Sorry for the long delay between posts! I know I’m sounding like a broken record at this point, but it’s been a super busy month once again with little free time to sit down and write. But I’m happy now to be back and writing about the amazing month I’ve had!

From where I left off last time it was the middle of November. It feels as though this Autumn has lasted a lifetime, and for much of the last two weeks of November I was really missing the snow back home and the escalating anticipation of Christmas on the horizon. Instead it was relatively dreary for the rest of November, with a week of rain on and off and temperatures hovering in the low single digits. Despite the depressing weather we were able to make a few outings, this time to places relatively close to Banská that we hadn’t found time to see yet. This started out with Špania Dolina!

Špania Dolina is an ancient mining village located only about 15 minutes by car from Banská. It has extreme historical significance as it is believed to be one of the first settlements in the area, and prehistoric mining tools have been found there that date all the way back to 2000-1700 BC. It was a significant mining site for much of the Bronze Age, and artifacts containing bronze from this area have been traced all the way to the Middle East and the Balkans. We spent much of the day walking around the picturesque wood-roofed buildings and the church, and then headed down to a replica of an old schoolhouse, where we were able to draw and write with a traditional feather and ink!

Only a few days later, I celebrated my 3 months here in Slovakia. It’s crazy to think that 1/3 of my exchange is already done, when it seems like it’s gone by so quickly! I really still cannot believe how lucky I am to have seen and been so many places. I am grateful every single day that I have this opportunity, and will never take it for granted.

To celebrate this momentous day in my exchange, I made my Ukrainian ancestors proud- by making Kielbasa! (Or Klobasa in Slovak). We headed to Zvolen city, only 15 minutes from Banská, and got to work right away cutting up the meat. Even if normally I would have been a bit (maybe a lot) grossed out, I knew an experience like this wouldn’t come around very often, so I got right in and helped. We cut meat for about 3 hours, before going arms deep in the meat barrel to mix in the spices and garlic (a LOT of garlic). As you might be able to tell from the picture, my hands and fingernails were stained red for quite a few days afterwards, haha. After we mixed in the spices with the meat, they put it all through the grinder before heading to the casing station. It’s a good thing I’m a patient person, because we were tasked with unknotting the sausage casing- an incredibly frustrating and seemingly impossible task. However, with a little help and a lot of fiddling, we were able to get it all sorted out, and by the end of the night had an entire rack of Kielbasa ready to go in the smoker. It was such an interesting experience- and after trying the finished product a few days later- incredibly rewarding, too!

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