More from the Macedonian Express
Yesterday, I had a great time in the WITS Creative Writing Camp in Stip, not that far from the Bulgarian border and near the ancient Roman city that we discussed in the last post. Every morning I walk about 30 minutes to the American Corners away from the city center, past the Museum of Stip and onto a beautiful road with purple thistles and wildflowers all up and down the road. When I arrived here yesterday, after my visit with wild hollyhocks (the English would be so jealous) and gladiolas, I started the Haiku House project with the younger children. Haiku are not often taught in the curriculum of Macedonia, and the students were largely unfamiliar with the concept, but they certainly caught on fast and did an amazing job of building their traditional Japanese houses with paper walls on all four sides with a Haiku on each wall. The older kids built no houses but did finish the afternoon with three Haiku and seemed to enjoy the project.
At 4:00 pm, I began my walk down the mountain to my hotel and on the way I stopped by the Museum of Stip where I was fortunate enough to meet someone who let me into the museum where, after paying my 120 dinari ($2.25 or so) I was allowed to see all the amazing archeological discoveries from the early Byzantine-Slav, Greek and Roman sites from near Stip. It was wonderful inside. I had already seen the Gandahara statues in the front yard two days before, so actually being in the museum was great. There were amazing gold Roman rings, bronze ring, Greek and Roman weaponry, pictures of massive archeological digs that I hope to visit if I have time on Saturday and most significantly a fabulous picture of a work on loan elsewhere, the Triple Hecate of Stip. This is one of a very few Triple Hecates in the area, maybe one of only two ever found in Macedonia, as the guard noted, and it is fabulous.
Hecate is the goddess of the underworld and a triple goddess is, as one can imagine, three times as powerful as some poor single goddess. Thus triple Nemesis is a powerful ally of justice and so forth. There are some elements of celebrating the cycle of life and death in agricultural cults and certainly the great plains of Macedonia have always been so important to this area as between these beautiful hills and mountains are the river valleys, including those of the great Vardar. I was impressed, truly impressed with the collection and saddened that I was the only one visiting in that hour. It was well worth the visit. Now, the third day of the Camp begins and children are coming into the library. More anon.
Merrilee Cunningham, Writers in the Schools