Landslide, Landslide, Avalanche, Landslide


I had been planning to write something about traveling in Macedonia, but instead this will be one more concerned with not traveling.

Last Thursday we had an avalanche/landslide on the D. – M. road. This is, for those not familiar with the roads of Macedonia, the only road that leads into my site from the north – it’s how I go to Skopje. If I want to travel pretty much anywhere I first need to go to Skopje, a three-hour ride from my town. There’s one road that leads out of town to the south and runs to Struga. So, when you have an avalanche onto that one road leading to Skopje, plans can get changed.

This Tuesday was the Strumica Carnival, which I’d been planning to go to for a couple months. On Saturday, when Thursday’s landslide still wasn’t clear, I had pretty much realized I wouldn’t be able to get to the carnival, barring a long and painful journey down to Struga and then up to Skopje, where I would catch a bus to Strumica. (Something like ten hours of traveling.) The combi out of Debar did begin running again on Monday, but I had decided I should stay here in Debar and focus on work, since I missed a full week recently when I had the flu followed by a respiratory infection.

This turned out to be one of the few genuinely, undeniably good decisions I’ve made so far in Macedonia.

At 3 P.M. this Wednesday we had our second landslide of about the same size as the first. That’s 150,000 cubic meters of dirt and assorted crap, if I remember correctly. At 9 P.M. Wednesday the third landslide/avalanche. Then, at 8 A.M. this morning the fourth.

Suffice it to say that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. And that I’m happy a new package, full of peanut butter cups and spices, arrived yesterday, in that slight gap between avalanches.

If there are any geologists out there reading this, I apologize for not knowing what to call the falling of all these rocks and dirt and snow on our road.

All these avalanches are about 30 minutes outside town, so I can’t get there to take a photo. One of another volunteer’s friends got out there and took a few photos of the first landslide, though, so here they are. That mound of dirt and snow used to be our road.

Also, the next time New Jersey gets two epic snowstorms in one week, I’m not going to laugh at my family. I’ve learned my lesson…


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