Macedonia – Why?

The question: Why did you, go to Macedonia (and Albania, more about that later)? And that has made me thinking. How do I choose the countries and places I visit? I have earlier said something about childhood facination coming from reading. I have to modify that, it is only partly true. The best answer I can give now is “curiosity”, I want to learn and experience places and people I don.t know much about.

It reminds me of one of my favorite anecdotes (of course from a book).  “A man was asked: What is the meaning of life?. He answered: I grew up in Crete during the Second World War and we were occupied by the Germans, and it was hard. In Crete we have a lot of fences made of rocks and stones. One day I found a piece of a mirror, probably from a German vehicle. I played with this piece and found that I could light up places inside the fences that were dark and did not get any sunlight. And that is the meaning of life, create light where it is dark.”

Well, back to Macedonia. What did I know about Macedonia before I went there? Not much, I knew the name of the capital, Skopje, and I knew it had been hard hit by an earthquake some years back. I knew that Alexander the Great and his faher Philip 2. were from Macedonia, but that was about it.

After arrival I quickly learned that the name Macedonia is not internationally accepted everywhere. For instance in UN the country is called FYROM (Former Yugoslavian Republic Of Macedonia), and that they were not on good terms with Greece. The part of the Balkans that historically has been called Macedonia can be divided in three: Northern which is now mainly part of Bulgaria, the middle which is the country of Macedonia, and the southern which is now part of Greece. So Greece claims that it is not right that one country can have the name Macedonia. There is also disagreement about Alexander the Great. He was blond with blue eyes which is found in Macodian Greece, and the Macedonians in Macedonia are of Slavic origin, dark hair and brown eyes. I bought a T-shirt with the names Skopje and Alexander the Great on, and I was told never to wear it in Greece!

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