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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Camping in Puke

So I haven’t updated on the last excursion we took, 2 weekends ago. Chris and I boarded a night bus bound for Tiranё, arriving around 6 am (and promptly crashing on a park bench until the city woke up), then made our way north into the mountains once again to Pukё. Our gracious hostesses—Karen, Patricia, and Jenny—welcomed us once again to their tiny little town, this time with the intention of a larger party of people camping out in the woods. Now, when one tells an Albanian that they are going to, or returning from Pukё, their reaction is always the same: “oh bo bo! Pukё?!” (insert sound of head slapping), which is sort of like saying that you’ve come all the way to America to visit Leakesville, Mississippi, or some other unknown po-dunk place. But in fact, this is a deceptive prejudice because the northern region and the people there are quite lovely, the air is fresh, and the scenery is beautiful! And despite Pukё’s small size (2 streets long, lined by pallatit, or apartments) the three girls get along so well with the community and seem to know (and be loved by) everyone.

So, a large group of us volunteers gathered in the square to make our trek into the woods, after a slightly laborious climb far from the city and up to a plateau, we set up tents and lit a roaring fire. Karen, our guzhinarё- extraordinaire, had ingeniously prepared a feast of chicken and/ or veggie packets to roast on the fire, a delicious Mediterranean orzo salad, and a pasta salad, plus people stocked up on drinks and we even roasted s’mores! It was spectacular.

This weekend, after one weekend of rest (which was somehow sinfully delightful to laze around doing absolutely nothing, without any obligations) we invited volunteers to travel south, and make a day trip to the spring of Syri i Kalter (The Blue Eye). [that is the beautiful, crystal clear pool of freezing water we took Arlene to] We semi-picnicked with a small group (10 or so) and then all stayed the night in Delvina, crashing in the apartments of two girls from that town. Chris and I hitchhiked back in the morning, catching a lift with one man who is a professional polyphonic singer ( who gave a us a DVD of his Shqiptare ensemble, and hopefully we’ll see his group perform at the traditional music festival at the castle in the end of September…
I’ve been thinking lately that I haven’t really posted much on my marathon training. But, since it’s such a big part of my life and daily routine right now I ought to! I’m still preparing to run the Athens-Marathon (yes, the original, to Marathon, Greece) in November. I’ve only got a few weeks of solid training left, as I need to make 3 or 4 of the longest runs before tapering down at the end of October. My routine has been to go straight out of the New Town and run to the villages near our great mountain, Lunxhёrri. Two weeks ago I capped at 17.4 miles, my longest run yet, and this week I hope to stretch to 18 or 19. After my runs in the morning (waking at 5 am before the sunrise, that way I can get home by 8 or 8:30 and prepare for work), I stretch, shower, eat muesli, and ice my knees. Maybe I need to lose a few pounds and it will lessen the burden on my knees, because they have gotten really sore and creaky. I don’t want to screw them up permanently, and I really hope the pain doesn’t last. I’ll write again later to let you know how excruciating the 20 mile run goes… ;)

And, as a final note, I would like to remind any and all readers here that if they have any desire to send a care package our way that would be greatly appreciated!!
Some goodies that might be thrown in are:

*Packets of sauces from all those restaurants you hit up: soy sauce, hot sauce, splenda, whatever strikes your fancy and can be dropped into your purse or pockets—these aren’t desperately desired but its fun to get them in an envelope, like a bonus

*Gum, mints, and other fun treats

*Organic/ whole grain bars

Really anything…
Our postal code is:
Chris Hassler
Zyre e Koordinimit
Pazar i Vjeter
Gjirokastёr, Albania

Thanks and look for more pictures soon to come!

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