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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oh the leaves are turning....!

This was a drawing Chris made during PST

Life in Gjirokaster is changing with the season--- officially we've said our goodbyes to the long, hot summer days and we're adjusting to life bundled up indoors in the cold. Although we're actually having a warmer and drier week, a thick layer of intimidating fog usually hovers across the city and blanketing the valley (where I run the the mornings, creating a bizarre and alt. reality) until mid-day...

Even more so, social life has shifted now that one of our sitemates ETed and was swiftly replaced by a PCV from Georgia, one of 8 who was evacuated a few weeks ago. His name is Allan, he's from Brooklyn, and he works with an NGO in the Old Town. Now Chris, Greg,and Allan work closely together, coordinating development projects, playing ambassadors between their offices who simply refuse to communicate (despite their similar goals), and generally brainstorming ways to improve tourism in the city. In the evenings they've come with me down to the new Red Cross Community Center to help paint pretty pictures on the walls, transforming the former disco into a place for disadvantaged youth and elders to congregate. They recently installed a few computers and couches, and when they open (tentatively scheduled for the end of October) I'm going to begin life skills and computer courses, and Greg may chip in some english classes.

I also completed the longest run yet--- 24 miles! I did it Saturday morning/afternoon (it took me 4.5 hours) and now I feel totally prepared for the big day in Athens... We were going to go hiking over the mountains to Delvine the next day, but (fortunately for me) the weather was cloudy and we didn't venture on the 16 mile jaunt uphill...! My legs were happy to rest. :)

We did celebrate a going-away party at Kujtim's, a veggie-option restaurant in the Old Town, in honor of our Austrian friend and long-time Gjirokaster resident who is moving up to Shkoder. Now both OSCE staff members are gone (Carla left last month), though he did get a replacement with whom we will hopefully bond. Its just unfortunate because these two people have worked here for quite awhile and were still in the process of introducing us to influential people and friends, now we're on our own.

On Monday we had an official pushim [holiday] so after I went running I hopped on a furgon to Delvine (closer to the coast, about 1.15 hours) to hang out and stay the night with Monica and Alexi. We made the traditional visit to their friend's house, where we were served plates of pomegranate-banana-apple-honey (great combo!) and a syrupy orange peel concoction. My landlady also makes these fruit syrups, hers with plums, though I've also seen watermelon peels, eggplant, and lemon. Pretty much anything can become syrup I suppose, and I presume these deserts are common throughout the region.

I'm going back this weekend, along with Megan, a PCV further south, to have an all-girl's party. I'm super excited! In the works are a Mexican feast, chocolate cake bakeout, endless conversation about how much we can't stand Sarah Palin (or McCaine), and a movie marathon.

So now the highlights I am looking forward to are: Girls' weekend in Delvine; Halloween bash in Elbasan (any costume ideas?); 2 a.m. election party on the 5th; and finally, running the marathon in Athens!!!
Never a dull moment. ;)

So on that note, I'd like to end this blog post with a call out for anyone who wants to help support me during my trip to Athens, and thus mental and physical health while serving my time as a volunteer here. ;) I approximate that with the registration fee (90 euro), bus (40 euro), and per diem (??euro), its going to be about $300 total. If you would like to send out an early Christmas gift or just because you love me, I would *greatly* appreciate donations made to my paypal account:

Thank you thank you and also thanks for reading! :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Courtney,

Good luck with the marathon! Hopefully you DO get that package I sent if you haven't received it already. Love ya!