[We appear like sardines!]
Several friends came to visit this week, including the much-anticipated arrival of Kate and David, another PCV couple who lived and worked here for 2 years before us. They rented the same apartment space in the Hashorva house where Chris and I live now, and spent their service plowing a route for Gjirokastёr’s tourism offices, where Chris is assigned. All things being Albania, we have been constantly compared to Kate and David, so it was oh-so interesting to finally meet the infamous couple. They are of course wonderful, fun to hang out with, and graciously cleared up all sorts of questions we had been bottling up. They were obviously very close with the Hashorva’s, so we spent some time all together and then various moments scattered throughout their busy schedule of coffees with old pals. Some PCV friends of theirs—a couple who recently finished service in Romania—also came to visit, so we got to show them around and learn about their service and future plans. Word to the wise: joining the PC after you retire can be a fantastic adventure!
Hashorva's + Kate and David + me
Over the weekend we hosted a plethora of volunteers in our shpie, some from Vlore, Elbasan, students in Tiranё, and even some more PCVs from Romania. There were 11 of us total so we folded out all the couches and spread cushions across the floor-- hence me title about sardines. I’m really excited for my friends from Elbasan, who are going on a COS trip to SE Asia. They’re going to follow pretty much the same route Chris and I took before coming here, so we told them about some highlights /unfortunate downers and showed pictures, just to give an idea. The group from Romania was on a tour of the region (pushim!); with them we bounced ideas back and forth about PC projects (they have an environment sector instead of a health sector, so it was cool to learn how they are approaching issues there).
Circle-dancing at the GCDO!
Besides being a little cramped, we had a great time. After everyone left I had one night to totally decompress before more chaos began. Traveling for a few nights followed by a whole week of visitors makes me kind of crazy, not because I don’t LOVE people and friends (I do! Hajdeni!), but I just need some quiet “me” time, which I can’t really get too much here. It seems that with so many projects, coffee-dates (face time is a MUST), friends to meet, classes to teach, etc., I am feeling stretched pretty thin. As Hajri said about Greg: he’s a towel being squeezed dry by everyone (Greg is a superstar volunteer, absolutely devoting 23 hours each day to the Albanian community) which is how I feel sometimes, too, when I get requests to Please translate this grant or Oh can you teach me English? But I at least take time to go running (kind of selfishly maybe, though now that Hajri and I run together I consider it health promotion) and I do pass on occasional bar-nights with the boys to stay in and read. Anyways, summer is on its way, and that means we can start going to the beach and camping with friends! But for now, we’re basking in the glory of bright, sun-shiny days, fields of blooming red poppies, cherry blossoms, and the general awakening of spirits…
Berti, Greg, Allan, and Chris at Bojkin's Birthday/ Housewarming Party