i'm taking today off of catch up on some writing and walk around in shorts with no shirt on for a while. skopje is a really really cool city. i came here in passing but i think i'll stay a short while longer and see what there is to see. macedonia only has like two million people and half of them live in skopje, so by this measurement skopje is actually quite a lively place.
macedonians seem to embrace art to a much greater degree than many other places i've traveled. art is appreciated here and it seems to be intertwined with the culture. people here like to have a good time also, the festival i went to last night was very reminiscent of one you might see in holland or western europe and i had a riot.
i went to kosovo last week and i find it to be a difficult topic to talk about. people were really taken aback that i was there. really the question 'why?' popped up in virtually every conversation i had and people seemed to have that wrinkled 'why?' expression on their faces every time they saw me. maybe it was my tattoos. i was a little worried about the tattoo thing but then i came to macedonia and it was as if i was reunited with a long lost tribe of colorfully painted people.
i passed through many villages along my way and they seem to blend in with the haziness that comes from being a weary traveler. you cross border after border and pass village after village and after a while it blends together. this is dangerous. from this point on i'm moving slower.
i've met some really great people. really really great. we carry these backpacks full of stories and when we meet each other we unpack our bags and exchange tales from the road. there are people i've met from every corner of this earth. i wish somehow i could make them into cardboard cut outs and fold them up and take them with me. leaving is always weird. you put your backpack on and walk out of whichever type of dwelling you've chanced upon and suddenly you get this overwhelming feeling of being alone. for this brief moment you are nobody and nobody in the world knows where you are or who you are. its really quite a rush. from this moment on you have a list of needs that must be fulfilled before you can sustain again. the list goes something like:
5-place to stay
you have a small window of time to accomplish this so its good to arrive in a city early in the morning. then you get off the bus or train and you are in a new place. you've already become a story to the people you've passed in your travels as you drift off into facebook photo-tagging. i like to find a cafe. drink two coffees and stare blankly at my reflection in the windows for a while. people watch. relax a bit. this is the first step towards absorbing whichever place you've landed upon.
there are some things that we all want as humans and they are obvious. its a matter of what we do towards achieving those wants that determines our character. we learn to receive rather than take. we learn virtues and we learn not to waste. love is a gift. food is celebration and friendship is a two-way street.
and then it happens.. you find food and toilet and bed and you take off your bags for a while. now you can meet people and begin the learning process. every once in a while you meet an extraordinary person. actually it seems more often than not that you meet extraordinary people on the road. we're all a little quirky and you rarely meet someone who doesn't make an impression on you. its beautiful. you do however meet those people sometimes, like a long-bearded man who is walking from china to portugal over five years, who blow your mind. i don't get it really. those people are on something else and its almost like they are searching for something i cannot yet comprehend. we're all looking for something i guess.
this trip has been really fantastic so far and there is so much left to do. weather is getting nice and i've made it to a place with a great crossroad, each way pointing to something more interesting. get up and go man! because if you're already there...
...then there's nowhere to go.