The season has changed. The long, hot summer is gone and there is a crispness to the morning and evening air. The swallows of summer have flown on and the crows have returned. October 15 is the date that Skopje's central heating system begins working. It was on for that one cool day, but now the days are so warm that it is off again.
And like the returning crows, no actual comparison intended, the women of IWA have returned from their summer vacations. I've joined a cooking group which met for the first time last Thursday, and Monday hikes are back.
The smell of roasted corn on the cob has been replaced by the aroma of roasting chestnuts. Our summer clothes are packed into a suitcase because the next time we need them we will be in California. The new Skopje City Mall with a Carrefour store opened about three weeks ago and is attracting hordes of shoppers. Friday evening was the start of the Skopje Jazz Festival 2012.
The building and statue boom initiated by the Skopje 2014 plan continues with new building construction and the installation of new statues while older statues and buildings are neglected. More dirt has been dumped into the River Vardar in the government's continued effort to make Skopje the ugliest city in the world albeit with the most statues.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in foreground) with a new pile of dirt
A portion of the green area near our building has just been cleared, and now it is surrounded by a construction fence. A10-story city administration building will be built. The sidewalk and lighting have been removed, but so far, the fish remains. A baroque-style 6-story parking garage will be built over the present asphalt parking lot in front of our building. There are so few green spaces in Skopje, and next year there will be even less.
How much will the Skopje 2014 project cost? In 2009, the government of Macedonia announced Skopje 2014 and its 80-million-euro-price tag. According to an investigative article in the Pristina Insight newspaper, there have been many addendums to initial contracts (some of which are now missing) bringing the current expenditure to about 200-million euros. The opposition party claims the new price tag is over 350-million euro.