July 20, 2013 by theloneblonde
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right!? Well maybe? Sorry for not being around to make a post about my life but really it has been busy! There is work to be done, friends to be made, and dishes to ignore (which makes the ants in my sink really happy).
The past week and a half has been EVENTFUL to say the least.
Also just so you are aware about the situation in Albania with the elections, it went great! Only one dude died and it was way up north and since then my town has been riding on a literal high. A local guy and the uncle of one of my Albanian friends won what could be compared to the governor of the state that I live in and so things are really starting to change. Also the party running against the long-term incumbent won the election (Edi Rama, looks like a pirate) and so Albania is in this democracy thing for the long haul.
In the days after elections showing up to work was like showing up to an office of children who just won a trip to Disneyland. Anything and everything is and will be possible. I was discussing some ideas with my bosses and every one of them was the best thing they have ever heard and within twenty minutes I was discussing my ideas with the mayor! AMAZING! We have been throwing around ideas of opening a children’s center and maybe even a radio station. We have the mayor’s approval, and well now we just need a lot of money but HE LISTENED! Which is the first step!
Fourth of July!
I have celebrated countless Fourth of July’s abroad. Honestly I do not remember the last Fourth of July I spent within my actual home country. I think it was in 2008? But regardless it is my favorite holiday! My site mate Lizzie and I, decided that we wanted to make it special, and rather then joining a bunch of other volunteers on the Beach we really wanted to bring a bunch of Americans into town and show our Albanian friends how we do it! Sadly it rained….
But that did not stop us from cooking up copious amounts of American Food (alright, we made tacos and we had to make everything from scratch, but it was pretty American to us!). The rain did not stop us from having a massive bonfire on the beach and shooting off a few fireworks that one of our friends found in a back alley near to the town hospital!
I would like to point out that I started the fire without MATCHES, on the first try. I am No Match Hilt.
Everyone had a really great time, and it was awesome to bring people out to my town and show them just how awesome it is!
So think Prom… and graduation together… after you finish all your exams and your SATs… Add in an event that the entire town comes out to… plus the nicest venue in town… MEAT, MEAT, MORE MEAT… starting at 10pm and only ending well after the sun comes up… oh and an open bar. There you have Matura.
Matura is the graduation party, which Lizzie and I were fortunate enough to be invited to be Chaperones for. We sat at the teacher’s table and I have to say I felt a little old, or really I felt way too young to be chaperoning PROM!
It really is the event of the season well other then weddings… Speaking of Weddings: there are two weddings happening right now, on in front of my house and one behind my house and there are dueling 7-year old djs trying to out do themselves, it started on Monday and it’s now Saturday… Welcome to Albania).
So Matura starts around 8:30 or 9pm when they roll out the red carpet from the Hotel Turizmit into the center of town. All the students “xhiro” or parade to the red carpet from all over town, of which they all have rented or borrowed really nice cars for the event. Some of my friends came in convertibles and others rented Hummers from Tirana or borrowed their Uncle’s BMW.
The dress code in the beginning is dress to impress or in my case dress so Heather does not recognize you one bit. I have met all the students in the 12th year and even had the chance to go hiking with them to the waterfalls a few weeks ago, but I did not recognize them! They were all SO BEAUTIFUL!
The dress code is similar to prom, ball gowns and suits or even tuxs. The boys looked like James Bond, one even showed up in a bowtie. The girls start planning their dresses from early on (like when they are 10), and many have them made for the occasion. Though what threw me for a real loop is many of the girls dyed their hair for the first time and got their make-up professionally done, and they all looked stunning!
So after everyone parades in they play music and the entire town comes out to watch everyone enter the dance. Lizzie and I showed up a little late, as the good chaperones we are, and dinner was just being served. The first course consisted of meat, and some salad, but really a lot of meat at around 10pm. Then they kicked off the dancing with class dances (everyone in one teacher or another’s homeroom idea). Everyone circle danced to their content. I learned that it is way easier to circle dance in heels.
Then after about an hour, I realized that I once again I did not recognize anyone! All the girls and even some of the boys had gone through a wardrobe change. Most of the girls changed from ball gowns to more cocktail like dancing dresses.
So around 3am, the party still going through strong, and many of the girls went through a third wardrobe change, and all of the boys had changed into shorts. I gave up on trying to figure out who was who by the end of the night.
The kept saying that they would serve the cake when the sun came up… which happened to be at 5:30 am… the sun was already up in the sky, the cake was coming out and Lizzie and I decided as the great chaperones we were we were way too old for this and hiked up the hill to the early morning sun.
In my office for the past few weeks we have been working on gathering information for some Italian guest who came to visit and work on this big tourism project that my town is part of.
I had put together some maps and information about local businesses and hotels in the area and even made a really awesome map!
This is my town, if you click on the symbols you get a picture of the place, you can even open it on a smart phone, cool right!
I won’t go into detail about their visit, but let’s say I needed a vacation after their vacation and I really learned that I love my job and the model of development I am working with (Peace Corps Love).
I did have the chance to go visit one of Skrapar’s finest wineries! It pretty much is the Franzia factory of Albania, box wine for all! Which is over near one of the world’s oldest bridges, which was apparently designed by the same guy who did the blue mosque in turkey!
I also got to go, see, and hike Mt. Timorr, which comes in at 2379 m (7 805 feet), also of very holy origins to the Bektashi Muslim faith (the majority of Albania is Bektashi Muslim, which is a very different sect from what is traditionally viewed as Muslim). I will write more about this in August, when I go to their Holy Festival on the top of Mt Timorr.
I got to see the Teca (the bektashi center) along with got a bit of a preview of Kulmak, which will be next month. The American’s have termed it blood fest, trust me I will tell you all about it.
The hiking part, I really wore the WRONG shoes and did it in sparkly sperry’s my feet hate me.
All is quiet on the homefront for now, this weekend I will be heading to the beach of Vlore for some quality Albanian beach time! Tomorrow I also may go hike through the canyons; really it’s pretty much non-stop adventure around here.