Jasmina Tesanovic: Slaughter in the Monastery
(Photos by Bruce Sterling)
Ohrid, Macedonia -- August 31, 2006
by Jasmina Tesanovic
Again a long trip by bus, to Macedonia this time, the town of Struga on Lake Ohrid.
Thirty Women in Black and a young bus driver. It is his first drive, he is cautious and it is a good thing too, because he saves the lives of several reckless fools in the narrow mountain roads where the speeding fines exceed those in Los Angeles but slow down nobody.
We stop several times, for "a piss and a smoke." We have no local money, Macedonian denars, but we do have one dollar bills. A beer for a dollar, a piss for a dollar? The first one is cheap, the second tremendously expensive for such a rich natural environment with so few people.
This used to be my own country, and my heart still leaps at the beauty of these Yugoslav mountains. Only at the last moment did remember that I had to take my passport to Macedonia. America's Colorado was never this green. My ever-skeptical American friend says: it's pretty here, but I've seen prettier.
Still, Lake Ohrid is astounding even him. He says: this is ridiculously pretty. Green reeds are swaying on the wind and the waves are climbing the shore below our room. The glossy local postcards look dull compared to reality.
An Orthodox monastery stands next to our hotel on the lake. A sign says: in 1942 an illegal Communist meeting was held here. Tito's red star is still on the monastery and the nuns are proud of it. They also make an excellent brandy. My American friend asks how Macedonian-Orthodox nuns could also be revolutionary Marxist atheists. I have no explanation. Nobody is perfect, especially in Balkan history.
posted by Xeni Jardin