Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Little Rain

"...Into each life a little rain must fall..." -Longfellow

In this case, both figuratively and literally.  I arrived in Macedonia just in time for a huge festival in the city center.  The square was full of people, there was music, food, random entertainment. Really great first night in the city.

The build, however, got off to a rough start. We had been told just recently that we would be working at the SOS Children's Village instead of Habitat's build site in Veles due to the fact that they were just about to wrap up Phase 1 of building and they weren't yet ready to begin Phase 2.  No problem, but when we arrived at the new work site, it seemed apparent that they were not ready for us. We are a pilot team for this new partnership between HFH and SOS so there are definitely some kinks to work out. The immediate need there is renovation of the bathrooms due to major leaking in all the houses, but it seems the contractor for that job was not secured in time.  Disappointing, but these things happen.  Instead, we split into two teams - one team is stripping the weathered windows/doors and re-caulking, staining and sealing them, and the other team is repainting the interior of two of the homes that need it the most.  Unfortunately, we got the impression that the house mothers were not expecting us and in all honesty, it was a little bit of an uncomfortable and frustrating start. The second day on the build was a bit better, but working where people are already living brings on an entirely different set of challenges than a normal HFH build. Thankfully, our team is great and we have been trying our hardest to be open minded and accommodating. 

In addition to a rocky start on the project, my tooth started randomly hurting the night before. By the end of that day, I was really uncomfortable, taking ibuprofen regularly, and to add to my unhappy state it was raining fairly heavily most of the afternoon/evening. That night the pain was unbearable and I decided I would need to go see a dentist the following day. Not high on my list of things to do while traveling, but the 600 mg of ibuprofen that I was supposed to be taking every 8 hours was wearing off in about 1 hour. Not good. Interestingly enough, I found out that Macedonia is a destination for dental work (weird).  Many people come here for veneers, etc because the work is good and very inexpensive. There were several dental clinics listed on the US Embassy website so I picked one and hoped for the best.

I was able to get an appointment this morning, and the English-speaking dentist was great.  She did x-rays and determined that there was no infection in the bone, which was exactly what I wanted to hear because the idea of doing my first ever root canal in another country was not exactly appealing. It appears to be an infection in the tooth, so she prescribed amoxicillin and I headed back out in the rain (which at this point was really making me miserable) to fill the prescription.  It will take at least 24 hours for the antibiotics to start making a difference so I am in for another long night but at least now there is an end in sight. Let me just add that I went to the dentist right before I left for a cleaning and exam to make sure that this didn't happen.  One of the lessons I am learning while traveling is that there are some things you just can't control.  (Interesting little side note: The cost of my exam, which included two x-rays, was $19.  The cost of Amoxicillin for five days was $2.)

Ok, back to the build.  My team is made up of 11 people from the US, the UK, and Switzerland. Many of them have traveled extensively so we've had some really great dinner conversations and I'm learning a lot.  Speaking of dinner, the food here is incredible. It is similar in many ways to Greek food, and there is an abundance of fresh vegetables due to the fact that Macedonia used to be the agricultural source for all of Yugoslavia (22 million people) and are now the source for their country only (2 million people).  Remember my complaint about no salads or vegetables? Yeah, I've made up for that here. 

So I am off to bed in the hopes that I can sleep for more than an hour at a time.  The forecast for tomorrow is supposed to be clearer and I am hoping that will be the case both figuratively and literally.

~ N