If I had a super power it would undoubtedly be shapeshifting. Not only is it ridiculously easy to deceive people, escape social situations and go to the bathroom without paying for entry, but it would give you access to such a wealth of talents and customs. Kevin, the American I met in Ohrid, would fulfil his childhood dreams with the ability to fly. Speaking of dreams, we’re now in Macedonia’s capital and you really have to blink twice or three times to believe it’s real.
Skopje is recovering from an earthquake in 2008, and instead of revitalizing the city, the government chose to install hundreds of statues in an effort to boost tourism and the economy. In a sense, it worked, because people come here to see the statues, but the city is missing vital infrastructure and is resultantly the weirdest place I’ve visited. Hence I will ladle out my multicolored brain casserole with respect to the kitchen it was cooked in.
The city is strangely bleak, very quiet and creepy as hell. We decide we may as well engage in some typical tourist behaviour and give the lonely statues some attention. There are just so many of them that none seem to stick out. I’m reminded of Syndrome, the grossly misunderstood villain of The Incredibles, who says with a snicker, “When everyone’s super…no one is.”
The buildings are cheaply renovated with unstable foundations, cheap finishes, wires sticking out and surveillance cameras at every corner. Mother Theresa was born here, and if you walk past her house there’s a mosque at the rear. The long-standing feud with Greece means everyone wants a wedge of fame and the rights to the name. Bit of a circular blame game if you’re asking me—rarely worthwhile as I’m grossly uneducated in Macedonian politics. Just here for a good time, folks! says the ignorant tourist.
I spot a Snapchat flavoured ice cream which I’m sure tastes like dry-roasted youth and saucy unsolicited self-portraits. I try to avoid the kebab stand with flies that buzz buzz buzz in circles around a greasy meat cylinder. A pair of grimy hands carves off a piece to taste and I cast a worrying glance and shimmy away from my bold counterpart who ingests the indeterminate animal. Lunch is bread and oily baked beans that make my stomach scream. I approve the purchase of an antique match case for a girl Kevin’s seeing and I say he can light the fire of their love with it and serenade her with The Doors.
The city‘s pride and joy is a monument of Alexander the Great in the very centre, whose face appears on tourist mugs and magnets and tees. We take tips off Zoran, a friendly local guide whose loose dentures I try not to stare at. We had planned to do a walking tour but there were only two attendees and I was one of them. A furious ticket officer reprimands us for dodging the bus fare and we don’t repeat our mistake on the cable car to the top of the mountain. There’s a damp, grey view and an Australian in a pink t-shirt who offers me a taste of mint-flavoured Sprite (spoiler alert: it’s minty).
Both our left ankles ache in the same place after the hike in Ohrid which means it’s beer o’clock. We’re both quiet people so there are long periods of silence between topics. I splash out on a delicious $4 strawberry daiquiri, and we crack table peanuts like monkeys and avoid the rain.
In the morning we venture into the local markets near the Old Bazaar and try a creamy, rich Turkish coffee. I buy a shirt for the heck of it and haven’t worn it once. After Kevin leaves, I take a prime opportunity to do nothing in the place where there’s nothing to do except look at statues. I play Jenga with the guy that works at the hostel since there are no other guests. His dessert is digestive biscuit and milk soup and what an ingenious meal it is!
By far the most interesting city I’ve been to, it’s a very confused and confusing place bogged by political turmoil and halted in disbelief. The streets, although sparsely populated by people, are haunted by statues. Maybe this is a Medusa situation, and if so, I am offfffffff, preferably in eagle form.
Фраза на денот: Honestly what is going on
Музика на местото: Quiche Lorraine - The B-52’s