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