While traveling, we cross the borders of not only other countries but also our own. Macedonia is the perfect land for us, volunteers, to see the many wonderful places it offers us. The location also makes it an ideal starting point to visit other Balkan countries. These factors make us want to travel whenever possible and meet people during our volunteer work. All this to further develop, open to other people, because we are all different, learn new things from them, which will allow us to exceed our internal boundaries!
As a Polish proverb says, all good things come to an end quickly. In Macedonia, words took on a new meaning, thanks to the summer that … has almost passed. For this reason, we first wanted to catch as much sun as possible and chose the directions where we could relax on the beach and feel the Mediterranean breeze. After seeing many famous places, we decided to focus on the less known ones that are equally beautiful but are not as commercialized. And I must admit that such places make a greater impression on me because we have no greater expectations of them, and as it turns out, you can surprise and love them!
As volunteers, we work five days a week, so the best time to travel is on the weekends. Overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city, we decided to go on a one-day trip, where we would be able to commune with nature. In Macedonia, many things happen spontaneously. Having been here for a while, we managed to adapt to it, and those were our plans. But the best part of all of this is that there will always be someone to join. People in Macedonia are so open and pleasant that it’s hard to be alone here. A few weeks ago, Niina from Finland joined our organization, she came for a two-month project. Together with her and my countrymen from Poland, who you probably already know from previous editions of our magazine, we decided to go to Kokino. On Saturday, September 4, after a decent breakfast, we left the apartment around 10.00 and went straight to the bus station. Due to the fact that the trip was not planned, we were worried about the availability of tickets, especially since it was the weekend. Our direction was the third-largest city in Macedonia, i.e., Kumanovo, the starting point to the observatory. We bought the tickets without any problems. It turned out that the bus connection Skopje – Kumanovo is very good. We were also positively surprised by the low-ticket prices. We waited about 20 minutes for the bus. Kumanovo is only 39 km away from Skopje, but we drove there in about 40 minutes.
The first meeting with this city is at the bus station. The station building was very small, but it was clean inside. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the immediate surroundings, as the station area looks like a huge garbage can. Our plan was to go straight to the village closest to the trail leading to the summit. Unfortunately, it is not easy. That day, only two buses traveled there from Kumanovo, one of them was every morning, and we would have to wait a few hours for the next one. Once again, we were saved by the hospitality and openness of Macedonians. The cashier from the ticket office at the station spoke English very well, so we had no problems communicating. We told her where we wanted to get. Wanting to help us, she asked other station employees about other options for getting to Kokino. After a few minutes of waiting, she returned to us and said that she called her friend, who might come pick us up in a moment, pick us up, wait for us, and drive us back to Kumanovo. In Poland or Finland, it is not obvious that people are so interested in others, so we thought it would cost us a lot. As it turned out, the driver took only enough to pay for the gasoline. The road from Kumanovo to the village at the foot of Kokino was an amazing experience. Taxho, because that was the driver’s name, told us about the places we passed, turned on traditional Macedonian and Turkish music. His energy was amazing. You could see that helping us gives him great pleasure.
Kokino is located about 19 kilometers northeast of the city Kumanovo, in what is administratively known as the municipality of Staro Nagornicane. It was discovered in 2001 by Jovica Stankovski from the National Museum of Kumanovo- Macedonia. At first, nothing about this site blends in with the surroundings. Standing tall in the middle of nowhere, it appears quite outlandish. One look, and it is easy to see why.
Kokino, with its dual function as a scientific and ritual site, is of great interest to archeoastronomy researchers, who study the sky-based rituals of ancient societies through the lens of anthropology and modern astronomy.
Occupying almost 5000 square meters, it rests on two scale-like established platforms beneath the mountaintop Taticev Kamen with an altitude of 1013 meters. The entirety of the observatory is volcanic rock. But carving and shapes alone, though interesting, are of significantly less value when compared to what this site once served for.