Thursday June 23rd, 2011

Thursday June 23rd, 2011

10:30 am alarm going off, and I’m struggling to find my phone to push snooze. After what seemed like an eternity, I found it on the floor next to the empty water bottle and the box of hazelnut wafers I ate the night before. I eventually gathered enough energy to get up and get ready for the day; teeth brushed, clothes on, bag packed… I’m ready. Today we were not heading to the worksite; instead we were going to spend the day in Skopje. With a historical tour and some free time it was looking to be a good day.

We began at the Skopje Fortress up the crest of a hill looking over the city and the Vardar River. The first fortress here was built back around the 6th century BC ad since then has been improved upon and some parts rebuilt, but some original pieces remain. This was another ancient site we were able to learn about during our time here, and like Stobi Archeological site, it was incredible to be in the presence of something so unique and old that has stood the test of time. Unfortunately there was some political and religious fighting along with some destruction of the fortress recently and it was closed so we were only able to walk around it. Apparently even though it is an ancient building there are still harsh feelings about who built what and when…

For more info you can check out the link below:

From the fortress we walked though the alleys and coble stone streets of Old Town Skopje, filled with small shops, snack stands, and tourist stands, it reminded me of walking through one of the themed villages in Disneyland. The whole place had a certain character and look. There were “gypsy” children here and there begging for money, our tour guide held a certain feeling of disgust… for them. She was very adamant about not giving them any attention and making sure we had nothing in our pockets and we were aware of our backpacks. This was a little weird because just a day before we were immersed in a “gypsy” community meeting families and being welcomed and now we were being told to watch out possessions as if Aladdin and the 40 thieves were going to pounce on us as we walked around the corner! I thought this was similar to a certain minority back home and the ethnic majority’s general perception of them. They are looked down upon and not accepted by a large part of society and not even welcome in some areas of town.

We learned a lot about Old Town Skopje and even got a tour of one of the oldest churches in Macedonia, some of the woodwork within the church was hand carved from the inside out; it was some of the most intricate woodworking I had ever seen! Very impressive and expensive today according to our tour guide, so much so the British tried to buy the whole church recently because of its rarity and value… of course the Macedonians declined. We left the church and finished our tour at a coffee shop on the edge of old town. We got some iced coffees, Skopskop and water while enjoying the Air Conditioned seating area. We then headed to meet up with Roberto and our team leader Dave, Roberto had to go get a tetanus shot from the glass that cut him during the backboard incident. After we regrouped we walked over the river on a walkway with several tourist-oriented tables selling small toys, hats and sunglasses. I got a pair of sunglasses and with some bartering skills I managed to talk to seller down 300 dinar (about $8 half of what he was asking!).  The walkway ends at a giant statue of Alexander the Great on a horse, a focal point for the city and malls around. We got lunch at a restaurant with menus serves in leather bound books and as long as a chapter out of a Harry Potter book! Haha ok maybe a little exaggeration but it was a large menu with 3 pages of different kinds of pasta and 2 pages of different kinds of pizza. I ended getting a pasta dish with cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil, and a pepperoni, basil, pizza  (there was something else on it but I cant remember). This is one of my favorite restaurants so far on the trip, everything was very good and cheap too! This restaurant was playing some smooth jazz, but it was not regular American smooth jazz oh no- it was a playlist of smooth jam remixes to the songs like YMCA… yes a smooth jazz remix of YMCA- only in Macedonia!!

The 3 hours following lunch were given to us as free time to explore the city and shops around the area. I started off with everyone and we bought matching red Macedonia hats, and then went off with Matt to look for a shirt he wanted to get.  Near the stand where we bought the hats, was a monument to Mother Theresa and four, gold,  L shapes in the pavement signifying where the house Mother Theresa was born in; talk about a historical spot!

We ended up meeting back up with everyone about 2 hours later. Seeing all the shops with different styles and set ups was cool, it was in a way similar to back home but at the same time different; even the manikins here look different… in a creepy “Bride of Chucky” way. Once we al met up we walked 15 minutes into town to a place called the American Corner. The AC is a place within the City library, that  is ran by the US embassy in partnership with the library, it’s a place providing American culture and literature to anyone who is interested. You ca become a member cost free and come use and check out any of the materials they offer. We were there for about 30-45 minutes talking with the employees and some of the members ( ages 16-22) who came and meet us. It was an opportunity to share culture with one another and at the same time let us learn a little about how our country is viewed and answer questions about America to these young adults. These people spend their time reading and watching any American material they can get their hands on, it was pretty cool to be on the outside looking in at America… sometimes a new perspective can really open your eyes to what’s always been in front of you.

After almost leaving Joe at the American Corner, we headed an hour drive back to the hotel. We were supposed to have dinner in Skopje, but after a long, hot day of walking around the city, we were already to go back to the hotel and relax. Our new dinner plans once we got back involved, calling a local pizzeria and explaining what delivery pizza was, ordering 10 pizzas, and paying for a taxi for an employee to bring us the pizza. We all ate taxi delivered pizza, salad from the hotel, and other snacks from the local market outside the hotel in the warm summer night; one of our last here in Macedonia. It has gone by so fast!!

Only a few more blogs… wow


#NP  Never Know- Jack Johnson

Wednesday June 22nd, 2011

Wednesday June 22nd, 2011

Got up today after a good night sleep, had breakfast and was on the worksite by 9:30. Our first task was to finish the trench we had started a couple days ago. We needed to make the edges straight down and the bottom a little deeper. We took turns with the pick axes and “shovels” and slowly but surely got the trench to the needed dimensions. Defeating the trench was a moment of personal victory for me; It had been a thorn in my side and always in my mind since we started; “Man one of these days we got to finish that trench”. Our next task included mixing and moving more mortar, a task that we had become all too accustomed too. We worked until about 11:30 before we had an authentic pork lunch. They killed a pig this morning and had been prepping it every since, and let me tell you- it was fresh, some pieces still had a little hair on it:( But there were also the infamous chicken breast sandwiches, which served as a safe zone for a lot of people. After lunch we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and packed for a day trip to the largest Roma community in the world, and the 2nd largest open-air market in Macedonia. We walked through the community; it appeared to be in a state very close to a third world country. (Roma is the politically correct term for the people referred to as “gypsies” by others).  Habitat for Humanity is present in the Roma community and has helped several families improve their living situations. We were to visit 2 families and visit with them inside their homes, and like this trip seeing these families and how they live was an eye opening experience. You can read and watch all about a different culture, event, or anything really, but once you experience it yourself and see and feel it in real life… you can never really know what it is like. Some kids were following us barefoot down the streets and wanted to pose for pictures for our cameras, all of the kids though would come up to us and mutter in I don’t know what language, but I can only assume it was begging for money. There are Roma children in every community we have been too who do this. Some look like they have not eaten or showered in days, ragged clothes with dirt covering them… its really sad.

After exploring the Roma village, we headed into downtown Skopje for an American meal… McDonalds!! We have been seeing signs for this amazing American invention for the last week, but this was our first chance to dig our teeth into a tasty all beef burger. We all placed our orders and the total dollar amount sent a shockwave through the computer system and froze the entire system for about 3 minutes. Our total was a little over 4,000 dinar… that’s over $100!!! It took 6 trays of food to bring all the food to the table! This is one meal I will not repeat everything I ate our of sheer embarrassment haha. But it was much enjoyed by everyone:)

After our fast food binge, we walked around the area surrounding the Golden Arches, an area filled with shops, tourist stands, and a 4-story mall. We ended up splitting into a few small groups based upon the stores we were trying to go to.  We walked around for about an hour before hitting the rendezvous point.. McDonalds. We boarded the bus and headed to a local school for a basketball game… one that would become one of the most memorable basketball games any of us have ever or will ever see.

We had a game set up with a local club team who wanted some good competition so Roberto, Joe, Howard, Ryan, Garret, Matt and myself laced up our kicks and got hyped to play some ball. It was a fun game, we were winning the whole time but it was close at times. There was about a minute left, we were up by at least 20, and Roberto were jones’n for a dunk. We got the board and were pushin’ it up the court, Garret was looking like D Wade, he drove the line and threw it off the back board- Berto jumped up.. caught the ball… over a Skopje player… threw the ball through the hoop, grabbed the rim….. and SHATTERED THE BACKBOARD!!! My boy Roberto Nelson #55 from Santa Barbara shattered the backboard. It was a vintage backboard from when the school was initially set up, and the other teams coach had warned us not to dunk but there Joe, Berto, and myself and a few of the other teams players had been dunking all game so we didn’t think anything of it. But somehow he hit the right spot and the glass rained down. We have video and photos of the bucket list item and will be posted ASAP. It was an incredible feat that every basketball player in the world dreams of doing, big ups to my man Berto! And a special shout out to Brendon Ziegler our strength and conditioning coach back in Corvallis!! All those weights and training are paying off B, we are breaking backboards and taking names out here in Macedonia!

After the Berto got some stitches and a memorable trip to a Macedonian hospital we headed back to the hotel. It was a memorable day with a legendary story.


# NP Slide Show- T.I

Tuesday June 21st, 2011

Tuesday June 21st, 2011

I woke up at 9am had the same breakfast, packed up my stuff and headed to the worksite. Once there we had to wait about an hour for a lift to be set up. The goal today was to finish the 2nd story ceiling, in order to do this we would have to mix and move about 100 wheelbarrows of motor to be spread across the ribs and bricks on the 2nd story. Instead of carrying up all that mortar by hand in buckets,  we would fill wheelbarrows with the mortar then they would be lifted to the 2nd story and poured out then brought back down using the same life. At first glance this lift looked a little iffy, but it worked well all day and only one wheelbarrow of mortar was lost. About half way through our workday I went with Matt to film my daily journal. Every day one of us shoots a short video about something that happened that day, it’s a pretty cool and entertaining way to keep everyone back home up to date with short clips about our time here.

After I finished my daily journal and the work was almost done, Garret, Joe, Roberto and I went into town with Milan looking for ankle braces/ shoes for the basketball game we were playing the next day. Unfortunately we were unable to find much, Joe and I have size 18 and 15 shoe and were later told there are no shoes that big in Kumanovo! We went home with a pair of ankle braces, but despite the lack of shoes, it was a fun trip into the town.

We got back to the hotel about 4:45 and relaxed for about 20 minutes before we headed to the school to play some basketball. A guy named Tyzee came to our worksite today, his friend has been helping us on the house and told Tyzee we played basketball. He is a local Hip Hop/Reggae recording artist who also played basketball over here for a few years. He and some of his friends and Joe, Roberto, Ryan, Howard, Garret and myself played some 5 on 5. It was nothing serious… just some fun pick up, but man it felt great to get up and down the floor! It was fun to play some ball in an indoor gym and feel the rhythm of the game.

After 2 hours of hoopin, we headed back to the hotel and showered up for dinner we had been anxiously anticipating al day. We were headed to PomOdoro, a pizzeria that was owned by a man who was a cook at an American Army base in Djibouti, Africa- finally a chance to eat some real pizza! The menu was very extensive and the owner was extremely friendly. I ended up ordering the breaded cheese (a new favorite of mine over here), Chicken tenders, a Caesar salad and a delicious pepperoni pizza with real tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here but… wow another delicious meal!!

Today is a shorter blog day..

Talk to you soon


#NP just the way you are – Bruno Mars

Monday June 20th, 2011

 Got up at 8:45 this morning for a quick breakfast- you don’t really need a lot of time or space when you eating half a load of bread and some ham. We all arrived on the worksite about 9:10, and started working within 15 minutes. The goal for today was to move all the ribs for the 2nd floor ceiling from the ground. A group of us were on the ground moving and lifting the 12-16 foot long ribs up and once I got it as high as I could, the next group on the 2nd floor would grab it and pass it up to the next group on the third floor to lay the ribs in place for the 2nd story ceiling. It was a tiring process but we were able to get it done within an hour or so. After that, the OSU Brick squad was on call and we moved a bunch of bricks- one of our best worksite skills. At one point I went over to help Taylor and Kristen with the Basketball hoop we are building for the kids. It is actually a sweet hoop that would awesome to have back home, a very grassroots look constructed with careful consideration. We took a brake for lunch at 1:00, and enjoyed the chicken breast sandwiches every one has come to like. Once the chicken breast feast was over, we went back to moving bricks and moving the rest of the ribs for the rest of the day. It was a long day, and doing the same 2 jobs through out the day made it a little tedious. We called it a day at 3ish and made it back to the hotel. After cleaning up and relaxing for a short minute, we had sandwiches before getting on the bus and heading to the Mayor of Staro Nagorichane Province Residence. A few Macedonian TV camera crews were there as well, we spent some time listening and conversing with him. He was very interested in what we though of his province and his country, and of course we told the truth- its different in some ways from back home, but a beautiful area with very nice people! Following our meeting in his residence, the major led us over to an old church about 2 blocks away from his place.

From the ground up to the second story it is all original from the 11th century, and then from the second story up is all original from the 14th century. This was another ancient piece from the past that we were able to experience. The inside walls were completely covered with fresco paintings. I got some pictures and will definitely post those! All the women in our group however were not able to go step inside because their legs were exposed and women need to be fully clothed in order to step into this highly sacred place. Some of us guys thought I was unfair they could not see this beautiful church from the inside, so we took off our shorts and handed them over. They were able to go inside and the other guys were just hanging because they had 2 pairs of shorts on… however… I was not wearing two pairs of shorts and found myself standing within the walls of this ancient and most holy church in my underwear! Krista was the one I so gladly sacrificed my clothing for and I would do it again in a heartbeat- the inside of this place was so cool.

         After regaining my clothes, we all walked with the Mayor and a few of his people back to his residence. On the way we walked past a little convenient store, where the Mayor bought everyone a bottle of Skopskop- the most popular bottle of beer in Macedonia. He took of his tie and we all sat down an enjoyed a cold one with the Mayor; pretty cool! While everyone was knockin em back, Roberto and I spotted one of the largest chickens we had ever seen. Naturally we decided it would be a good idea to try to catch it… hahaha wow it was much harder than we thought! We used a cornering technique but the evasive poultry escaped through some thick brush near the side of the street.  We had a few more chances but were unsuccessful, yet it was not in vain for this experience would prove helpful in the very near future. Upon arrival to the Mayor’s residence, we all noticed a few smaller, regular sized chickens in the yard…. This was round 2! We worked together chasing the frantic little birds all over the yard until one was caught by Jen after it was hiding in some arborvitae, and about 3 minutes later one was trying to outrun me.. it failed and I caught the chicken!! Haha it felt good knowing that with a little help, (shout out to Ryan McCants) a chicken can be caught.

         We then proceeded to the nearby school to play a soccer game against some locals. We though we were playing kids or teenagers, but no… we were playing full grown men, the youngest was probably about 30. We strapped on our game faces and got hyped for the game. We played a great game on the Macedonian blacktop but sadly lost 3-2. After a close game we decided we should get some good food to ease our pain of the loss, so we headed to The Harp, an Irish pub in the town of Kumanovo. Being a young man with Irish-ness running through my veins I was excited for a meal I knew would be nothing less then divine. I enjoyed a Caesar salad, garlic bread, fried cheese, and a chicken fillet steak from the grill with French fries.. Some people have commented via email to me that I am obsessed with food due to the nature of my posts sometimes- and I do! After dinner a few of us walked to the Casino a few blocks away, and some people enjoyed playing some traditional poker games, in addition to this we met an American from Massachusetts along the way who was friends with some locals; real cool girls who spoke English! Haha a great change from everyone else here.

         We got back to the hotel with full stomachs, new friends, and a little less ( more for some) money in our pockets. All in all another great day:)


NP Honeybee- Blake Shelton

Hootie hoo

Sunday June 19th, 2011

Sunday June 19th, 2011

Everyone woke up today a little late then usual… just in time for lunch actually! We left the Hotel Park in Veles at 12:30, loaded our stuff into the trailer behind the Sprinter, and then walked to lunch. Lunch consisted of the usual salads, cheese, bread, and meat… and yes the chicken was bomb, but there was also a new item- Omelet’s!  We had chicken and cheese omelets and some people ordered various types of meat and veggies and sides. The waiter misunderstood some people’s orders and when they asked for a omelet with only chicken and cheese, they were brought a plate with a chicken breast and melted cheese on top; the communication/language barrier can be comical at times.

We boarded the bus and drove 20 minutes to the Stobi Archaeological Site. An ancient Roman City initially built in the 2nd century BC under the reign of the Macedonian king Phillip V. We got a special tour of the whole site and saw everything from the jaw dropping coliseum, the church, the bathhouse and some other social and family dwellings. It was incredible to be within this ancient city, you see stuff like his on TV or magazines, but we actually walked through the same corridors and on the same stone as people thousands of years ago! We finished up the tour with the honor of being able to go into what was left of the coliseum and took some cool photos and videos: and yes Planking was involved.

(Quick heads up—keep an eye out for the official Planking Without Borders photo album coming soon…)

After our surreal trip around Stobi, we took a 20-minute drive into Skopje and headed to the residence of Philip T. Reeker, the United State Ambassador for a BBQ and swimming. On the way though… it was proven that Macedonia has the craziest drivers of anywhere I have every seen! Never have I seen such a blunt disrespect of road rules and driving courtesy… passing and a lack for any stop light or yielding.. haha it was intense. But once we got his house, never in my life has a pool looked so refreshing or felt so good. It was like jumping into a cool wet heaven and every muscle in my body relaxed and was immediately relaxed… oooh man it was nice. The food was American and boy was it good!! Burgers, grilled chicken and a variety of classic BBQ sides such as Potato salad, and sliced tomatoes with onions. Everyone had a great time swimming, eating, and mingling with other Americans who were there ( from the Embassy and a few marines). There was also a puppy who someone brought who was saved off the streets in Macedonia; it was only 5 weeks old and sooo cute!! There are a lot of stray dogs here and we even saw a stray horse! No joke! It was chillin under an over pass eating some dead grass… nothing holding him there or any type of identification or sign of ownership…. Hahaha they got stray/wild horses out here!

But the Ambassadors house was a much-appreciated break from the last week. Once we got back to the hotel, everyone gathered in the lobby area of our floor we did the Deck of Card workout. You draw a card and do however many push ups the card is, face cards are 10 and Aces are 11, then after you do that many push ups you rest for the same interval in seconds. So if you draw an “8” you do 8 push ups then rest for 8 seconds then draw another card. It is a total of 260 push-ups in a short amount of time, and very challenging. But we had some music playing and each other to push through it. Some people could not make it through, when that happens you do a body bridge instead of the push-ups, that way you are still doing work. It was pretty tiring, but we weren’t done yet! Jen led us through the ab workout they do in gymnastics… and you know gymnasts have STRONG cores, that was harder than the push-ups! Haha but after it all it felt good to get in a work out and do so with my fellow Beaver athletes. We even practiced dong wall hand stands for a bit, and let me tell you… Me upside down against a wall is quite a feat! haha

After everyone got cleaned up Roberto, Jen, MC, Kristen and myself played a game Roberto made up, called Berto Ball, and it is the lamest game you have heard of, but we had a great time and are going to play it again this week. You pretty much sit on the edge of the bed and one person lays on the floor tosses a small soft ball up and uses their hand as a bat and hits it off the wall and tries to hit or “tag” someone one the edge of the bed.. but the people on the bed cannot move. Lol yeah we were kinda bored haha but it was all fun. Post Berto ball, I went to my room, looked at some new YouTube videos and blogged a little bit, organized some photos, and spent some well enjoyed time on Skype. After a long day of events and driving my small dorm sized bed felt great.


#NP Hillbilly Deluxe- Brooks & Dunn

Yeah- I love country music and its feelin like country time:)

Saturday June 18th, 2011

Saturday June 18th, 2011

          Well, everyone woke up this morning tired from last night and the full week of work, but everyone was excited for our first full day off our usual worksite. Today we were headed to the town of Veles, Macedonia, which is just over an hour drive from our hotel in Kumanovo. On the way the bus driver found some American radio station and we hard some serious classics like In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins and Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff. At one point we were lost in what appeared to be a Macedonian ghetto with projects and dirty streets and… well it was just a shady area… lol. Once we got to Veles, and the Habitat for Humanity site, we got a tour of the area and the 5-year project, which is about halfway completed. The apartments were pretty nice and constructed with some “green” materials, that plus the government and property management makes this a prime spot to live for families in the area. We split into groups for various tasks, Roberto, Joe, Howard, Kristen and I had the task of painting the inside of an apartment. The paint was literally the same consistency as and resembled skim milk! But we used our rollers and brushes to milk the walls, and boy did we do a good job!

         When the work was done, we walked down the hill to the Habitat for Humanity building/ base station for a Barbeque. Some local families and families who were moving into the houses were there; they cooked for all of us as a thank you for coming and helping them:)  The BBQ included a homemade tomato, onion, cucumber salad (delicious), and a smorgasbord of grilled meats including beef/pork patties and sausages and chicken (also delicious). Although it was really tasty and very much enjoyed, there was an abundance of meat that was cooked up, I felt kind of bad we could not eat anymore- but seriously we were all stuffed and couldn’t think about ANY food!!

         At the BBQ was a family, with each member being an extremely talented artist. The son Stefan, (12), actually drew some pictures for us after his older sister showed us some of his paintings on her phone. He redrew on of his favorites in about 30 minutes than drew the old school OSU Beaver logo that has been proudly visible on the front of my hat. OH MY GOODNESS.. this kid is could be world wide famous someday! I kept both drawrings he did and have plans to frame and hang them up in my house back in Corvallis.

         After dinner we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and head to dinner, we went to a place called Petopah YapAack. A second story restaurant in the middle of Veles, with American subtitled menus. We were able to order whatever we wanted, with this privilege at hand, I ordered a Greek salad, toasted cheese, and a chicken steak with white rice and French fries… oh my gosh so BOMB! I’m sure it appears that I talk about food a lot on here but I love food and some of the stuff we are eating over here is just so tasty! We finished up a great dinner and as we were leaving our waiter told us to walk over and check out this new summer place that just open called Havana. Supposedly it was THE place to go in the summer and it just opened up yesterday. We took his advice and even though our directions were pretty sketchy to say the least, we found our way there. It was like a scene out of a Vegas nightclub. A huge pool with islands and a bridge to the islands, two-story club like area overlooking the pool… it was crazy. When we got there we were like the only people there so we just hung out for about an hour, then all of a sudden people just started pouring in and we found ourselves in the middle of a Macedonian club getting looks from everyone! Haha but despite the looks from everyone, we had a great time! No one over here dances but that didn’t stop us…. Oh no there was about 15 of us and we started a dancing area near the stage where the live saxophone player was jamming TO the techno/house music pulsating through out the place. At one point the music died down for a second so I started an “ OOOOO…SSSSS…UUU Oregon state fight fight fight” chant and all of us started doing it. Hahaha it was AWESOME!! It was a great night and the perfect way to send Dom back home. He had to go home to make it back in time for a summer school class. He is greatly missed already- Dom if your reading this… “ Ol’ poured cement all day bricks- not the same without you here bricks… everyone misses you bricks… jealous your eating American food BRICKS!!”

         After Havana, we made it back to our hotel and went straight to sleep! Haha

I will post Sunday’s blog tomorrow and possible some more pics!


 #NP Barefoot Blue Jean Night- Jake Owens


I thought I should put a map on here and let everyone know exactly where we are right now. We are staying in a town called Kumanovo which is north east of the Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. We have traveled to a few other cities from 20 minutes to an hour and a half long drives. Just wanted to give a map of where we were:)

If you have any questions or comments for me you may email me at [email protected], Facebook me at, OR use the new chat room on the homepage of this website. I am going to try out this feature and see how it goes.

Talk to you soon!


#NP Is it possible- Raheem DeVaughn, a laid back chill R&B jam

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

Thursday June 16th, 2011

Thursday June  16th, 2011

Woke up at 8:30 and packed up the usual bag for a full workday: sunscreen (I told you I was wearing it momJ), camera, a cliff bar, and of course- my hat. Joe and I headed down to get some quick breakfast with everyone before we left for the worksite. I had 8 pieces of bread; some with butter and plum jelly others with honey, and with a bowl of cereal. We walked to the worksite at 9:00 at began promptly right were we left off the day before. Most of us guys started working on a ditch around the side and back of the house for a short wall being put up. When told we were going to dig a 2ft by 1ft ditch I thought “ no problem”, I have done plenty of digging before and thought with about 5 guys working on it would be done in no time… boy was I wrong! We were receiving instruction from several different people but here is what really happened: 4 guys plus myself were asked to dig a 2 foot wide by 1 foot deep that was 30 feet in length on one side of the house and about 100 feet on the other side of the house… with pick axes!! The shovels that were available were so thin that we actually bent the tips back when we tried to dig in the dirt; these “shovels” became scooping devices and the pick axes were used to loosen up the ground and create piles for the scoopers to come in and remove the dirt. After about 2 hours, we were told it did not have to be the 2×1 ft measurements, but instead a shovelhead wide and a hovel head deep, although this was great news it dramatically changed our approach to the ditch. We finished the ditch after 3 hours before we were divided up and given new jobs. Straightening thin rebar previously used in roofing then using a unique rebar bending tool was used to give the rebar a, 11-inch square shape. The new squares were then used as a collar around thicker rebar, which was placed within the new cement columns to strengthen the integrity of the structure.

Through out the day we unloaded 2 truckloads of bricks, about 12 palates, which equals approximately 800 bricks… we were putting in WORK!! It was pretty cool how we all worked together using the Beaver Supply Line to get the bricks were they needed to go. Of course there was the cement being mixed and transported within the supply lie, and after all the bricks and cement was moved successfully, everyone from the trucks to the roof let a big sigh and let their noodle like arms fall to their side and finally relax.

Before lunch Roberto came up with idea that we should create a basketball hoop so the kids could shoot and practice at home. Through out the day Roberto and Taylor were discussing possibilities and creating designs, and I must say- it is going to be way cool! It is something all the kids in the neighborhood kids can use and enjoy- great idea Berto! Sometime in the afternoon probably about 3:00 or 4:00, we all started to play with the kids, soccer, volleyball, and a basketball were all being used to volley, juggle, and play monkey in the middle. There are a few kids in the neighborhood with mopeds and were giving rides to those of us brave enough to jump on the back and trust our lives to these young boys. After an hour of games and riding around the house, we all walked over the basketball hoop near the school to play some hoops. Once there we shot around and played a little Knock Out with each other and the kids while others just enjoyed the evening and watched. Once Matt got there with the camera equipment Berto attempted a trick shot using a nearby building and the hoop… There will be a video coming out soon that you can see and I do not want to ruin anything so until then I’ll say this “ Duh don don- duh don don” (Sports Center theme)…

Following the hoop fest we got cleaned at the hotel and took a walk into town for dinner. We walked down the same route as last time, and this time we made a special stop to see The Beast. About halfway into town there is a nicer house on the left side of the road with a couple dogs caged up… did I say dogs..?… I meant four legged animals that resemble dogs but are bigger and more vicious looking then any dog I have ever seen in my life! I have a few pictures (hopefully will be up soon), and this dog is similar to the dog from the movie The Sandlot; an enormous animal that injects fear into any of those who dare to come close. As we all walked past and continued to look over our backs for a few blocks we entered the town and walked to Zhamara.

Just outside the restaurant was a basketball hoop with pavement where a few kids were playing. Joe, Roberto, Garret, Dominic and myself stopped for a second to shoot a few hoops and attempt a few dunks- made more interesting as the hoop appeared to be a few inches over the standard 10 feet. I have a short video of our time there and will post that when I can. Zhamara was a unique restaurant, it had a roof and a few walls but also was open to the air around which allowed for a smooth summer breeze to keep us cool during dinner. We had the basic Macedonian family style meal of vegetables and salad, followed by a toasted cheese and bread then a grilled meat plate. However, a few of us guys ordered an American dish that was the hot topic of conversation during the day: a good ol’ American Hamburger. After one of our team leaders from Habitat for Humanity, Milan, translated to our waiter we anxiously awaited our burgers. What came next was a sight from heaven! A huge burger within buns the size of a loaf of bread… oh man we were going to be soooo full after this! The burgers were literally the size of our faces and tasted amazing. And yes I have evidence of these real Macedonian Burgers, and I still can’t believe that we ate the whole thing! The other dishes everyone else was enjoying were also very good. One thing consistent at all Macedonian restaurants is that they sure know how to cook chicken. The chicken at every restaurant has been cooked simply on a grill with seasoning, but it is incredibly juicy and tasty, from here on out when I am presented with a menu I am going with the chicken. The meat plate consisted of chicken, cheese stuffed pork roles, and some beef/pork mixed items. We all left there feeling full and happy.

Once we returned to the hotel, we all just hung out and enjoyed getting to know each other more and building the relationships within this special group of people. Every day we grow closer and become a more tightly knit cohort. I heard from those who went on the Guatamala trip that we could become close and great friends, and even though I believed them I did not expect to feel so comfortable and close after a few days. I just want to say I am really glad I was able to come on this trip and want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped me get here. This will forever be one of the most memorable and meaningful trips of my life, and I know my peers on this trip with me feel the same, so to everyone out there who helped us get here in one way or another- thank you for supporting us and allowing us to change our lives and improve the lives of others.


#NP Watermelon Sunday- Dom Kennedy

Wednesday June 15th, 2011

Wednesday June 15th, 2011

We woke up at 8:00 to enjoy a classic  Macedonian breakfast consisting of cereal, ham, turkey, bread, honey, butter and jam. We walked to the work site, everyone was excited for our first full work day as a whole team; the whole cohort working together finally. The first full work day I expected to leave dead tired barely able to make it back to the hotel without taking a nap! We started by removing the nails from wood that was previously supporting up the roof. Over here the re-use as many supplies as they can, doing this is more efficient and cost effective. There was a few people with regular hammers and myself and a few others had a unique tool that was a combination of a pick and a nail remover. At first it was hard to use, but after a few failures and a few successful pulls, we got the hang of it and were able to get the nails out. But wow.. what a challenging task! Next we had our first experience with the infamous red Macedonian bricks. Although we didnt know it at the time, we would become very familiar with these Bricks. The large white trucks would roll up to the work site with anywhere from 3 to 6 palates of these large clay bricks. First step was to determine where they would be place; on the ground or up on the 2nd floor we were building. The bricks are used for the exterior and interior walls of the house. Regardless of the destination of the bricks, our whole cohort would form a human supply line consisting of a variety of tosses and hand offs from 1 ft to 15 feet. Once we found our groove we were no doubt the best human supply line Macedonia and the Balkans have ever SEEN!! Of course the bricks needed something to keep them secure and bonded together, so as the bricks moved, we would mix and transport cement at intravenous intervals up the supply line. There are about 5 locals who are doing all the masonry work, so we bring them the supplies and let them do the work. It is a daily obstacle to match our “can do” attitude and the locals “it’ll get done”. We are all want to work fast and hard and get the work done so we can complete the tasks at hand and also get to those optional tasks, were as the locals seem to get done what they can when they can, knowing that everything will get done in due time. Hopefully we can find a rhythm over the next few days to make the brick and cement projects smoother.

We had lunch around 12:30, which was much needed and we were told it was pizza, which added to the excitement to a familiar food. However…. when the pizza arrived, it looked like a pizza but the toppings and taste were something new for everyone.  As Howie Croom stated this pizza was ” different”, and we all agreed! It had a basic crust, the sauce was red and had tomato seeds in it but tasted unlike any other pizza sauce we had before. The cheese was a faint yellow and had a very chewy texture, and to top it off there were sliced yellow mushrooms and some seasons.  We all enjoyed the food, and although our taste buds were not used to these specific tastes, it was a microcosm of what I expect our whole trip be like here; there will be some familiarities from home and also some new things that will push us out of our comfort zones. This is one aspect of the Beavers Without Borders program that is so unique, we become fully immersed in another culture outside of what anyone could expect and even though it can be a challenge sometime, every challenge is an opportunity and well worth it.

During the last half of the day, we finished the nails and wood project as well as the bricks. We also had time to spend with the kids of the neighborhood; Stefan, Alec, Dennis, Milana, and Maria. We played some tag, soccer and played with a basketball. Being the basketball trick guru that he is, Joe was probably the boy’s favorite as he performed tricks they had never even thought of before.

After getting cleaned up and about an hour of relaxation, we all walked into town for dinner. It was about a 30-minute walk to the traditional restaurant Baba Cana “Grandma Cana”. We had a three-course meal; the first of which was appetizers grilled seasoned zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and a grape lead filled with rice and beef. I tried all 4 items and enjoyed each one equally; this was followed by a plate of grilled white cheese. I was a little skeptical of the cheese at first, I had never eaten grilled cheese before, and the thought of doing so with nothing else was a new concept, but it was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed polishing of the plate in front of me.  The third and final course consisted of three bowls each with a different food within. The first was a pork and veggie like stew, the next was a beef n pork meatball with mushroom dish known to the locals as “ village meat”. The third dish was called Tavche Gravche, the best way to describe it was baked pinto beans, and they were not that bad!  We finished our traditional Macedonian meal with ice cream and baklava, the ice cream was good but the baklava was something new for me and also a desert I am looking forward to having again soon!

Once back to the hotel attempted to update the blog with photos and a blog update, but due to slow Internet and an abundance of photos, I was unsuccessful but I remain optimistic and will complete my updating over the weekend.

Thanks for being patient with the updates, the photos are becoming quite a daunting task due the number of photos and the restrictions on my website and possible mediums. They will be up as soon as possible!

Feel free to email me with any questions, comments or anything!

[email protected]


#NP  Cat Daddy- the Rej3ctz

9:30 pm June 16th, 2011

I wish I could update everyone on the last two days but the internet has been super slow the last couple days and it takes forever to upload a picture or a blog message… please be patient as I attempt to outsmart the technology over here in Macedonia:) haha I hope to be fully updated within the next couple days. I am working on the pictures now, So far I have 1,221 to go through and edit, and each day I add at least 150 new pictures. Thanks again for being patient, I promise it is worth the wait!

Talk to you soon

– Kevin

#NP Lucky Man- Montgomery Gentry