They didn’t need to say more. I bought my mini-bus ticket and 3 ½ hours later I’m here. Ironically for an artist, I'm in the darkness, but not for too long. Morning will come.
Jance is a traditional Macedonian village. It’s located a mountain ridge, more or less, away from Albania in the heart of Mavrovo National Park. Living in Skopje, the Capital, I've missed the sights, sounds and people of village life. In these days, urban people are more cautious and suspicious while village people are curious and welcoming.
As I look out my window by dawns light, a rooster scratches in a garden below me. A man begins to chop wood even though today will be warm by November standards. A few others are walking around a home that’s in disrepair or is it partially restored. They look like their making an inspection before the day begins.
This is an ecological practice combining modern design with traditional construction methods.
He tells me that he would like to restore the whole village. If you're interested, he conducts seminars to learn the techniques.
After an ample breakfast with village fresh eggs and homemade jams and bread, I venture out on my own trek. I shorten the walk by taking a taxi to a neighboring village where I pick up a trail to a waterfalls.
But unlike my trek in Maine many years ago, this adventure has a well-marked trail. Don't worry, brother Warren, I won't get lost this time!
Ahhhh...There’s something quite special about golden yellow trees, a cool breeze, leaves fluttering to ground and a sky so very blue.
It makes you grateful to be alive.
I make my way up and down yet another incline. As I cross the bridge I see it. Before me is a most beautiful water falls.
It thunders down from a slit in the mountain. I'm thinking it's about 35 feet high, maybe more. I stand at it’s base mesmerized. I feel the mist as it splashes into the pools. It's a hidden treasure deep in the mountains of Mavrovo National Park. I'm not in Washington, DC....that's for sure!
We pull out our electronics and show each other pictures. I start with my grandchildren and he with his family. We move on to pictures of traditional restoration practices and I show pictures from my trek. We are having a great time together. Can't you tell?
He has many interesting collections. Here's a sampling.
Organic foods are served daily. Homemade jams are part of every meal. Bunches of lavender and other herbs scent the air.
The next morning I stand up early. I want to watch the sun slowly spread across these mountain ridges. I think it's a gentle way to start a day. I'm not disappointed.
I hear a crowing. Our rooster is awake and letting the village know it's time to get up. Soon life will stir as it has been doing for centuries in this place. I sit on the balcony attached to my room and soak in the experience.
Here's a recipe for ajvar. http://diethood.com/roasted-red-pepper-relish-ajvar/. It's a traditional Macedonian roasted pepper relish. It's made every September and is delicious. Give it a try and then come to Macedonia for the real thing, made in a village.