Keep it clean
Writes: Denko Maleski
Ezerski Lozja (Lake Vineyards), a settlement by the lake on the road to Ohrid, where my father’s house is, has always been a paradigm for our progress. Stagnation could be the right word to describe that state. The settlement seems to be locked in time. Over the past decades, the Macedonian transition to capitalism and the rule of law have shown their chaotic face here. Suddenly, probably as a consequence of the process of returning the nationalized property, a wired or powerful iron fence would sprout with which someone would block the Lake. Some time later, the fence would be gone. A building would start be building near the lake, and it would stop. The situation with the two existing tourist objects, Eurohotel and the AS camp is a story for itself. Paradoxically, but the idea of integration of the Macedonian into the European hotel business collapsed with the collapse of socialism. Namely, as part of some kind of hotel consortium, the owners of the apartments could with exchange go to other parts of the world where there are Eurohotels. We never won those tourist heights, but the hotel full of guests had restaurants, a bar, a children’s playground and a well-stocked grocery store. And cut grass. However, lost in the transition, Eurohotel ended up as in Carpenter’s films of fear and horror. As the years of transition were passing, unresolved property-legal relations led to the disconnection of electricity and water, and to the death of this tourist facility. On the ads, the apartments were sold for little money. Last year, I understood that some of the owners decided to take the fate in their hands and give back the life of the Eurohotel. But it seems that the tangled relationship between the owners and the sanctity of private property that we declared in the early nineties hamper the rapid rise without agreement. From this example, I understand that we need not only a legal state, which we still do not have, but an efficient state of law, for which we will dream for a long time. Of course, an agreement between the interested parties resolves everything, but the agreement is our weak national and international point.
The situation is similar with the AS camp where there were trailers of numerous companies from Macedonia, some in the decay phase, where their workers used to stay. The unresolved property and legal relations in the privatized camp, for thirty years now, have been hindering the camp spread over a beautiful location between the two towns, to become a tourist destination of the first category. Unfortunately, the price for this is for poor enterprises and their trailers to be removed. The new wooden houses in the camp and the paved track made in the part in which the caravans from the Netherlands arrive with their beautifully equipped trailers every year, announce the future time.
A couple from the Netherlands who refuses to travel by the caravan, but want to plan their time themselves, ended up in our garden for some coffee. Sitting beside the wire fence at the camp, they kindly smiled and greeted the walkers on the trail from Struga to the river Sateska, the largest polluter of the Lake. The invitation to have coffee was immediately accepted. What are their impressions of the stay in our country? Not to be painful for us, out of courtesy, they said that France had been dirty until a decade ago, but that it has been cleansed today. They think that we need to do more to improve the hygiene in the country they pass, because a lot of garbage is seen.
In my political texts I quote an American author who writes that in our lifetime the quality of the political system in which we live will not significantly improve. Now I know that in our lifespan neither the quality of hygiene will change significantly. There is also a parallel between the two situations. The rubble scattered everywhere in nature and the rubbish we see in politics in the form of a lie and indecent rhetoric or crime and corruption. Both rubbishes, the real and the political, are hard to clean. I know this from my personal experience. I have written a lot about the rubbish in politics. And it is still here. Just like the rubbish along the road to the otherwise beautiful hiking trail from Struga to Sateska. This year it seems to be a bit better, but we are still far from the Netherlands. In twelve months we will find whether this progress, which includes the renewed road network around the settlement and in the city of Struga and the paved path, will add another year or we will fall back again.
In the days of socialism, an adult from Struga with his horsecar walked daily along the coast and collected the waste of the reckless citizens. To my remark about their irresponsible behavior, he would say: “If they do not throw it, I will lose my job”. In recent years, there is no one who systematically collects waste along the road and on the coast. Struga’s sister-in-law from the Czech Republic says that you should not look down but only up, at the sky and the beautiful lake. That is the solution. Of course, this is not the solution. The solution is to continually fight rubbish in politics and in nature. In politics we need a system of accountability that will clean up from corrupted ones, in nature, a system of education nature to be preserved from early age and a well-organized communal system with more employees on the field than in office buildings. A developed communal system for the whole country is what we need. I understand from the report of one NGO that only 50 per cent of the population is covered by organized collection of waste. What do you think, what does the other half do with its waste? Keep it home?
Today my grandson Mateo, who is four and a half years old, had the first lesson called nature protection. With a big black bag we cleaned the beach that our neighbors and relatives, Strezovci, had already cleaned it up of a terrible amount of waste for the May holidays. I could not explain to my grandson that a battle without end was waiting for him. We can only hope that more people will join. Just like that lonely runner along Vardar, who, with his huge black bag, cleans the path he runs on. Whose is the initiative, I ask. My, personal, he responds. Nothing less than the changed consciousness is the guarantee that we will be able to clean our country. A mind slowly changes. However, this is not the mind of the man of a few decades ago who, referring to me as an employee of a Struga communal company, ordered me to grab the rake and clean the beach where he was sitting with his family with slices of watermelon around them. My reaction to his command? It was long ago, but I remember: I did not argue, I just fulfilled his order without a word. Just to be clean. Why? Well, because of one previous experience. It was a beautiful spring morning in Skopje and I tried to have an argument with a man who dropped burek greasy paper on the already washed sidewalk at the Goce Delcev Bridge. At the call to the corpulent citizen of Skopje to take the paper that “fell” and which I gave him, he was amazed, good-natured and completely honest and he told me that he did not need it. I will never forget his look: good, like the eyes of an ox.
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