Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Long Day's Journey ... to the Winery

Short post today. It is late...

So today was blessedly cooler than yesterday. And the paths were less dusty... and although we did more miles (14 in total), it somehow didn't seem as hard.  We met a local guide called Joki (rakish looking bandit in the top photo) who was very active in helping the refugees when they came flooding through before the border closed, and with him, we walked the actual track beside the railway that they walked. For the last few days, we have been in the general area, following the general route, along broadly similar tracks -- but today, we walked in their footsteps.

In their footsteps we stopped at the railway station at Klisura, reading the graffiti on the walls of the now-shut-up building. Rana translated the words of homesick young men who used charcoal to mark their names, their towns, their dreams. A notice on the window called attention to the dangers of walking on the tracks: "Twenty-seven lives have already been lost!"

Then we passed through the Iron Gates and under the motorway bridge, and walked the last few miles into Demir Kapija, all of us finding it hard to imagine the tranquil village with its school and playground the setting for thousands of desperate families, in tents and without, as they passed through on foot, by bike and by train seeking sanctuary.

Demir Kapija is also the site of one of Macedonia's best known wineries, and only three of us sat out a well-planned tasting with delicious-looking nibbles and five local wines.  Then we boarded Roman and headed for our hotel not far from the city of Velles.

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