Saturday, July 29, 2006

Only by going

On the Execution Rock
Originally uploaded by amsterboy.
"Do you think the Internet makes the world smaller", a friend of mine asked while we were returning to our apartment after a night in Ohrid, Macedonia. "Yes - and then strongly NO", I answered. My two weeks of holidays in Bulgaria and Macedonia can be used as evidence.

I could glance through dozens and dozens of sites about the wonders of Macedonia and about the catastrophic earthquake of Skopje in 1963 but that would never live up to the experience of hearing from my friend's parents how their house shook for over twenty seconds and how they slept weeks in a tent. In the same way I had read several articles about the changing labour market of Bulgaria but it could never compete with our taxi driver in Sofia who turned to us and said:"I am 53 years old. I am an intelligent taxi driver with three degrees. There is nothing for me in this country."

It is really difficult to define what I thought of these two countries before travelling. I could maybe mention terms such as conflict, war, EU accession and yoghurt. After meeting people and travelling across the countries I would say untouched nature, fresh salads and garlic, glorious history, religion and kind and humble people. I am not claiming that I know what these countries are about but I know much more about the challenges of Macedonia to create a common identity among the Macedonians and the Albanians. I was also amazed by the way urbanisation can be seen in these countries: the untouched mountains and forests and the grannies of the small villages collides with the chaotic traffic and with the lack of urban planning vision of the capitals. I guess my two souvernirs can be used well as evidence of my way of seeing these countries: two photographs of smiling grannies and a bottle of mastika (Macedonian ouzo) donated by my friend's father.

I want to go back. At the same time I realise clearly how fortunate I am to be able to travel freely and visit friends all across the continent.

Clever quote of the day (which is in no way connected but I still need to share it):

"Another retrogressive aspect of the modesty movement is its disconcerting message that women are responsible for men's behaviour. The notion of dressing modestly comes at least partly from the idea that men can't control themselves; by telling women that they have to dress a certain way to quell men's desires, modesty advocates are sending a clear message that the onus is on us to control men's sexual - and possibly violent - actions."
- Jessica Valenti:"Chastity is chic" in todays Guardian.

Could not agree with her more.

1 comment:

Matti said...

I want to go back. At the same time I realise clearly how fortunate I am to be able to travel freely and visit friends all across the continent.

How true. Having been to Skopje (and I've _never_ met so friendly people) it was a shock to hear that one girl I talked with couln't get a visa to Norway for her orchestra trip. Norway, of all the countries. It was hard to imagine, 'cause between Nordic countries there hasn't been any kind of border formalities as long as I know.