Friday, December 26, 2008
So yeah perhaps today wasn't all that Albanian but it sure was fun and good because I didn't think about how much I missed home. In fact I really enjoyed myself, I really did.
Plus with the amazing technology of Skype I was able to talk with family and friends, so though I wasn't physically present at home, I was still able to spend part of the day with loved ones. So I guess as they say (whoever "they" is), all is well that ends well :) Gezuar per Krishtlindje (which means, "Merry Christmas).
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Many Albanians celebrate Christmas but not all of them because a majority of the country is Muslim. However, the country celebrates Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox holidays, therefore we get breaks for all of them:) But seriously, New Year's is the big thing around here. There are "New Year's Trees" (which we would call Christmas trees, exactly the same) decorated on the streets and in houses. Everyone gets together on the 31st and 1st to celebrate with family, eating food and exchanging gifts. And apparently the sky is completely lit on fire with fireworks at midnight. I'm going to spend the 31st with Elvisa and family, then on the 1st, Ms. B is hosting me, Ikuko, a friend of Ikuko, and Huija for dinner, since her children are pretty far away and her husband has passed. It should be good for all of us to celebrate together, Ms. B will host the club of international students I guess.
So today should be both interesting and fun, though of course I'd rather be home with the family, eating my Dad's cookin' and watching college football. BUT there's no time to complain or sit around being homesick ....Merry Christmas y'all.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Other notes from the market today:
1. One guy was selling wrist watches, socks and floppy disks.
2. It was extremely difficult to resist going to the fresh bakery shop and stuffing my face with the bread (bread in Albania has changed my life)
3. I purchased a brand-new pair of bright orange fuzzy slippers to wear around my house (pictures upon request....ha ha)
Today was a good day
Surprisingly, I loved it! The dish was kind of like this soup and we put some vinegar and peppers inside. I enjoyed dipping my toast inside and kind of scooping it, but perhaps that just the Mississippi girl in me who's used to scooping everything with biscuits or rolls.
One of the greatest things about breakfast this morning was that Naja and I ate Paçe, meat (which again, I don't know what kind they just called it "meat"), toast, hot tea and water for 5 dollars. Can we say, fabulous?
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The next time when I went to Elvisa's her mom had prepared a more simple (yet still delicious) cake with a few nuts and spices. And every time since then her mom has only prepared this cake for me, no other types of creamy or milky desserts.
Well a week ago my friend Celeste, another American who's teaching English here in Albania, was at Elvisa's and her mom had given some of the same cake to Celeste. Elvisa then told Celeste, "Chelsi likes this cake too because it's good for people with dark skin, like Chelsi." Naturally Celeste was both surprised and confused by this statement and asked Elvisa to explain what she meant. Elvisa went on to say that since Black people cannot have milk, since we have problems with it, we must only eat a certain kind of cake without milk...NICE!
This isn't the first time that someone has assumed that I am the typical model of Black people everywhere around the world, apparently, according to Elvisa and some of my other Albanian friends, we all have seasonal allergies and we all have trouble digesting bananas too!
Okay so maybe this post just makes me sound weird but ultimately I'm trying to address this issue of many Albanians assuming that I'm a representative of ALL Black people everywhere. I had to explain this to Elvisa tonight and you wouldn't believe the shock on her face when she realized that all Black people aren't the same...who would have thought?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Anyhow today B.C. informed me that I will have to meet his son, a rapper here in Albania. Now B.C. has no idea that I studied hip-hop here in Albania last summer, he just randomly suggested that I meet his son. "Sure" I said, "that can happen." Well later I asked Gersi about it and turns out they are friends and Gersi has directed me to a YouTube Video with B.C.'s son. I am posting it here for yall to take a look, feel free to tell me what yall think, the video will post above this message.
Nanny Garcia I think you may find this particularly interesting....
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
1. You do not "bring" an umbrella to class, but rather you "take" an umbrella (or any other object for that matter). I was trying to make a sentence in class one day and this was an issue because in English I can say, "I need to bring my umbrella with me" but in Albanian the correct verb is not "to bring" but rather "to take."
2. People do not "know information", they "have it." Look at this sentence in Albanian: "kam informacion rreth qytetit" which means, "I have information about the city." But in class I tried to say, "E di informacion" which means, "I know information." But my professor made a face and said that people have information but they cannot know it, that does not make sense!
3. EVERYTHING has a gender, EVERY SINGLE THING! So as a result there is a different word for male dog and female dog (and so on). I asked my professor what would happen if we were riding in a car and saw a dog on the street, would I say qeni (male dog) or qenushe (female dog)? She said I would say "qeni." But why, I asked. How would we know the difference? She said that we can distinguish female dogs when they're in the house, maybe if they're wearing a pink collar or bow, or something like that. Or if they're surrounded by their puppies...other than that, we just refer to all dogs as qen until we know otherwise. I wanted to ask why this couldn't be the other way around, but I decided against that.
Don't be fooled, gender is not limited to living things, inanimate objects have genders as well!
4. The day cannot be busy. In a sentence, a person can be busy but not the day. So if I say, "Today was a busy day" that does not work. "Today I was busy"...that's more like it.
5. You don't go "to" work, you go "in" your work
6. There are completely different words for school pants, work pants, jogging pants, sleeping pants, etc. You can't just call all of them "pants."
7. And if you're ever going on a trip, you cannot say, "I have a trip tomorrow so I'm going home now to pack." If you do Albanians will look at you strangely and say, "pack what?" Then once you say "I have a trip tomorrow so I'm going home now to pack my clothes," then and only then will you be speaking clearly.
That's all for now but trust me, there are more to come.
I had to go to the pazaar to buy everything for the meal, I had to buy the chicken really fresh (I'm talking somebody killed it the day before and I bought the individual pieces which were hanging inside of a shop), and I bought fresh potatoes, veggies for the salad, and corn meal from a grocery store.
Huija and Ikuko came over a couple of hours early because they wanted to see how to prepare the food, and Huija especially wanted to learn from me. It sounds so odd because before coming here my cooking skills were pretty much limited to grilled cheese!
But alas the meal turned out really well! Everyone had a great time and ate all of the food! Albania's known for its amazing honey so we put that on the cornbread and Huija also brought some Chinese food from her family's restaurant, making it a hybrid meal! I actually found hot sauce at this itty bitty everything-you-need-store, which was fabulous for the chicken. We also had this amazing wine that Oret and Gersi brought from Italy, but I'm afraid it may have been contraband...oh well it was good!
That night was my first time to ever host a dinner, not just here in Tirana but I think in general. Or maybe I should say it was the first time that I hosted something in which I did the work and not just my parents throwing me a party or something! Oret and Gersi were so glad that they got the chance to eat some "Mississippi Food" as they are still calling it, though I wish I could have given them some greens, because that really would have made it good! If anyone knows how to get turnip or collard greens to me here, I'm all ears!
So overall I was very satisfied with the night and I think everyone had a good time, the only problem is that word has gotten out about the meal and now my other Albanian friends are wondering when I'm going to have them over to eat Mississippi food....
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
This past weekend I went to Thessaloniki, Greece with Camille and her two daughters. She invited me to come along since there was a long holiday here in Albania and she offered to cover gas and stuff. Well it took me all of 5 seconds to agree to join them! It was my first time to Greece and I thought it'd be a cool way to conclude the holidays. Not to mention a break from the intense day-to-day action of Tirana!
Some of the oddest things happened while we were there though. For instance after taking our bags to the hotel room we asked our receptionist for a recommendation of somewhere good to eat and he said, "well you can go to Applebees or Pizza Hut." For a second I thought he was kidding but NO this guy was serious! I couldn't stop laughing about it. Thankfully we talked to some locals and ate some good Greek food throughout the weekend, but yeah there was definitely a Pizza Hut and an Applebees.
We saw archaeological sights and went to several museums. But what stood out the most to me was church architecture - man the churches there were breathtaking. Tourists are not allowed to take pictures in many of them, I'm posting the few that I have but they don't even begin to do justice. While in the city I thought to myself, "wow, I'm in a place that's mentioned in the Bible." I thought that was cool and added to my interest in the churches.
I also met lots and lots of African immigrants, particularly from Nigeria. At first I was caught off guard when I saw Black people working places and walking on the street, or coming up and speaking to me because as I've gotten so used to not seeing many other Blacks here in Albania.
I have a confession as well...I went to Starbucks! Okay phew, glad I got that out of my system, call me a typical American traveler, but oh when I saw it I just had to have it, okay, I can't even talk about it anymore...
To get back to the original context though...about midday Sunday I made the oddest statement. I said to Camille, "This place is nice but I'm ready to go home to Tirana." And then I thought, wait, Tirana's not home...or is it? Well the answer seems to be that yes, it is becoming home. Turns out that I wasn't the only one missing home, so was Camille. She even made the comment, "I miss Albanian drivers." I wouldn't dare go so far as to say that!
It's true though, we missed the everyday life here, the smiling people who say the craziest things, the fact that even near a border crossing in the middle of nowhere, Albania ALWAYS has a cafe where you can use the restroom, or the fact that you never meet a stranger, we missed home, I missed home!
So overall the trip was great, I enjoyed myself, but now I'm glad to be back in my smoggy city where everyone honks their horns, no one crosses the street properly, time is spent in cafes all day and people will grab you on the street, hug you and proclaim, "Barack Obama, very good man!"
Home Sweet Home
I'm posting some pictures now for you all to enjoy.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Albania, I believe, is the only European country without a McDonald's but who needs McDonald's when you've got Kolonat. While I have no idea what Kolonat stands for or who Kolonat is/was, this fast food restaurant has everything from the golden slants to the Big Mec. If you've noticed I changed my blogger picture to one with the Kolonat bag. Though the name is different it seemed at first that almost everything about this place reminded me of McDonald's, except for the fact that customers can order beer with a combo meal, which is not called a "combo" but rather a "menu." Upon first inspection though, one might assume that this place is just another effect of globalization and increasing homogeneity everywhere until you see something like this:
That's right the girl behind the counter wrapped my drink in a bag. I tried to stop her and tell her that I could just hold it but I was so intrigued that I just let her continue. Then I took a picture.
So I know that many of you want to know what the food tasted like...well unfortunately I wasn't brave enough to try the Big Mec so I just ate some pizza (another thing McDonald's in the U.S. doesn't have) and french fries. And of course my Sprite that was wrapped in a plastic bag!
Friday, November 21, 2008
So imagine my surprise when I was at a really small fruit and nuts market the other day and came across oatmeal on one of the shelves. I mean I was truly in heaven - I'm afraid I won't be able to find biscuits or grits anywhere here in Albania. But as for oatmeal, I mean to find that here just made my day. Naturally I did the likely thing once I found it: I began to make it for breakfast in the morning. For some reason though, no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to wake up an extra ten minutes early so that I have enough time to eat the oatmeal before leaving the house. Considering this coupled with the fact that I've always eaten oatmeal on the go, and plus my mom sent me over here with Glad Tupperware from the U.S., I decided to just take the oatmeal with me to class. I soon learned however just how odd of an experience this was for everyone around me.
For one thing, no one else in the class had ever seen oatmeal. Ikuko said she had heard about it but the dish was foreign to all of them. Now I have seen several Albanian students eating snacks around the campus, stuffed croissants with chocolate inside, or bags of chips, or candy bars, things like that. So I assumed that it would be no problem to just eat whatever I wanted in class as long as I wasn't loud. But ummmmm....no! Everyone watched me as I took out my spoon and before I ate my first bite they had to say, "Ju bufe te mire" which when translated basically means, "Bon Appetit." Then when I finished everyone wanted to know if it was good or not and if I was satisfied. I thought it was a weird experience but assumed they had those reactions simply because it was the first time I'd eaten something in class. Besides Huija eats bread and crackers all of the time and no one makes a big deal about it. So I decided to try the oatmeal again but still got the same reaction. I'm not exactly sure why. Today I ate yogurt in class and it did not warrant a single response...there must be something about oatmeal!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Since then I've been to the Albanian hair salon where my new found beautician, Alona, gave me my first "wash and set" here in Albania. Though she did not part my hair, oil my scalp or have any oil sheen, I'd say that the style turned out very well. I received numerous comments about my hair at the Marine Ball last night and though it's very frizzy now (from all of the dancing and then rain today), I'd say that everything turned out A okay - THANK GOD!
Below is a picture of me from last night and also a picture of me with Mindy, who has now found a calling relaxing hair!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Okay people so here's the deal, on Thursday my friend Mindy and I attempted to relax my hair. You see there's this ball coming up here in Albania (it's actually tonight) that's thrown by the embassy and as a "prestigious Fulbrighter" I'm going to it. But my last relaxer was 8 weeks ago, before I left the U.S. For those of you who are not familiar with this process, you should google something like "Black Women and Hair" to learn more, and you can also read one of my earlier blog posts, "Hair: A Black Woman's Dilemma" to learn more about my personal takes.
So I am now posting the first video above this post, I believe two more will follow. Please prepare yourselves...this really did happen.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Anyhow Mr. G brings me my coffee and we attempt to have a conversation. While using my hands to gesture, which I am frequently forced to do, Mrs. G grabbed my left hand and noticed there was no ring on my finger. She showed my hand to Mr. G and he smiled, then the two of them proceeded to talk without me, all the while the guy next to me is cracking up laughing. About 5 minutes later Mr. G asked me if I would be his wife. My eyebrows furrowed and I made a face as if to say, "but isn't this your wife right here?" Then Mrs. G starts to nod her head as if to encourage this, and then everyone just starts laughing, me included, though my laugh was more of that "uhhhh this is kinda awkward, what's really going on" type laugh. After a few minutes Mr. G finally cleared things up: he would leave his wife, marry me so that we could move to America together and then he could make more money and send it home to his wife. She was thrilled with this idea and again said that she loved my smile!
I told Cindy and Dave about this and Dave said that the couple must think that I'm their new retirement plan! Perhaps this is the case but I'm not looking forward to marrying any Albanian guys any time soon, especially not those that already have wives. Although I must admit that this is not my first Albanian marriage proposal!
Since that night Mr. and Mrs. G have been really cool, always speaking and frequently inviting me for coffees at the cafe. We talk, we laugh and the entire time I'm asking questions in my head about what would happen if this guy really tried to marry me...
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Since I've been here I've taken many notes about the behavior of guys here, how it is more socially acceptable for men to just talk with anyone in the street, or for men to yell whatever they want at women, or how I am often the only female eating at a restaurant in the middle of day with a bunch of guys because all of the females are "supposed" to be at home. This manliness displayed by all of the men is very confusing however because...they kiss! Traditional greetings in Albania involve kissing twice, once on each cheek. This practice does not stop with the men, who may also even hold hands when walking. I guess I just find it extremely interesting for a man to yell at another guy about being tough and willing to beat him up, but then five minutes later kiss another guy and walk arm in arm down the street. Interesting!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Albanians are definitely excited about Obama. My neighbors own a small convenient store and one of the guys was taking a break from work to drink a beer when I walked in this afternoon. He told me that his beer was in honor of Obama. Lina, a girl who owns a sandwich stand near my house, gave me an American keychain last week (which I wasn't sure why, thought it should have been the other way around) and so I gave her one of my Obama buttons to wear for today, which she loved! And cab drivers or basically anyone on the street will just shout, "Urime Urime per ti" which means "Congratulations, congratulations to you." When I first heard it this morning I thought, "why are they saying congratulations to me, I don't normally hear that on election day." But then I thought about it, the Albanians are congratulating me because he's my new president. I guess it just took me a while to realize it since it's my first time to not be in America when the new president is announced.
I'm posting some pictures from the election party this morning. They had a live feed of CNN international which was great to watch, I was even able to watch Obama's speech. And I met a whole bunch of people including a Peace Corps Volunteer who has invited me to speak at his school in Southern Albania because he's teaching students about cultural anthropology. Cool huh?
I promised that I would also upload pictures from Halloween. Ikuko and I went to a party together and it was her first time to go to a costume party. You may not be able to see very well but I decided to go as a sandwich...the cardboard is the bread and I'm wearing a yellow jacket for mustard. There are pink and green pieces of paper to represent the meat and lettuce and there's even real spinach on the front of the bread.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
So lesson for the day: Hmmmm actually I'm really not quite sure what the lesson is, but I guess remember that when you're living outside the US, don't think that just because something is a cultural normative "at home," means it's a cultural normative somewhere else. And also, if you come to visit me in Albania (which I hope many of you do), don't leave 15% of your check for a tip...or if you do, you just might get a huge kiss or something from your waiter!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
10. Women in boutiques will not just let you try on clothes in the room on your own. They must first screen your selections, examine your body, and then decide if they think the clothes in your hand will fit or be cute on you. If they don't think so, then you won't even get to try the clothes on, even if you know that they are your size.
9. Often times when ordering at a restaurant, you may see the word "meat" on a menu that's been translated into English. When you ask your waiter, he will likely respond that the dish is made with "meat," simple. Only by ordering the dish will you learn the true contents.
8. Bookbags aren't cool at school, in fact they're nonexistent, at least at the university.
7. It's totally okay for a professor to answer his/her cell phone if it rings in the middle of class.
6. No need to use trash cans, that's what the ground is for.
5. "Having a coffee" is not simply, having a coffee...it means so much more.
4. Girls don't play futboll
3. Americans shouldn't be trying to study here, Albanians are trying to study in America. Why on Earth would I want to come here?
2. You must tell your friends every single thing you've done each day, when you spent money, how much things cost, etc. The term "personal business" is also nonexistent.
And the NUMBER ONE thing to always, always remember: ONLY CROSS THE STREET WITH OTHER ALBANIANS. Car drivers like to express their personalities on the road, which often times is saying to other drivers: Get outta my way, I don't care if we crash into each other, and yes I'm man enough to take you on! Cars don't always stop at lights and people don't always stop at cars...please be prepared to sometimes wait 15 minutes to ensure that you can cross the street with sane persons...
While I do not like that joke, I have to admit that learning this language has probably been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do (that and living without Dr. Pepper). But I see now what I have to do to excel...drop Spanish. Take for example word gender. The Albanian language identifies words as masculine and feminine, just as they do in Spanish. But here, it's a totally different system, yet I keep wanting to use the Spanish method. Also I keep saying "y" for "and" when the word in Albanian is "dhe." There's just all kinds of things I'm doing because for some reason my brain wants to speak Spanish, perhaps because that's the only language I know even a little of other than English. Well I'm not sure what this means about me but I don't think there's enough room in my head right now for all three languages to fit, so unfortunately I believe I must say to Spanish, Adios! At least for now...
Hjuin's kicking my butt in our Albanian classes. She's only 17 but she's been here a year already helping her family run a Chinese food restaurant here in Tirana. And when she's not working at the restaurant or learning Albanian, she's teaching Chinese to some Koreans who live here in Albania...yeah I know, talk about a burst of multiculturalness (yes i made that word up).
Ikuko just wants to learn Albanian - simple. I told her that she'd make tons of money by learning the language, creating an Albanian-Japanese dictionary and then developing tourism here for Japanese travellers (because her side hustle is already working for a travel agency). Ikuko is also great because she wears these metallic gold sneakers, complete with sequence. I'm trying to figure out where I can get a pair, but perhaps I may shoot for a color like green.
Of course my focus is studying Albanian life/history/culture while I'm here but I can't help but be fascinated by the international merging that's happening here. Another example...I FOUND OTHER BLACK PEOPLE! Yep turns out they've just been hiding, but the other day I ran into this guy Prince on the street. It seems to be that whenever Black people see each other here in Albania, we just introduce ourselves, that's just what we do, some type of unofficial rule or something. Well Prince informed me that his wife worked for the World Bank and after talking for a little while he and I exchanged contact info so that maybe they could have me over for dinner. So last weekend Camille (Prince's wife) called me and invited me to meet up with them and some of their friends to hang out. Well what both of them failed to mention was that Camille is actually the country manager of the World Bank here in Tirana which mean that she's kind of a big deal. I mean she's on the Top Channel News at Night...need I say more?
So yeah I also met 4 Nigerian futboll (soccer) players here...never knew they existed! So here's the cast:
Camille: A Jamaican American
Prince: A Ghanaian American
Joseph: from Kenya
James, Jeff, Jake, and Emanuel: from Nigeria
Me: A Black American, who's looking for a new name to call herself
I tell you when we went out, it had to be one of the oddest experiences for me here yet, and trust me, there have been plenty of odd ones. I'll have to blog more later about the details but though it may not seem like it, we actually seemed to share some sort of grander connection being here in Tirana, what some anthropologists may term "a sense of shared identity." And for the first time I didn't feel so different when going out with a group - yet the first word that comes to mind when I recall the experience is that it was something different!
The international list goes on and on. I've literally met people from all over the world since being here, which has only been a month so far. There's also Jean from Austria, Kim from Finland, Bob from Australia, and more people that I just cannot remember right now. By the time I leave I may have just met a person from every country in the world...or well maybe I'll just shoot for every continent, I've already got 5 of those down. Though I'm not sure how to meet someone from Antarctica...
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
As I write this blog now I'm supposed to be working on three things: how to make singular nouns plural, definite and idefinite articles, and word gender. Unfortunately in Albanian you can't just add an "S" to a word to mean more than one. And I'm having such trouble with the articles because in Albanian if you say "the pencil" vs. "a pencil", well those things just mean two different things entirely! Not to mention that in English we don't assign masculinity or femininity to words as they do in other languages (this happens in Spanish as well), so this is also a challenge. When I put all of this together my head just starts to hurt more.
There are 36 letters in the Albanian alphabet and particularly I have problems with the following: dh, ë, and y. And for goodness sake somebody please teach me how to roll my freaking tongue so I can pronounce rr!!! Another thing about Albanian is that it is totally okay to have three or even four consonants in a row, a tough thing for me to handle. Some of my new favorite words are shkruhet, ndërkombëtar, bashkëtingëllore, and xixëllonja.
It's funny because we go over lots of words in class and I can always provide the Albanian word for things like onion, spoon, bread and cooking pot, all thanks to Ms. B!
Well as I get back to my homework I say to all of you natën e mirë which means, "goodnight!"
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Here's a sample of the song for those of you that aren't familiar:
Ms. B is one of my new favorite people here in Tirana. We were introduced through a friend and I go over to her house on Monday nights for informal cooking and language classes. She has a son in Florida and she's visited him once so she knows some English. However we get by on a combination of English, Albanian, gestures and most important, facial expressions. When I arrive at Ms. B's she's always excited to see me, genuinely excited. She already has the food out on the counter that we're going to cook. Tonight it was pork chops, a veggie medley of green beans, tomatoes, onions, and carrots, boiled potatoes, and homemade kreme karamel (kind of like a pudding dessert dish, in a way). We always immediately get to work, Ms. B quickly moving from one end of the kitchen to the other, and me hurriedly following behind, notebook in one hand and Engligh-Albanian dictionary in the other. Ms. B may point at an onion and say "qepa" or ask for a "tangjere" and I have to guess at items until I successfully hand her the pan that she wants.
It usually takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes to make dinner, depends on what we're cooking. I must say that tonight's meal was splendid, just as last week's was. Ms. B is also always trying to give me more food, offering fruits or zucchini once I've cleared my plate. I came up with a concept of trying to eat more slowly but then she thinks that I don't like it as much. So yeah, it's a catch-22.
Spending time with Ms. B makes me so happy because she just radiates so much positive energy. Her husband passed away a few months ago and both her children live far away (daughter in Germany, son in Florida) and so she enjoys having company. I'm just grateful that someone takes the time to cook and talk with me, so I thoroughly enjoy it as well. Plus Ms. B shares her stories with me, well as much as she can in English. Having lived in Albania her entire life (she's in her late 60s), she has much knowledge about the country and it's history. She promises that when my Albanian gets better she will tell me all about her life. After dinner each night we finish it all off with coffee (which is the glue of Albanian culture and society) and watching the Italian soap operas that Ms. B loves so much!
Another great thing about Ms. B is that she purposely cooks too much food so that I end up taking some home with me - that's great for someone likes me who before now was surviving on spaghetti, tuna and pringles! (okay just kidding, it's not that bad). Plus when I got there tonight she had prepared a list for me with two columns, Albanian words on the left and English words on the right, in order to inform me of the night's menu. She said that she spent time this morning working on that just for me. Yeah, she's great.
So here's to Ms. B, Gezuar!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The menu at the restaurant had some translations of entrees in English and this is what one of them read (the first one) - of course I didn't order it!
After eating we headed back to Tirana but stopped at a locally owned winery on the way home. I don't really drink much wine but Cindy thought it would be a good "cultural" experience for me to check things out, and I must admit I never knew how wine was made, very interesting. The family who owns the vineyard has been making wine for over ten years. Like many families in parts of Albania, they had been using their own grapes to make wine for personal consumption and realized that it was pretty good, so they went into "the business." The daughter of the house gave us a tour of everything and eventually the father joined us to explain about the different types of wine they offer, which really educated me about how certain grapes are used to make certain wines. Here are some pictures:
Of course you always have your wise guy or comedian in every group and this kid definitely fit that mold for the day:
I kept telling them to put rocks and trash in the bags but he kept getting inside. Finally he came out and then he wanted to do poses everywhere. Plus this girl to the right in the NYPS shirt kept wanting to get in all of the pictures, you might see her pop up again. Many of the kids could say a few things in English, so over and over again I heard "What is your name?" and "Thank you very very much." I must say that it got tired pretty quickly. Also, somehow this "Chelsi Entourage" formed around me, so there was this group of girls who followed me everywhere I went asking me to take more photos for them. They also tried to follow me into the bathroom, which I think I can master, I've only been doing it for 20 years.
But in the end the kids loved it and there was a presentation in which the headmaster thanked everyone for volunteering. I'm going to go back in a few weeks to deliver photos of people because I have a thousand of them!