God is so good. There have been a few days that are just . . . days. Ya know? But then there are days when I'm just overwhelmed with how good God is and how blessed I am. I had those moments last year a lot. I've had a few already on this trip.
I missed my train yesterday. It didn't bother me too bad because I actually had reserved my hotel room for the extra night in the beginning and the lady at the train station had mentioned to me that I could use my train ticket anytime, not just the time that was shown. So...I had contingencies in place without even trying really.
And then today, of course I made the train this time. When I asked about where to get on the train, the attendant simply said, "platform 5". Ok...that much was easy enough. I found Platform 5 but there was no one directing traffic. My ticket didn't have a seat number or even a car number. There weren't many people on the train so I just went in and found a 6 seat compartment and made myself comfortable. I didn't have to check my backpack or anything...there was plenty of room in my compartment for it.
After about an hour, the train stopped at the FYROM Border (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Fortunately I had read already in one of my guidebooks that my passport would be taken and I could retrieve it by following the crowd at the border. Which I did. No problem.
We arrived in Skopje about 2 hours earlier than I thought we would. I was still in my compartment completely engrossed in a John Grisham novel when we arrived. I was probably the last person off the train because I didn't realize we were there already. I had to ask someone if we were there. They laughed at me!
I got off the train and made it to the street. I said a quick prayer and approached the 2nd cab driver I saw and told him I was looking for an inexpensive hotel. He got some translation help from a waitress that was working a nearby sidewalk cafe and then told me to hop in his car and off we went.
So here I am. At the Hotel Kapestic or something like that. It's a little pricier than I wanted (about like staying at a hotel in Wiggins or something). It's comfortable and quiet and has several English channels on the tv and it has wireless internet. It's within walking distance of a couple of restaurants- I got a pretty sorry hamburger and fries with mayanaise and ketchup. What's up with that?
And so I had these thoughts: Who am I? Who gets to do this stuff? I got off the train and felt like I was imbued with 9/10ths peace that passes understanding and 1/10th just don't really care. I was pretty much completely at-ease doing all this crazy traveling. Last year, arriving at the new places was one of the most stressful situations that I experienced. I guess it's different when you feel responsible for a bunch of other people... when you know they're looking to you to know what you're doing. On this trip I don't know what I'm doing and it really doesn't matter. If I screw up, I just backtrack. Worst case is I find a dark place and unfurl the sleeping bag.
Tomorrow my taxi driver is coming back to pick me up and take me to the train/bus station. I don't think there'll be any problem getting to Pristina and Peja. I have contacts waiting for me there and I'll get to go to church (presumably English speaking) on Sunday. I'm excited about that. I can already see a lot more English language/western influence here in Macedonia...the result of thousands of NATO peacekeepers that have been here for several years. That's good and bad I suppose. Makes like easier for me but they are not without their warts. Google it. Their presence in this part of the world was/is major fuel for the sex trafficking that's so prevalent in this region.