If you’re looking for an authentic, middle-of-nowhere, back-to-nature, where-the-hell-am-I, give-me-a-break-you-people-don’t-actually-live-like-this, it-must-be-a-movie-set kind of experience, then seek out the Klepalo Sheep Farm near Berovo. I’m still not sure the folks who welcomed us here weren’t actors.
The farm is at the top of a hill, at the end of a rough, muddy road which our little rental car was unable to negotiate. So we parked and walked up, every step taking us back one year into the past. By the time we arrived at the farm, it must have been around 1824.
We were greeted at the gate by a smiling woman who seemed to be anxiously awaiting our arrival, overjoyed that, finally, we had returned. She had either mistaken us for some long-lost cousins, or this was all part of the act. Or she really was that friendly.
She asked if we were hungry, and without waiting for an answer, promised to whip something up. In the meantime, she suggested that we take a stroll in the hills surrounding the farm. Sounded like a plan. Within 30 seconds of setting out, who crosses our path but an old shepherd leading his braying flock across the hills. Suspicious, I spun around, expecting to catch a furtive camera crew filming it all. Such romantic scenes don’t just happen like that! But I was starting to suspect that, in Klepalo, maybe they do.
Our walk took about 45 minutes, and brought us through some achingly gorgeous land. We crossed a river, passed a small trout pond, and entered a forest where loggers were at work gathering timber for the winter. Back at the farm, we had a chance to tour the barns, where we found a couple puppies so young they hadn’t yet opened their eyes. We were playing with them, when the cook called us into the kitchen to show us how she prepared fresh cheese.
Lunch was wonderful — this is food at its most organic. The vegetables which made up our salad came straight from the garden to our plates, and the cheese was fresh and delicious. We had homemade soup and grilled pieces of pork which had been stored in salt, and washed it all down with the house rakija. Every time something new arrived on our table, the cook made a point of peering around the corner to see how much we were enjoying it.
We only spent the morning at the Klepalo Sheep Farm, but enjoyed ourselves immensely. This is the perfect Macedonian experience: a working sheep farm in the middle of the most remote and photogenic nature imaginable. And if the welcome they gave us was any indication, they love having guests. Should you have the chance, it’s worth making an effort to visit Klepalo.