Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A pint of Guinness in Kumanovo

After climbing all around Cacev Kamen (the second update will come as soon as a computer with a working USB port opens up . . .), the writer and I stopped at an Irish pub in the town of Kumanovo.

Kumanovo is a large town for Macedonia, but it's fairly small - let's say 15-25,000, maximum. (correction: Kumanovo actually has about 75,000). Interestingly, it was the base for defense contractors Brown&Root when they were supplying workers for the NATO operation in nearby Kosovo, and a large portion of the adult male population in Kumanovo is now working for Brown&Root in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was also quite a bit of fighting around Kumanovo when terrorists from the Kosovo Liberation Army slipped across the border and tried to stir things up in 2001 (thankfully without much success).

And, for reasons unknown even to him, an ex-Irish Army Special Forces officer decided to open up an authentic pub downtown. He and the writer are good friends, and the pub owner bought us a few rounds and told us some engaging stories in an accent that was harder to understand than Macedonian. Most involved struggles with the Albanian mafia and the Macedonian bureaucracy.

My favorite:

On the first night he opened his pub, neighboring bar owners attempted to intimidate him by throwing a Molotov cocktail through his window after closing. He walked out casually with a fire-extinguisher, doused the flames, and screamed, "You'll have to try harder than this, boys. It's just another f***ing day in Belfast!"

Well said.

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