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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pema e Thate and Plazhi Monastir

I hope to never forget the incredible beaches surrounding Ksamil, only a stone’s throw away from the Greek island of Corfu.

Corfu is so near, but our beaches are just as nice...

For 4th of July Chris and I made our way once again to the coast – how could we not?—to spend some days in the sun and join other volunteers and friends for a bbq.

Also in town were a handful of PCVs from Romania and Ukraine, as well as our Finnish friends, Mia and Ville. Chris and I met Ville 2 years ago in Laos, and through the blessings of Facebook they were able to find and stay with us a few nights in Gjirokaster. They introduced us to the beloved Finnish pepper candy, Tyrkisk Peber, which consists of ammonium chloride, sugar, licorice, and salt. It’s… an acquired taste. Anyway, they were wonderful guests, cooked us delicious Indian food, and shared stories about living up the Land of the Saami (Reindeer People). I’m even more encouraged to go there and experience 23 hours of daylight, soak in a proper sauna with birch whipping, and see the Aurora Borealis!

With 'the Fins' Ville and Mia while watching futbol at an outdoor cafe

For now, I’ll take sea & sun.

Monastery Beach is one of my favorites. It’s a semi-private cove that no one except locals knows of. There is no transportation to the beach so after swimming and lunch, then falling into a comatose state for a few hours, we walked back to town. This allowed a great opportunity to admire the view of Lake Butrint in the east and the setting sun in the west…

Me at Monastery Beach

Some men playing dominoes by the seaside

Lake Butrint is actually an estuary, where mussels are harvested (see on the right?)

The next day we walked (my first time) over the hills to Pema e Thate (Dry Tree) Beach. This area is probably the closest in proximity and likeness to Corfu Island, and although a café and beach chairs have appeared in a few of the coves, it still feels like a private oasis. I almost hesitate to write and post photos for fear of aiding the inevitable oncoming rush of tourism...

Road to Pema a Thate

Over the hills we go...

So worth the walk

In the evening we attended a bbq with the larger group. Our goal was typical American food, including burgers, potato salad, chips with guacamole (!!!), and good ol’ apple pie (thank you to whoever’s parent who shipped that Krustex mix). We stuffed ourselves silly and watched a little World Cup, played some darts, and generally made muhabet.

4th of July fun at Tani's bar

It is so not fair that we live near such awesome beaches. I know, I know, what kind of Peace Corps is this? Our friends visiting from Ukraine and Romania could not get over our luck. I am so grateful to have been placed here in Shqiperia—for many, many reasons— and not least of all for the chance to live in Mediterranean paradise...

Sun setting as we approach Ksamil. Those rings are the fish pens.

Totally bizarre juxtaposition of village life meets tourist resorts

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