Plaku is the shqip term for ‘old man’. Plaka is ‘old woman’, but I have many more years before he can call me that. We celebrated Chris’ 26th birthday in Delvine, a small hidden town about 1.5 hours south of us, in the company of our friends Monica (Del), Alexi (Del), Allan (Gjiro), Greg (Gjiro), and Meghan (Ksamil). Monica put together a delicious Mexican-Albanian style feast of beans, salad, spit roasted chicken, fruits, and to top it all off: Betty Crocker’s very own Funfetti cake. Ahhhh cake in a box. America.
On Saturday afternoon we went walking out of town (not far) to an old mosque that has been kept up very well. There is a nice woman who lives adjacent to it and owns a cafe next door. She maintains the mosque and surrounding grounds and opened it up to our posse, happy and excited to meet a group of shqip-speaking Americans. Especially Monica-- I've decided its her dimples Albanian women seem to fall in love with, or perhaps the way she's mastered the sideways head bob to indicate 'oh yes of course I agree'... ;)
View from the outside
Monica and Alexi are participating in the Model UN conference with a group of students from their high school, which will take place next weekend. Their group was chosen to represent Vietnam, and will be debating their resolutions with other Albanian students regarding Climate Change, Anti-Trafficking, and Deforestation. Because of their newfound interest in Vietnam, Monica asked Chris and me to give a presentation based on our trip there. We ended up showing them some photos, a small peek into modern culture and geography, which seemed to open their eyes to a larger world beyond the policy decisions they have researched for months on the internet. The next day we went back and actually stood in as 'expert witnesses' in order to allow them to practice debating and prepare for outside questions, which was a lot of fun and hopefully helps them in Tirane!
This is from Day 1 practice session, there are actually 13 kids in the group. But you get the idea.
Ahh well the trip was short but fun, its nice to get out of Gjirokaster every once in awhile. We took a 7 am bus back over the mountain on Monday morning, arriving just in time to march into the office. I am a little 'merzit' in my office, having "communication" problems with my counterpart. I can't spill the beans publicly but oh man sometimes its hard not to spontaneously combust... We're working on a sexual health seminar with the university students and well.. I just can't even explain why its so frustrating to try and get people to think outside the box. 'Nuf said.
Oh yes, and Monday morning the guys in Chris' office organized a party in his honor-- complete with a breakfast shot of raki! [this is the traditional Albanian moonshine]
And later that night Hajri hosted his own party
This is Chris, Hajri, Adrien (waiter and friend), Allan, and Greg
Now its back to the grindstone.. I'm more interested in working on environmental awareness projects and March is here! Now how can I get the ball rolling....?