June 11, 2013 by theloneblonde
“Sometime Coffee is just Coffee…Sometimes It’s Not”-What should be PC Albania’s Motto
I have had 9 coffees today. Now I am in a slightly more jittery state then I intended on being at 10 at night, but after way too many shots of beautiful Albanian espresso or kafe espress I feel accomplished.
I know this is not a tour of my apartment like I said I would write about (which I will, I just need to clean the place first…) but this is a very important aspect of Albanian culture, which needs to be detailed.
Coffee culture in Albania can mean anything from coffee to business to an eminent marriage proposal like date. Sometimes it is how things get done, sometimes it’s how you get a husband, and sometimes it is just the enjoyment of friends over excellent conversations about life. When you go for coffee, you don’t actually have to have coffee, but it’s always called a coffee. You can go for a coffee and have an espress or a macchiato, but you can also get a beer, a coke, rahani (juice), wine, strawberry drink with milk (taste surprisingly like a strawbeery milkshake), and then you can always wash it down with some raki (in some parts of Albania this is called coffee with a tail, which implies that you need to chase coffee with raki, I don’t know how I feel about such things).
Many Albanian days consist of having coffee with many people, though I happen to work in an office where the coffee business was cut down by the new-ish mayor who decided people needed to be in the office more. Personally I think it makes us less productive because so much business is done over coffee, but who am I to think I have only been here a week. Though as the American I somewhat have free range of the coffee situation, so far…
I have been working on some projects for tourism in the town, and today I wanted to go around mapping and getting information about all the local hotels. We have some lovely hotels, some even brand new, but not so many guest. So I am working on a collection of all their information and pictures to be able to put it both on the bashkia website and a website exclusively for tourism in the area.
Artian (the architect) and I went searching out this information this morning. First going to Hotel Osumi, where we had a coffee and discussed all of the information about the place. But due to the current elections happening in Albania their rooms were not ready to see. Next over to Hotel Flora, the newest hotel, in which the owner insisted that we join him in his 10am beer, beer for breakfast was never really my thing in college unless it was a football game day, so I ended up with a B-52 (the Albanian version of redbull). My caffeine levels were now through the roof and I attempted to take some pictures of the place…
Next on to the tourism hotel, where they insisted in getting us yet another coffee, though this time around I opted for water. Up the hill we ventured together where Artian declared that I must be Albanian and walk slowly we made it to the last hotel in town, and though all the doors were open and everything was unlocked the owners seemed to be missing, they must have been out for coffee…
So after we collected all of this information we headed back to the bashkia. Upon our arrival, Bartha, the awesome receptionist/cleaning lady/future mother-in-law (kidding, but she is attempting to set me up with her son, he lives in the capitol and is finishing university as a zoologist, this does not fall into my list of requirements but a coffee may ensure, this is Albania) was working in our office and it was only 20 minutes away from the bashkia coffee pushime (break/vacation: same word). So my office colleagues and my counter-part all decided to gather at the door of the bashkia sitting in the entrance way waiting for the official time to leave. It reminded me of high school when you finished class early but could not yet enter the halls because Vicky (the hall-moniter) would catch you, and you would wait by the door for the bell to ring… except our Vicky happens to be the mayor (minor details). Then we all left for yet another coffee…
Coffee Count before noon: 4
After our coffee pushime, I got some work done at the bashkia and was invited by my site mate, Lizzie, to go to a party for the year 10 and 11s who had finished school today. The party was being held at a café down the road from the bashkia and as I arrived I realized we were going for yet another coffee but this time with the possibility of valle (circle dancing). Which means I always need a little something stonger, because I suck at circle dancing. By the end of the summer I vow to both improve my Albanian and leave Valle Kosovare (my favorite one by far).
Now if you realized that I have yet to have anything to eat today and it’s around 4pm, its because during the work day the work day diet consist of mostly coffee and cigarettes for the majority. By this point in time I am dying and my stomach is making the same noises as the booming valle in the background.
Pilaf time: Corovde has the best Pilaf in Albania, hands down. Come I will take you its amazing.
After Pilaf, lizzie and I decided that clearly we needed another coffee (I am sure you recognize a pattern). We headed down to one of my favorite local haunts, a café that has a tree growing inside of it. It’s like a tree house, that serves coffee and suflaque (Albanian doner, gyero). It was only a matter of time before Lizzie got a call to meet a friend for yet another coffee on the other side of town, and you don’t turn down a coffee (well sometimes you do, but if it’s a friend never). So we headed up the mountain (yes, it is a mountain). Up all 305+ stairs, I am still working on counting them all, there is A LOT, for yet another coffee.
When I realized that it was now 8:45pm and I was missing out on the premium water hours. (Background: I live in a house with a water schedule, I have water from 6-8 (like I’m up before 8), 12-2 (like I am home then), and 8-10 (shit I need water hours). I made it home by 9:15 flipped on the water heater, checked my emails, took a shower and then ran around like a mad women trying to do my dishes and fill all my water catchment sources. When 10pm arrived and I was on my final round of water bottles to fill for when I need water and I don’t have any, I found my self-yelling at the sink (like a mad person) screaming “JO UJI, MOS, DON’T LEAVE ME.” (NO WATER, DON’T, DON’T LEAVE ME) I started thinking to myself, a. I’m crazy and b. seriously what an awesome day.
Final Coffee Count: 9