North Macedonia

Everything I had was in my bag, and it was gone. Someone mistakenly stole my pack off the bus and left in its place an identical Decathlon bag with a stranger’s gear. I noticed the guy with the matching bag as we boarded the bus and I thought Twinsies! But it didn’t occur to me that he might get off at a different stop and grab the wrong bag.
Adrenaline was coming out of my ears as I ran around the bus station looking for him, hoping desperately that he hadn’t disembarked in a previous city. Taxis and mini busses were speeding off in every direction, and he was nowhere in sight. We decided to stay at the station and wait an hour with the hope that he would notice he had the wrong bag and backtrack to the station. Aaron suggested emailing the hostels in the city with our contact info in case he checked in and mentioned the switch. I reminded myself that we had insurance. At least it hadn’t been a bag of clean clothes.
I sat down to wait and Aaron went to the bathroom. He came out with a confused-looking man and my backpack! Aaron had spotted him with my pack. The guy didn’t understand why Aaron was tugging him along and reluctantly followed until he saw me sitting with his pack. Still unconvinced, he opened my pack and saw my pink jacket and purple toiletry bag. He now understood the situation, and he apologized and thanked us for getting his pack for him. We were so relieved.
After a heart-pumping morning, we enjoyed the lakeside city of Ohrid and had our best pizza since Poland.

We arrived in Skopje to scorching heat so we put on our sunblock, got cash and lunch and stepped out into a thunderstorm. We hurried through the rain to get bus tickets for tomorrow, and once we reached the train station, lightning split the sky and thunder shook the ground. Less than a second separated the thunderclap from the flash. Twenty minutes later the sky was clear and the day was beautiful so we followed the river into town.
The city invested in a statue company in 2013 and in place of dividends, they get statues. At least I think that is why they have so many.

One of their favorites is an enormous monument of Alexander the Great riding a horse with battle scenes etched into the podium and lions standing guard. Greece has requested that North Macedonia put up a plaque explaining that Alexander was Greek and not at all Macedonian as a condition for them to join the EU. It is a touchy subject.

3 thoughts on “North Macedonia

  1. Barry Calfee

    I really enjoyed the pictures and story of the return of the backpack, I can just pictured Aaron
    hauling this guy out of the bathroom and the look of confusion until he saw your pack,
    makes for one more good story in your collection. David just made arrangements for me to meet him to Backpack in Rocky Mountain National Park in July about a week after the Holy Land trip.
    Figuring out shuttles, buses, ground transportation is a bit of a challenge, but nothing compared
    to what you have been doing. Can’t wait to see you in person.


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