It all began around 10 p.m. on the night of the 31st. I had dinner with Elvisa's family and her mom stuffed me with byrek (these Albania pies with stuff like spinach, tomatoes, but you can even make them with milk or beans), hen, potatoes, Russian salad (my new favorite thing), lamb, cheese, olives, cabbage, broccoli, and many many more things. She just kept putting more food on my plate though I literally thought I was about to explode. And laugh if you will but we drank boxed wine and I had never had it before but I love it now! Yes Nanny Garcia I'm sure you will laugh at me for that one!
At midnight the tradition for Albanian families is to toast with baklava and wish blessings and good will for the year. Then the sky EXPLODED with fireworks. Honestly I've never seen anything like this in my life, it was just a 360 show of lights in the sky, the city went crazy! We watched them from the roof of Elvisa's apartment building which is in the center of town. After the fireworks I went out with some friends and rang in the New Year, which included me learning some traditional Albanian dances that I'm sure I butchered. Again though people think I can dance well because I'm Black...
Yesterday for New Year's Day we went over to Ms. B.'s for lunch/dinner and I discovered that Albanians eat like 8 different kinds of salads on New Year's. Ms. B made a tomato and cucumber salad, Russian salad, white cabbage salad, red cabbage salad, eggplant salad, and some more that I can't remember. Needless to say that I was full from salad before any of the other food was ready! Like Elvisa's mom, Ms. B. continued to pile food on my plate though I insisted I'd had enough. The way one of my friends has explained it to me, Albanians begin eating on the night of the 31st and eat non-stop until the 4th or 5th of New Year's...good thing I'm heading out of here today for a couple of days!
So yeah I'm on my way to Macedonia now to hang out with some friends...ciao!