Republic of Macedonia (Република Македонија)
- Capital: Skopje (Скопје)
- Official language: Macedoninan
- Government: Parliamentary republic
- Area: 25,713 km2
- Population: 2009 ESTIMATE 2,050,671
- Currency: Macedonian denar (MKD) (1 dollar = 42.57 MKD, july 2011)
Previous to start speaking my experiences in Macedonia I would like to give an introduction to the history of Macedonia.
After the former Yugoslavia control, independent countries started to emerge; Macedonia became independent in 1992 and was the feeblest country from the Balkans even more than Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 65 per cent of its 2 million were Slavs and were known to everybody as Macedonians before to declare as Macedonia the official country name. The Bulgarians always insisted Macedonia was just westerns Bulgarians.
Prestigious universities in Europe suggest that as much as $100 billion dollars will be needed to create stability in the Balkans.
When the people hear something about Macedonia, probably get many questions like where is it; Asia, Europe? What can I find in Macedonia? It is because Macedonia besides of being a small country they are far from the most important economies in the world and they have a very rough history always trying to survive to everybody’s political interest, in fact it can be said they are victims of their geographical fate being between two countries that if maybe now are not as powerful as one day were, they always have got the support of the strongest nations in the world. Do you have any clue what countries am I talking about? Well I am talking about the always economically, politically and historically important for Europe Greece. Macedonia and Greece have always shared endless territorial fights, and their northern neighbor Serbia, let’s remember that Macedonia was part the Yugoslavia and Serbia was the strongest Yugoslavia Nation, the leaders of Serbia have never treated the Macedonians as they deserved just for not say that one day many Macedonian were Serbian’s Slavs, this until the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) decided to stop this situation. The eastern neighbor Bulgaria always with economical, political interest problems for having oil and for enjoy the Black Sea trade facilities, and in the western neighbor Albania wanted for laying in the Mediterranean Sea waters.
Since Macedonia got their independence the economical problems have shown an unreachable stable path.
It is possible that you still wander why I decided to go Macedonia when there are many others places in Europe more attractive and in fact I was asked this question more than once and my answer was always the same “I don’t want to be just another typical tourist who is only interested in showing off his friends of visiting Paris, London, Rome etc. I think lots of people blind themselves thinking that Europe is geographically formed only by countries like France, Germany, Italy, England when Europe is more than that, if we check the history of Macedonia, we can we see not all the stories have a happy ending.
When you arrive these to kind of places you either leave as soon as possible or learn to open your mind and heart trying to enjoy, sharing, and living with no racial or social prejudges. If you are able to reach this point you will enjoy the journey and even farthest you will learn to value what you have in your own country or house and stop being querulous all the time. In this way at the end of the journey probably you will be a better human being. It’s about simplicity, humbleness, respect and tolerance. But that’s only in my humble opinion, do you share it or not? Well after these words hope you take the time to go Macedonia and let me know your experiences, feelings and thoughts.
“The Balkans are usually reported to the outside world only in time of terror and trouble; the rest of the time they are scornfully ignored” – Theodore Geshkoff (1940).
Well it’s time to start talking about the adventure but this time rather to start speaking about the Macedonia Capital, Skopje; I will start speaking about the adventure I lived before arrive my destination.
When I was boarding the bus (Serbia – Macedonia) a completed full bus I decided to take my backpack in my seat with me, for security issues and I had never thought it would be the best decision I made until that moment. The bus had only one floor, the seats were tight and the place definitively started to stink out more and more. The clock was my worst enemy apparently frozen; it was a long 8 hours one way trip. Please don’t forget that the bus was a full one and for more information the people from Serbia is considered as one of the tallest in Europe so now you have enough information to understand my suffering inside that Bus.
Like I mentioned before I made a great decision taking my backpack with me inside the bus to the seats zone and it’s because approximately at 3 am we had a puncture on the way. I got really scared, no one could explain me what was happening, and then everybody got off the bus to see what the matter was. Affirmative we got stuck in the middle of nowhere, neither traffic, nor houses, nor buildings, nor lights in the road, nor were a single sound there, nothing but me and tens of people speaking Serbian and our useless bus which could not had been fixed. Honestly the fear was present in every part of me.
A couple of minutes later arrived another bus with the intention of taking us Macedonia; everybody started to run to the new bus but they should come back the old bus because their belongings still were inside the bus and as I said before I always carried my backpack with me so I was the first in arriving the new bus which wasn’t empty, it had already inside many people on board. I got my new seat in the new bus and finally I could take a rest. I can’t say the same for the rest of the people who lost their seats which were already occupied. Can you imagine people equivalent for two buses traveling in the same one? Awful isn’t?
Finally the sun said “hello”; at that moment I remembered one of those mornings when I woke up in my lovely bed but suddenly a strong and unhappy sun light hit my face and showed me how rough was my reality sitting in that awful bus.
Through the window there was nothing great to appreciate. The landscapes in that region are so dry nothing but grass and a couple of trees imploring the Gods a drop of water.
When the officer woman in the border saw my passport she got surprised and gave me a smile, and said to me…-Oh a Mexico guy! …and got off the bus with every one documents, every minute they took for analyze each tourist cause with ours passports was terrific, cents of questions in my head…what if I need a visa? Where would I go? If no one speaks English how could they help me? Do I have enough money to pay a Macedonian visa? …finally the officer came back the bus and like it wasn’t dramatic enough for me, the last passport they deliver was my passport. –A Mexican passport! …said the officer out laud inside the bus, from that moment no one stop staring at me, the Mexican guy in Macedonia. Great I’m famous now! I thought.