Marc Morell is French, who has been living in Macedonia for three years, although, as he told “Republika”, he came to the country for the first time in 1970. Mark has lived in several countries worldwide. He is a hydrologist researcher whose work from France has led him to Ohrid, through his mission for healthy environment. Working on a project that includes the Balkan countries, he met his wife Olivia with whom he lives in Skopje. He says the Macedonian people are very kind and always willing to help. He loves the quiet life and the conviviality that people have here. He loves Ohrid and he believes that it is a natural treasure to be cherished.
When did you first come to Macedonia?
In 1970, I came for the first time in Macedonia, crossing Yugoslavia after travelling in Turkey and in Greece. But more recently, in 2002, working in France as hydrologist researcher of the Institute of Research for Development (IRD), I launched and coordinated an European project in the Balkan on Water resources, Climate change and related Environmental issues where Macedonia was one country partner. I decided to organize the first BALWOIS conference (Balkan Water Observation and Information System) in Ohrid in 2004. This conference had a large success. Following the need of such researchers meetings in Balkan, we organized four other conferences until 2012, with the strong support of Macedonian institutions, notably from the Hydrometeorological Services of Macedonia. All information and all 1850 papers are in free access on www.balwois.com. In the same time, I met my future spouse who was Meteorologist. It is the main reason why I am living in Skopje where I am retired for 3 years.
You come from a country with different culture and tradition than Macedonia. How did you manage to adapt to the life here?
I was born in Algeria where I spent my first 12 years before the independence. After my studies in France, I lived and worked abroad 30 years, in Africa, around the Mediterranean and in the French overseas departments. Thanks to these previous experiences and to the great hospitality of Macedonians, I have none difficulty to adapt myself. However, I must absolutely improve my Macedonian language speaking that is close to “Nula” ! I love Macedonia and one of my favorites hobbies is to take pictures of landscapes and architecture. Few years ago, I built the first Francophone website on Macedonia whose the Url is www.republiquedemacedoine.com . My pictures, maps and a lot of old documents downloaded from the “Bibliothèque Nationale de France” on the history of Macedonia are online in free access.
What is your opinion about the Macedonian people?
I appreciate a lot the kindness, the warmth and the conviviality of the Macedonians. They are particularly respectful with the foreigners and I feel my status of French citizen very often as an asset. As most of the people here, my Macedonian friends appreciate friendly meetings, music, art in general, traveling as well, etc., activities that we share as much as possible.
Do Macedonian people provide help when you need it ?
As soon as personal contacts are established with people, everybody here is ready to help you and to invite you very quickly for nice exchanges. All my friends coming from France are very surprised by the spontaneity of the Macedonian friendliness. If we are going forward to the negative aspects of the living in Macedonia, I regret few things. For example, the car drivers are very few educated. When you start up you car, you know that it is like a declaration of war with the other drivers. The armistice happens only when you arrive in your garage ! Otherwise and more important, the Macedonian institutions and citizens must provide efforts to preserve the fantastic natural environment from the garbage that we can find everywhere in Macedonia, especially in the rivers.
How much free time do you have to travel across Macedonia?
Because I have the chance to be retired, I like to travel a lot with my wife in Macedonia but also in the neighboring countries, especially in Bulgaria and in Albania where I have friends.
What do you think, which are the best places to visit in Macedonia?
I love to stay during the summer in Ohrid or more exactly in one famous campsite where I start to have very good friends. As hydrologist and sailor, I know a lot of rivers, lakes and seas but honestly none like Ohrid lake with a so beautiful, transparent and clean freshwater. Fantastic! I love also to stay in Galicnik where one of my friends is always ready to help me to discover its forest and its wild animals that died out in France as bears.
Do you like the Macedonian cuisine?
Coming from Algeria who was also under the Ottoman influence, I appreciate a lot the Macedonian food, its Mediterranean and Turkish influence.
Do you miss your home country?
Not really. Of course, I would like to see more often my family and my friends living in France. But fortunately they appreciate a lot Macedonia and its charms and they are coming very often. And with Internet, it is so easy to be in touch.
What are your plans, are you staying in Macedonia?
My life is in Macedonia and I absolutely do not want to leave. As foreigner I have no consideration on the political, social and economical aspects. However, as researcher involved in Environmental topics, I would like to see Macedonia working more deeply to offer to its inhabitants, its children and its visitors better living conditions with a better protection of its natural environment (forests, rivers and lakes).