This week we had an early Monday morning start in Elbasan, which means that all the volunteers caught furgons heading toward the city in order to meet at the PC office by 8:30. For Chris and me this was a chance to actually sleep a few precious moments longer, since all we have to do is walk out front to the main road and flag down a passing van, rather than walk 30 minutes into Cerriku.
Sort of an odd schedule today, rearranged because the US ambassador was visiting in the afternoon. So we took language class in the morning, followed by some routine PC health and safety trainings, then after lunch we had an hour or so to speak with the ambassador. Very formal—we were told to dress up, stand when he enters/ leaves, and to address him as “Mr. Ambassador”. Not all too thrilling but I guess it’s a necessary gesture…
Hub days are a lot of fun—actually I think every day is a lot of fun. I must be one of the more positive people in the group because I am loving the experience so far. Even when I’m uncomfortable-- like in the cold, when its rainy, when people stare at us, when my host mom serves me French fries and potato soup for dinner at 10 pm, etc.—I still enjoy getting up for class, visiting Elbasan, hanging out at the posh internet café, grabbing lunch with the other PCTs. Maybe this is more like the day-time college social life I never had? Or maybe I’m content because I don’t think about where I will sleep at night or fret about money like I did while backpacking SE Asia? However it happens, I got the impression that other people are not adjusting as well to the set up here quite yet.
And on that note—I’ve got a nasty cold! My throat is sore and itchy, I’m producing enough phlegm to compete with the Ghostbusters 3 river of slime, and sometimes my voice runs out completely mid sentence. But it’s alright—I’ve got plenty of medicine in my kit and I think it will pass in a day or two. Maybe I should read more Harry Potter because despite all of the vitamins I take I don’t understand why my white blood cells haven’t mastered the defense against the dark arts.
I learned some imperative commands today: ‘hayde’ [hi- duh] = “come here”; ‘dil’ [deel] = “go out”; ‘hap’ = “open”; ‘mbyll’ [muh-bull] = “close”.
Oh yes and I don’t think I’ve described what the housing is like around here—there are tons of large half-finished homes scattered around the landscape. Most towns just pop up alongside the “main road” heading south from Elbasan. Restaurants and homes all looks the same—large, 2 or 3- story concrete structures usually painted soft colors. Inside they are all pretty similar: the doorway opens to the family room/ kitchen where the wood burning stove is. Everyone hangs out here because it’s the only warm place and they sure like their family-time! Homework is done while the TV blasts racey Shqiperi music videos and relatives shout loudly as they sip kafé and raki. I assume in the summer time (we’ve been told is blisteringly hot here because absolutely no one has A/C) it must be nicer to be in a concrete room, especially at our house where the upstairs has full window panels that we can open to get a breeze. Chris and I have the whole upstairs, which is another family room with TV and computer, a bedroom, a bathroom, and balcony. In the morning I walk outside and stretch myself awake as I peek out at the neighbors, fields, animals, and distant factories.
So that is my life so far in Albania! I’m sure there are tons of details I’ve forgotten because they have become so natural to me already, but I will try to post pictures and maybe that will help you envision it….!