Saturday, March 07, 2009

alternative transportation

in the interest of saving money and getting more exercise, I started
walking to work last week. it takes about 80 minutes one way, but
since time is something I have plenty of here, it works out well. and
after 10 trips back and forth I have to admit, it's about one of my
favorite things to do here. I've been busy downloading news podcasts
to make the time pass quicker, so I'm learning all kinds of
interesting information and keeping really well informed, an aspect of
life I've found increasingly valueable and important. basically, by
the time I arrive home in July I'll be a genius- so be forewarned that
I will be even more insufferable than usual. (I'll also, of course, be
unemployed so that should keep some of my smugginess at bay).

it's also given me a great chance to really feel and experience
everyday Macedonian life, much more so than when I slowly clunked
through the same streets on that ridiculous green pony. though Skopje
includes half of Macedonians population and is a fairly diverse
(relatively speaking, we're still in the Balkans afterall) city, it
doesn't have a busy, metropolitan feel at all. people move slowly, no
one ventures out on Sundays and very few people are out past sunset.
people tend to be loud at the rare moments when they communicate but
for the most part, the streets remain quiet. arriving in shutka at the
end of the walk provides a stark contrast, with it's crowded streets
full of people yelling and talking and blaring music from a variety of
boom boxes and car stereos.

the walk has also provides me with some more humorous moments. pony-
drawn wagon-like structures are pretty popular in shutka for what
appears to be a continual relocation of stacks of wood. these
horseshoes are, from my limited understanding of all things
equestrine, are apparently not designed for travel upon pavement.
therefore, when a Roma man leads his buggy down the hill at the
enterance to shutka, the trip essentially consists of the horse
sliding from side to side in a valient but entirely unsuccessful
attempt to control the free-falling vehicle. I also get a better look
at what people are wearing and I'll mention my two favorite finds
here: a faux-fur trimmed tank top and a yellow triangle bikini top,
both items fashionably worn over black long underwear. one thing is
for certain, I have not once been tempted to purchase clothing here, a
fact my wallet and suitecase are both very happy with.

I've also noticed that an unusually high percentage of people walk
with some type of limp here (I was one of them until I preformed
surgery on the huge blister that had formed on my foot) which is
indicitative both of the rather harsh way of life here and an
apparently weak health care system. it should be said that the
majority of my walk is through poorer parts of town, so this affects
the type of people and lifestyle that I am privy to on a daily basis.

but most importantly, the walk allows for increased comsumption of
unhealthy foods. and for that fact, you know I'll do just about


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