Local Time: 11:45 AM
Time Zone: Central European Time
How far did we travel this week? 117 miles
How did we get around this week? I got around by taxi and bus and also by foot.
What was the most interesting place we visited this week? Matka Canyon
This Week’s Travel News: (short story about what happened this week)
I woke up early Saturday morning to catch a taxi to Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia. The early spring sun warmed me while the taxi zipped down the highway. I was on a mission. This would be my first time rock climbing outside. I met up with a group at the US Embassy and we continued on to Matka Canyon. In order to access our climbing site, we had a 45-minute hike through the canyon. The steep mountain rock faces loomed all around us as we trudged on. We hiked up and up, and I started to wonder if I would have enough strength to climb when we reached the top. My legs were already tired and a little bit shaky from the hike.
Moving forward, though, my excitement gave me new strength. As we drew closer and closer to our climbing site, a small Orthodox monastery tucked away in the mountains slowly came into view. It was behind this church, our guide from the embassy told us, where we would set up for our rock climbing adventure and meet our Macedonian rock climbing guides. When we reached the end of our hike, we took a rest and had a little snack. I brought peanuts and dried apricots.
While we ate, we talked and took in everything around us. We sat near the Orthodox monastery in a small, open green field surrounded by rocky cliffs. From our spot, a dramatic scene unfolded. Here we could see far, far below us into the canyon. At the bottom of the canyon was a lake, and on this lake was something that looked like a small toy building. This building, I found out, is actually a restaurant that people can get to only by boat or kayak. While we waited for our guides to set up the ropes for climbing, I watched as boats came and went from the restaurant.
Once the ropes were ready for climbing, our group put on harnesses, helmets and climbing shoes. We had some serious rock climbing ahead of us, and we had to be safe! In rock climbing two people are always involved. There’s the climber, but there’s also another person called a belayer. The belayer is connected to the climber through a system of ropes and makes sure the climber is safe and won’t fall all the way down if he or she slips.
When it was my turn to climb, one of our Macedonian guides helped to tie my harness into the ropes and made sure my helmet was secure. I then stepped closer to the huge rock wall in front of me and looked up. I cried “Climbing!” and my belayer encouraged me with “Climb on!” At first, I was a little nervous. I moved slowly from one rock to the next making sure my feet were firmly planted on the rock surface. Little by little I moved carefully upward. Reaching the top was amazing: The view was breathtaking! It was totally worth the climb.
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 1
What is the air temperature right now?
47 degrees Fahrenheit.
How was the weather this week?
The weather in Macedonia has been very nice, and this past week was no exception. We had a few rainy days, but each time after rain new flowers appear and everything becomes highlighted in bright, beautiful greens.
What animals did we see this week?
Lately I’ve noticed a lot of interesting shells that I think belong to snails. They are very beautiful and almost look like shells you could find at the ocean. It’s funny though, because Macedonia isn’t really close to any oceans.
What was the coolest thing we saw in nature this week?
On our climbing trip, I saw many beautiful butterflies gracefully fluttering from flower to flower.
This Week’s Nature News
Spring is here in Štip, Macedonia. Even though we’ve had several rainy days, the temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s. That’s a lot warmer than my home state of South Dakota! In South Dakota and other parts of the Midwest, school has been canceled due to lots and lots of snow! I’m very thankful for the beautiful weather here in Štip. We didn’t have very much snow at all this winter, and this makes it much easier to get around the city. How has the weather been in your city?
What music did we listen to this week?
I have a very eclectic taste when it comes to music. By eclectic, I mean that I enjoy listening to lots and lots of different kinds of music. There’s a lot of great music in the Balkans too. Whether it’s traditional Macedonian folk songs or great hits from the States, you can find it here.
What activity was the most fun this week?
Rock climbing was hands down the most enjoyable thing I participated in this week!
What did I read this week?
I actually didn’t read very much this week except for a few news articles. I like to read the news in order to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world. I specifically like reading news articles about things that are happening in nature or new technologies being invented. For example, have you heard of the new Google glasses? If you have, would you wear them? I also really enjoy reading non-fiction and mystery or fantasy novels. I think I’ll start reading a new novel soon. Stay tuned!