Friday June 17th, 2011

Friday June 17th, 2011

I woke up today a little tired but excited for another day on the job, even though today was only scheduled to be a half day of work. We walked over to the site just before 9:00 and the Beaver Brick Squad was back in affect. We relocated a few palates of bricks from the front yard to the second story to be used for the walls, and a bunch of cement as well.

The bricks had been moved, the cement had been utilized, and we were just sitting around for about 30 minutes waiting for the next task to by assigned, I was feeling pretty good so instead of sitting down, I decided to get a little work out in. The red bricks we have been working with weigh about 20 pounds each, so I used these to do a few circuits involving various numbers of bricks. Bicep curls, tricep dips, shoulder shrugs, arm raises, over head press, squats, isometric holds, plus regular and diamond push ups in the Macedonian sun in 30 minutes with no rest gave me a quick intense work out.

After that we were presented with the task of moving these iron and metal scaffolding poles up the second story from behind the house. Now being that we are all different athletes with different abilities and skills, sometimes we can use our different attributes on the worksite as well. Dom and myself were presented with an opportunity to use our height and reach to save a lot of time and energy for everyone. Mike and Krista would hand us these poles, with the sliding side up so we would not get a black eye, and we would lift the poles up from the ground floor to our peers up on the second floor. The iron poles were much heavier than the other poles, which made this even more fun because we would randomly be tested and would have to use all our strength to get these 5 foot poles up high enough for our peers to get them. It had the potential to be a tedious and tiring job, but we knocked it out and moved about 100 poles in about 15 minutes!

We had lunch at 12:30, we placed orders about 2 hours before, so when the delivery man pulled up with hamburgers, chicken breast sandwiches, and double hot dogs we were relieved to get some food after a short but steady morning. Lunch was good and much needed; I left a little before everyone else so I could get some laundry done at the hotel before we left for the rest of the day. I used the sink in my bathroom and a small pack of Tide I brought from home to hand wash a few items. After laying them out to dry on the balcony, Joe came in and informed me were leaving within 45 minutes for the rest of the day. We were headed to the Kokino Observatory, which according to NASA is the 4th most accurate observatory in the world. It was an intense 80% uphill hike, but well worth it. We got some great pictures and learned a lot about this ancient and historical site, it was one of the most unique and unexpected experiences I and we have had so far over here. There was a circular area with stone seating that was used to tell when the three solstices of the year would occur. For example, the summer solstice was recognized when the sun arose in the morning perfectly though this little niche in the rock directly in front of the middle chair. When it rose in this position the middle chair was illuminated by sunlight while the others remained in shade until the sun was up high in the sky. The person illuminated was slowly shined upon from head to toe. Here is a link to check out more about it:

The ride from the observatory to dinner was about 20 minutes, which I used to catch up on a few Zzz’s, like I do on most of the longer bus rides. We had dinner at a place called Etho Ceno, a traditional Macedonian restaurant with a beautiful patio overlooking a picturesque Macedonian valley.  This was the first time we were able to place our own orders, which I took full advantage of; a Greek salad (amazing flavor, hard boiled egg atop tomatoes, blocks of feta cheese, cucumbers and olives), breaded cheese (toasted cheese with sesame seeds covering it, phenomenal), and a meat dish. The meat dish I ordered was smoked pork ribs, however when my plate was placed in front of me, there was one giant rib that looked, smelled, and tasted exactly like bacon! It was served with a small handful of French fries. I know I said before I would always order chicken, but the idea of smoked pork ribs was too good to pass up, however Jen ordered the chicken kabobs, and due to the amount of bread and appetizers before she was unable to finish her tasty kabobs… so I gladly stepped in and devoured them J- and like I expected they were incredible and only cost about $2!!

One funny thing that happened at dinner was there was a TV near us that the waiter randomly turned on about halfway into our meal, and this commercial came on for Orbit gum. There were little cartoons of pizza, onions, and other things that can give you some funky breath. Well, one of the things was a doughnut, and when the doughnut saw the orbit gum he ran to the middle of the table, grabbed a toothpick, and shoved it into the inside of his doughnut hole! A suicidal doughnut in a Orbit gum commercial in Macedonia… never thought I would see that hahaha. It was a little messed up but at the same time funny because who would think to put that in a commercial, let along actually create that idea.

Anyways, after dinner we drove back to the hotel and walked over to the school where Maria, the 10-year-old girl who lives in the house we are helping with, had a dance recital that we were specially invited to attend. It was more like a dance practice that most young Macedonian children learn as part of their tradition and culture. There were several types of dances, which I learned were mostly performed at weddings and other celebrations.  While we were there, Dominic and I were slowly attracting more and more kids around us, so we turned around and started talking to them. Fortunately there was one who went to private school, Angelina, who spoke fluent English! She became our translator as we talked with some of the kids; Ivan, Sasha, Milan, one kid wearing a spider man shirt was renamed “spider boy”, and another had the nickname rabbit. We asked him why that was his nickname, and one of his friends chirped in and said “ look at him!”, at which point I realized he did faintly resemble a rabbit! We then left the newly built athletic facility for eh dirt courts just outside to play a little hoops with the local kids. They didn’t really know about checking the ball or taking it out after a made basket, so it became a free for all of sorts. Regardless the lack of rules or general agreement on what we were doing/playing, it was a fun time. The kids wanted to take some pictures with us, then after asked if I had a Facebook!? That was the last thing I expected to hear coming from the kids out here in this smaller town in Macedonia… but sure enough they do because I now have about 15 new Macedonian friends!

We got back to the hotel around 9 or so I think, the weather was a perfect warm temperature with a slight breeze, so we all got a some drinks and snacks and hung out together in one of the covered table/ gazebo type areas outside the hotel. We stayed there for a while laughing and telling stories… even a little Karaoke to my iTunes which I had playing over some small speakers. It was a great bonding time for all us. I really enjoyed just being able to relax with everyone and build the strength of our little cohort of people. This really is a one of a kind group of people with various backgrounds and personalities, but we when we are all together, we just fit and can get along and ever have a dull moment- a sincere group of people who want to be here and enjoying every high and low of this trip. Absolutely wonderful.


#NP Dirt Road Anthem Remix- Jason Aldean ft Ludacris