Their portfolios are fluttering in the breeze of the air conditioning.
I have not seen Herculea yet, though I believe that Herculea was founded in honor of Hera, not Hercules. I will research more when I go there, and you blog readers will be the second to know. It is a beautiful sunny day in Bitola. The buildings are classical architecture and so grand. The children will be here in fifteen minutes so I must go.
From the Macedonian Express, this is Merrilee Cunningham in beautiful downtown Bitola on the border between Greece and Southern Macedonia