The 100 Step Village~Stogazevac, Serbia

The 100 step village

I was on the top of a very tall hill, and I found fossilized coral. The muz (hubby) and I walked to the bottom of the hill and at the edge of the stream we were about to cross, when we found a stone with a shell fossil in it. He says this is not uncommon here. I am like a kid in a candy store. Sometimes, I feel I should be on a treasure hunt all the time.

This trek up the small mountain was just beyond the 100 step village.  It was a typical old village, quiet and quaint.

A rakija still was in service, and 2 men catered to what the muz calls the “happy” machine. We parked the car in front of their modest, but nice, town building. A passing Baba told us our car will safe there. This was the start our little adventure.  It is small but full of character and friendly people. We also met a nice couple of goats too. 🙂

Stogazovac is the” one hundred step village”.  Just past that beautiful little cluster of homes, is a 14th Century church. On the way to the church. you bypass paved roads and walk along with towering rocks to your right and a steep ravine to your left. At the bottom of the ravine, there is a creek trickling along. A ways up, the creek is dammed up to create a wonderful little swimming hole. There is such a difference in temperature as you descend to the waters edge. Fascinating how water has carved a deep crevice in so much stone.

The mountainous rocks tower over the road like sky scrapers. At some points there is a half tunnel carved in the rock to create the path to the old church. Trust me the pictures don’t do it justice!

We stopped a ways down because we though we had lost our way, and decided rest for a picnic. We sat at the roads edge, which had transformed into pastoral land was now mostly flat. Initially, we sat smack dab on the top of an ant hill. Ant bites are worse than their bark. We moved quickly!

When we had finished our fresh-baked bread with fresh, soft farm cheese baked inside, we saw behind was the church. It had been hidden by the natural skyscraper. It was nestled in just behind it.

The view back from our picnic sight.

It only took us a few minutes to find the path to the plank bridge that crossed the brook. We walked up the very steep hill to the top, and then rested to catch our breath.

The 14th century church had a fresh coat of paint and a new roof, but it was ancient. The walls were nearly 3 feet thick.

I can easily understand how people could find peace and worship inside or out. God had created a beautiful place. Man had made good use of the natural beauty. It is awesome there.

I was glad it was a Sunday when we came. I wish we could come here every Sunday. But soon the snow will cover the ground and getting up the hill will be impossible.

After we explored inside the church and out we made our way back down the hill to go back home. When we were about to pass through a place in the road, flanked by two massive rocks, a billy-goat came through like gang busters, and stopped when he saw us, sizing us up.  He retreated when the muz took a step forward. Probably smart. If I were a betting woman, I would put my money on the muz. He has been known to head butt bigger animals creatures and knock them down.

This billy-goat and his agile friend proceeded to climb the rock as we passed through the natural gateway.

Rabbit trail....The goats warmed my heart. I grew up on a farm with goats. My grandpa once put me on the back of our kind billy-goat and I held onto the horns. I remember his back being very pointy and not at all comfortable like a horse. End rabbit trail…
On the other side of the towering rock gateway, we were greeted by two village children, the goats caretakers. They said “Dobar Dan” or good day to each of us, and then kept looking back at us.
They were bewildered by my English. I love the wonder in their eyes. I wish I could sit and chat with all of them. I used to be a village child myself. I am pretty sure we have more in common than not! Just a difference of birth place and language.

The walk back to the car was fun, I stopped to take a pic of the same couple of gents making the countries favorite liquor, rakija. (This is pronounced rah-key-a.) One of the men said to me, “Odakle ste?” (Where are you from?) When I said “America”, it was fun to see the reaction on their faces. The village reactions and sweet interactions are so much different from the ones of regular town folks.

This was a magical day.

The Expat Triumph’s over the Dark Side

I wrote this post a couple days ago. This bit inspired the Yoda Quotes post that I have now made a page. Honestly, those quotes are universal, and can be used to inspire anyone. Anyway, on with today’s blog…

Over time, I have realized, I become needy at times. I turned into the girl who is looking for expat friends to have those connecting conversations. Expat isolation, strikes again. But like the Empire, I strike back. in time.

Like in Star Wars, it takes time for the plot to unfold.

A sick kind of desire overwhelms me, I am looking for that kind understanding that only an expat can have, no matter where they are from. The force within me weakens and I am vulnerable to the “dark side”.

However, since I am from a small town, I am not in reach of anyone nearby that I can have a conversation with locally. That creates a loneliness that can create a stranger in me. It can be the stimulus for the expat depression I wrote about yesterday.

I have always wanted to be that friendly inviting person that makes others feel comfortable. (I get that from my Mom. “Thanks Mom!”) But with this unusual longing, I have become less of that inviting “Little Miss Sunshine” friendly girl and more of the Eeyore dreary type. The clingy, needy, SWF type person who is looking for friends. Anyone who understands. Not a very attractive side, I admit.

I don’t like this me. She does not often emerge, but when she does, I know I need help. Fortunately, I can help myself. I have developed strategies and employ them regularly.

This neediness is a side effect of the Expat Blues I wrote about and cast away yesterday. As a result, I had a stellar day.

If you see that side of you becoming dominant, it takes a bit of effort, but being positive and determined can make all the difference in the world. Do not be a victim of the Syth lord. Stay strong.

Yesterday started out so glum, and I turned it around with being Thankful. Then, I had some setbacks. I could have let them color my day dark… I stopped myself and decided to put a positive spin on it. That made all the difference in the world.

I am still smiling at the turn in the road I made. Triumph! The Force was strong with me today. And I learn from my victories as well as my mistakes.

Sometimes the dreary days are too much for us or circumstances are not as easy to change. But just remember, time changes things. With enough effort, choosing to be happy, or finding the bright side you will change yourself! You can become a beacon for others to bring them out of the darkness that overtakes them.

In this ongoing struggle, you never know what kind of cool intergalactic friends you will make along the way. Maybe you will meet them in a time of need. Yours or theirs. reach out. Hopefully not too much translation will be needed. 😉

You will be stronger and braver in the long run.  The need to cling to others in that not parasitical way diminishes.  I still want to share my experiences with other expats and have that long talk over coffee, but the dark longing that is accompanied by bitching and complaining is gone.

A healthier psychological outlook has come again. Optimism is back and I am me again. This is an ongoing struggle. But each challenge is as real as each victory we have.  The choices we make shape our lives. Choose to be positive create a bright outlook for yourself and others.

Here are some songs that can help you with a brighter outlook on life:

 

 

Halloween Obstacles in Serbia

Planning for an English Club Halloween party is proving harder than expected. It will largely end up being just a costume party. That is enough, and most of the fun anyway, right?  Keeping it simple is key.

Let me share the challenges I am up against. The decorations are the main issue.

I found that orange pumpkins aren’t so common. They are grown for feeding pigs. There are so many other options, that is really irrelevant. It is just shocking as massive fields are dedicated to these orange pumpkins in the U.S. for fall decoration and picture-taking purposes only!

The decorative brooms we use to decorate and symbolize a witches broom, is as common as sliced bread here. Here is a bit of irony: sliced bread isn’t so common. LOL Brooms are so different here, I could do a post on them alone!  I guess that will be my blog.

Costume ideas are often culturally different… for instance. In the U.S. twice I have gone as Gypsy because no one knows they exist. To us they are like unicorns. A.k.a. mythical story book creatures. It is a little like this M&M commercial.

 

Yet, the word in Serbian for Gypsy in Serbian is like saying the “N” word in the U.S. Roma is the proper word for these people.

The irony continues… The “N” word in Serbia is common. There are almost no black people here… only in cities. And the kids here that listen to American rap here the word and don’t understand how bad it is.  Who is gonna tell them? Maybe me? in this post. 🙂

Other costume issues are that things that are common costumes are possibly cultural reference that the kids here may not recognize. DIY (do it yourself) or home-made costumes don’t seem so common. But then again, maybe I am wrong. I am kinda new at this.

The food and drinks we would use back home aren’t even sold here. I doubt anyone here knows what candy corn are! In case you don’t, they are a super sweet chewy candy.

In the words of Wayne’s world, “Party on!”

or in the more recent and very popular…

 

Do you have any experience in putting on a Halloween party? Tell me about it!

 

 

 

 

You Know Your House is Serbian If….

Hi all! this is a repost of a blog I did last year. I think I am going to expand on it. But thought I may get some input if I posted again.

Opa Serbian Style

First of all, I know what you are thinking… Opa is something Greeks say. Well, you are right, but they also say it here. It’s a normal expression. I’ve taken it up myself. Serbs also do that circle dancing with both arms up in the air like you see in My Big fat Greek Wedding. Greece and Serbia, Pretty  similar in my opinion. Well, minus the beautiful blue-green  water.

Second. You might be thinking,,, Serbian Style?? What the French toast? Or you are Serbian, and you’re wondering where this is going. I got you.

This is my top 20 list of knowing you are living Serbian Style.

Here we gooo!

20. There is a red egg somewhere in your house. (Left over from Easter, ON purpose.)

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19. Vegeta is on your spice rack.

18. You know about village life.Image

17. You or someone you know still drives a Yugo or a car made by Zastava. (That is the company that became Yugo.)Image

16. Cervena, Plava, Bela, is the correct order of the colors.

15. You know what a Kinder Egg is.

14. You have a chair or couch  or both, that can convert into a bed.

13. You go to the store once a day to get bread. Really good fresh bread. Not sliced! and you put it in a bread box.

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12. The lightswitch for the bathroom (as well as the water heater) is just outside the door.

11. You have atleast 3 bottles of Rakija in your home.

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10. You have Slava celebrating remnants somewhere in your home.

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 They are left over from this:

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9. You have a huge space waster in your living room doubling as a china cabinet, closet, entertainment center, bookshelf, bar, etc…

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8.Your salt and pepper shaker is actually a salt and salt dispenser, because pepper is expensive. Also pictured are the typical European electric outlet and silverware drainer.

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 7. Dryer, What dryer.

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 6. Your washers directions are not in English.

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5. Your smallest drinking glasses are like little shot glasses, but they are for Rakija!

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4. Pictures around your home are actually needlepoint art your mom made and framed and/or a picture of the Serbian Royal family.

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 3. There is a Serbian flag somewhere in your home and possibly a picture of the Serbian Royal family. See pic with Rakija above.

 2. Your shoes are close to the front door. and you are wearing slippers (papuce).

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 1. There is a picture of Sv.Nikola or some other Saint in your home, somewhere.

ImageFeel free to let me know if I have missed anything vital by leaving a comment!

Dobar Dan!

Serblish little munchkin~isms

Last week I was seriously down for the count. I didn’t do a dern thing. Not even my T25. I was just busted and broken down by a virus.  Monday I got back to work. I use the term “work” loosely. 😉

The physical training has been reinstated as well as watching and listening to Serbian cartoons. You are fortunate I do not share the pics of T25 wrist sweat or zoo smell after. Thank God for running water for showers post workout!

Indoor plumbing is also such a blessing with a little one who loves to color and paint. This said paint may be on more than paper and must be washed off!

Peeshee or writing/coloring is one of her favorite past times! The table clothe is a little worse for the wear…

Munchkin is becoming proficient in both languages, New words are popping up all the time. Tonight, I had to ask for a translation from the muz. She leaves out some necessary syllables that make understanding her baby Srpski. Of course, Baba is totally confused with her English, I have to translate all the time.

Lately she has a fascination with “open” and “close”. In Serbian that is “otvori” and “zatvori”. For a little one, that is “tvori” and “tvori”. I am focusing on English for this one. We know which she means when she says “pen” and “kwoz”!

Climbing up on mommy’s craft/work desk is unavoidable. A roadblock much be produced soon or my shelves will be empty.

Today, she climbed up into her personal seat all by herself. That is just a little scary. Must remember to keep the chair further, but she could probably move it herself.

Tantrums are awesome, and her favorite things to throw. Markers may go flying in the process of flipping out. Surely she will fly forward landing face down fake crying and I just ignore her. Saw enough of this with the brother and sister 30 years ago. I thought it was dumb then. I have the same opinion now.

Daddy is down a computer lately, as she has claimed it for her personal use. Pingu, Pepa Prase/Pig, and Despicable Minions are her favorite things to watch.

Cabin fever is killing us all, and we are grateful for the thaw. Today we went out for a swing. Promptly she fell hands first in the mud made from the melted snow. We made a B-line it for the closest public restroom in Dom Kultura where we could wash off and drip dry. There were no paper towels or toilet paper. This is the norm in Serbia. I just haven’t acclimated to bring tissues everywhere with me yet. I will in time I am sure. or not. I am flexible.

Before bed we jump and play on the new floor resting mattress. It is always time for learning new words. cha`pe is the Munchkinism for charap’e or sock. She has been carrying some florescent spotted socks of mine all over the house and saying cha’pe over and over.

Eating a glues stick is such a great idea. Mean Mom made me stop. Only this quick shot under the table made me stop freaking out about my choice of snack being taken!

Last night, Ku Dul was the new fun word. Cuddling or maza in Serbian is a laughter filled fun thing to do with Mommy and Daddy on the bed. Lots of Kisses and running around and even more jumping followed by Ku Dul! Good Times!

It would be even better if Mommy and Daddy could Ku Dul with out baby sometimes. But you can’t have it all!

Dobar Dan Y’all!

 

Serbian Sightings_Ninja Nuns

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store. Everything was business as usual till two Orthodox nuns came in. I have only seen them at a monastery previously. On a day when the weather could melt any normal human, I was shocked to see this couple out and about in their black, almost burka type dress. They must have been sweltering! OR they must have super human properties that shield them from heat. I would like to believe that later. It is more interesting.

I was taking the pics on the sly…. as a result, they are BLURRY!

I was at the counter when I heard the cashier giggling under her breath remarking about the Ninjas. I didn’t understand what she was saying as she was speaking Serbian at the speed of light, but the word Ninja was repeated and I finally got it.  OMGosh!! the Nuns did look just like Ninjas!!

I must tell you, that these words are very rude in Serbian orthodox culture. I hope this will not be an offensive, but humorous post. I have nothing but respect for these ladies.

Ninja Nuns sounds really cool too! Imagine the series that could be written about that. In my mind I can see a battle that is a mix of old world orthodox traditions mixed with the interworld battles of  Mortal Kombat. I must say, I fancy that idea more than a “Flying Nun”!

My only regret on this post is that I could not share the mental images I have conjured. Maybe this video will do as a substitute.

Ninja Nun video!

In my search for that video, I found that the idea of Ninja nuns is not a new one. There are LOTS of ninja nun videos. But nun are very good.

The only thing that could have made the sighting even better would have been to see those two in this VW hot rod that was sitting outside.

A worthy Nun-mobile if I ever saw one.

It was even sporting a Serbian flag. Now, all it needs is an Orthodox Cross painted on the hood and we are good to go! Oh, that and a Ninja Nun theme song!

On a very serious note:

My hope with this post is not to offend, but to look at nuns in a light that shows the good work they do. They are selfless in their work for God. This demands the respect you would have for a ninja’s training and skill.

I have studied Islam, and I do know the burka well. It is worn by the women for many of the same reasons the nuns wear similar costumes. At the root it is modesty and the desire not to draw attention to themselves. But, when they are out of their natural habitat, so to speak, it does exactly the opposite.